Using Birds as Bioindicators
Birds use a wide range of natural and human-managed environments, and many species respond quickly to changes in their surroundings. This makes them highly reliable and scalable (farm to landscape) indicators of environmental health. Furthermore, birds are colorful, sing, and are easily identifiable by anyone with a minimum amount of training. This means that farmers and coffee drinkers, just like scientists, can actively contribute to measuring how bird diversity benefits from sustainable practices, by using tangible indices of environmental sustainability.
With the advice and input from bird experts and data scientists from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Index/Metrics experts from INCAE Business school, we are developing a biodiversity progress index that can explain the health of the biodiversity keeping some clear design principles:
- Very easy to understand by different stakeholders with little knowledge of biodiversity
- Able to measure progress over time
- Enabling to design future improvements
- Applicable at any geographical level: plot, farm, landscape, country
- General or specific in its information according to the needs of the situation
- Based on data that is time and cost-efficient to collect
Biodiversity progress is defined as the capacity of an ecosystem to meet the basic needs of its biodiversity, enabling the sustainance of individual species and communities in the present and future. Our research proposes the use of birds as efficient, effective and relatable measurement tools –bioindicators- of the broader biodiversity progress. The BPI will have a structure and visualization inspired in the Social Progress Index.