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Research interests

My research seeks to understand how people and wildlife can thrive together in forested and agricultural landscapes.

Humans have modified landscapes and caused animals to go extinct. However, humans have also saved so many species from extinction. My research explores where animals live and how humans are shaping their distributions, and I also look at what motivates people to care for biodiversity and donate to conservation. My research can be organized in three main topics: 


Human Dimensions of Wildlife

People can help halt biodiversity loss by donating to conservation programs and by advocating for policies that help promote the protection of biodiversity.

My research in this area has explored people's motivations, perceptions, and attitudes towards wildlife. For example, I have sought to answer questions such as: what motivates people to donate to conservation of species and ecosystems? Can we use persuasive communication to increase conservation-motivated actions? And, are games effective tools to raise awareness on biodiversity?

I have also studied the factors that shape people's attitudes towards wildlife, such as culture and history, and have collaborated with scholars in various fields (English, Psychology, Anthropology) to explore the human dimensions of wildlife

Selected publications:

  • Echeverri, et al. (2017). How messaging shapes attitudes toward sea otters as a species at risk. Journal of Human Dimensions of Wildlife.

  • Echeverri, et al. (2018). Approaching human-animal relationships from multiple angles: A synthetic perspective. Biological Conservation

  • Dinat, Echeverri, et al. (2019). Eco-xenophobia among rural populations: The Great-tailed Grackle as a contested species in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Journal of Human Dimensions of Wildlife.

In the media:

Ciencia Café pa Sumercé- Psicología de la Conservación


Biodiversity and Environmental Change

Tropical biodiversity is impacted by various human activities. For example, people convert forests to commodity-oriented agriculture, and are warming the climate at unprecedented rates. The new environments that are being created, such as a warmer climate and degraded and deforested landscapes are shaping the patterns of species richness and distribution we see on the landscape. 

My research in this area has explored which species thrive in gradients of intensive food production zones, versus which are limited to intact forests. I am also interested in learning what kinds of diversity patterns are we expecting to see in the future if trends continue as they are happening. 

Selected publications:

  • Echeverri, et al. (2019). Precipitation and tree cover gradients structure avian alpha diversity in North-western Costa Rica. Diversity and Distributions.

  • Karp, Frishkoff, Echeverri, et al. (2018). Agriculture erases climate-driven ß-diversity in Neotropical bird communities. Global Change Biology.

  • Frishkoff, Echeverri, et al. (2018). Do correlated responses to multiple environmental changes exacerbate or mitigate species loss? Oikos

  • Karp, Echeverri, et al. (2019). Remnant forest in Costa Rican working landscapes fosters bird communities that are indistinguishable from protected areas. Journal of Applied Ecology 



In the media:

UC Davis press release: Climate Change and Habitat Conversion Combine to homogenize nature


Coupling Human and Natural Systems

Unless we understand that social and ecological issues are inextricably entangled, we will fail to come up with long term and sustainable solutions. For that reason, my research in this area couples the ecological with the social dimensions of biodiversity conservation.

I am interested for example in understanding what kinds of cultural values of animals we risk losing in the face of climate change and deforestation. Also, what kinds of agricultural practices can enhance both the benefits that people derive from birds (such as pest control) and promote the birds that people find the most beautiful and important.

Selected publications:

  • Echeverri, Smith. et al. (2022). Biodiversity and infrastructure interact to drive tourism to and within Costa Rica. PNAS.

  • Echeverri, et al. (2021). Avian cultural services peak in tropical wet forests. Conservation Letters

  • Echeverri, et al. (2020). Can avian functional traits predict cultural ecosystem services? People and Nature

  • Smith, Taylor, Echeverri, et al. (2021). Big wheel keep on turnin': Linking grower attitudes, farm management, and delivery of avian ecosystem services. Biological Conservation

In the media:

The Conversation

Image by tian dayong
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