Dr. Alejandra Echeverri is an interdisciplinary conservation scientist and a postdoctoral fellow with the Natural Capital Project at Stanford University. Alejandra’s research focuses on integrating the ecological and the social dimensions of biodiversity. Her academic research has focused on understanding human-nature relationships, such as how human impacts to the environment (such as habitat conversion and climate change) impact biodiversity, and how biodiversity impacts people by providing psychological benefits or harms. Her research areas are: ecology, ecosystem services, conservation psychology, human dimensions of wildlife, and tropical ornithology. Aside from her academic work, Alejandra has worked as an environmental consultant for infrastructure projects in Colombia, is a National Geographic Young Explorer, and an advocate for youth engagement in the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.
Honors & Awards
Freda Pagani Award for Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation, University of British Columbia (2020)
Raja Rosenbluth Award for Women in Biological Sciences, University of British Columbia (2018)
Isaac Walton Killam Doctoral Scholarship, Killam Trusts (2017)
Les Lavkulich Award for Outstanding Leadership and Service, University of British Columbia (2017)
Freda Pagani Award for Outstanding Master’s thesis, University of British Columbia (2016)
National Geographic Young Explorers Grant, National Geographic Foundation (2016)
Werner and Hildegard Hesse Research Award in Ornithology, University of British Columbia (2016)
Graduate Global Leadership Fellowship, University of British Columbia (2015)
R Howard Webster Foundation Fellowship, Green College at the University of British Columbia (2013)
Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations
Youth Delegate at the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, Global Youth Biodiversity Network (2016 - 2016)
President for the Resources, Environment, and Sustainability Student Society, Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia (2015 - 2016)
Volunteer and Junior Branch Representative, CISV Colombia (1998 - 2012)
PhD, University of British Columbia, Resources, Environment, and Sustainability (2019)
MSc, University of British Columbia, Resource Management and Environmental Studies (2015)
BSc, Universidad de los Andes, Biology (2012)
Current Research and Scholarly Interests
I am an interdisciplinary conservation scientist interested in studying the social and ecological dimensions of biodiversity conservation in Latin America. I study questions related to the cultural value of biodiversity, the human footprint on ecological communities, and the policy interventions that can be done to support biodiversity conservation across Latin American ecosystems.
My work sits at the intersection of various academic fields, mostly drawing from ecosystem services, community ecology, biogeography, conservation psychology, and human-animal studies.
Gretchen Daily, (2/18/2020)
- Avian cultural services peak in tropical wet forests CONSERVATION LETTERS 2020
Shifts in species interactions and farming contexts mediate net effects of birds in agroecosystems
2020; 30 (5): e02115
Some birds are viewed as pests and vectors of foodborne pathogens in farmlands, yet birds also benefit growers by consuming pests. While many growers seek to prevent birds from accessing their farms, few studies have attempted to quantify the net effects of bird services and disservices, let alone how net effects shift across farm management strategies. We quantified the net effect of birds on crop production across 20 California strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa) farms that varied in local management practices and landscape context. We surveyed farms for berry damage and bird droppings (as potential sources of pathogens) and implemented a large-scale exclusion experiment to quantify the impact of birds on production. We found that birds had only a slightly negative overall impact on strawberry production, reducing economic value by 3.6%. Direct bird damage and intraguild predation contributed equally to this net effect, underscoring the importance of indirect trophic interactions that may be less apparent to growers. In simple landscapes (e.g., low proportions of surrounding seminatural habitat), birds provided pest control in the interiors of farm fields, and costs from bird damage to crops peaked at field edges. In complex landscapes (e.g., high proportions of seminatural habitat), birds were more likely to disrupt pest control by feeding as intraguild predators. Nonetheless, seminatural habitat dampened bird services and disservices, and our models predicted that removing habitat around farm fields would increase costs from bird damage to crops by up to 76%. Fecal contamination of crops was extremely rare (0.01%). However, both fecal contamination and bird damage did increase on farms with higher densities of fencing and wires, where birds often perch. Our results demonstrate that maintaining seminatural habitat around farms may enhance bird diversity and mitigate bird damage without increasing food safety risks. We also show that the net effects of birds depend on farming context and vary in complex ways in relation to locations within a farm, local farm attributes, and the surrounding landscape. This context-specific variation must be considered in order to optimize the management of wild birds in agroecosystems.
View details for DOI 10.1002/eap.2115
View details for Web of Science ID 000525773200001
View details for PubMedID 32145709
- Iconic manakins and despicable grackles: Comparing cultural ecosystem services and disservices across stakeholders in Costa Rica ECOLOGICAL INDICATORS 2019; 106
- Precipitation and tree cover gradients structure avian alpha diversity in North-western Costa Rica DIVERSITY AND DISTRIBUTIONS 2019; 25 (8): 1222–33
- Using the Phylo Card Game to advance biodiversity conservation in an era of Pokemon PALGRAVE COMMUNICATIONS 2019; 5
- Remnant forest in Costa Rican working landscapes fosters bird communities that are indistinguishable from protected areas JOURNAL OF APPLIED ECOLOGY 2019; 56 (7): 1839–49
- Eco-xenophobia among rural populations: the Great-tailed Grackle as a contested species in Guanacaste, Costa Rica HUMAN DIMENSIONS OF WILDLIFE 2019; 24 (4): 332–48
Evolving Food Safety Pressures in California's Central Coast Region
FRONTIERS IN SUSTAINABLE FOOD SYSTEMS
2019; 3: 24
View details for DOI 10.3389/fsufs.2019.00102
Can avian functional traits predict cultural ecosystem services?
PEOPLE AND NATURE
View details for DOI 10.1002/pan3.10058
- Do correlated responses to multiple environmental changes exacerbate or mitigate species loss? OIKOS 2018; 127 (12): 1724–34
- Approaching human-animal relationships from multiple angles: A synthetic perspective BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION 2018; 224: 50–62
Agriculture erases climate-driven beta-diversity in Neotropical bird communities
GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY
2018; 24 (1): 338–49
Earth is experiencing multiple global changes that will, together, determine the fate of many species. Yet, how biological communities respond to concurrent stressors at local-to-regional scales remains largely unknown. In particular, understanding how local habitat conversion interacts with regional climate change to shape patterns in β-diversity-differences among sites in their species compositions-is critical to forecast communities in the Anthropocene. Here, we study patterns in bird β-diversity across land-use and precipitation gradients in Costa Rica. We mapped forest cover, modeled regional precipitation, and collected data on bird community composition, vegetation structure, and tree diversity across 120 sites on 20 farms to answer three questions. First, do bird communities respond more strongly to changes in land use or climate in northwest Costa Rica? Second, does habitat conversion eliminate β-diversity across climate gradients? Third, does regional climate control how communities respond to habitat conversion and, if so, how? After correcting for imperfect detection, we found that local land-use determined community shifts along the climate gradient. In forests, bird communities were distinct between sites that differed in vegetation structure or precipitation. In agriculture, however, vegetation structure was more uniform, contributing to 7%-11% less bird turnover than in forests. In addition, bird responses to agriculture and climate were linked: agricultural communities across the precipitation gradient shared more species with dry than wet forest communities. These findings suggest that habitat conversion and anticipated climate drying will act together to exacerbate biotic homogenization.
View details for DOI 10.1111/gcb.13821
View details for Web of Science ID 000426506100056
View details for PubMedID 28833924
Explicit Not Implicit Preferences Predict Conservation Intentions for Endangered Species and Biomes
2017; 12 (1): e0170973
Conservation of biodiversity is determined in part by human preferences. Preferences relevant to conservation have been examined largely via explicit measures (e.g., a self-reported degree of liking), with implicit measures (e.g., preconscious, automatic evaluations) receiving relatively less attention. This is the case despite psychological evidence from other contexts that implicit preferences are more informative of behavior. Thus, the type of measure that predicts conservation intentions for biodiversity is unknown. We conducted three studies to examine conservation intentions in light of people's explicit and implicit preferences toward four endangered species (sea otter, American badger, caribou, yellow-breasted chat) and four biomes (forest, ocean, grassland, tundra). In Study 1 (n = 55), we found that people implicitly preferred caribou most, but explicitly preferred sea otter most, with a significant multiple regression where participants' explicit preferences dictated their stated intended donations for conservation of each species. In Study 2 (n = 57) we found that people implicitly and explicitly preferred forest and ocean over grassland and tundra. Explicit rather than implicit preferences predicted the intended donation for conservation of the ocean biome. Study 3 involved a broader online sample of participants (n = 463) and also found that explicit preferences dictated the intended donations for conservation of biomes and species. Our findings reveal discrepancies between implicit and explicit preferences toward species, but not toward biomes. Importantly, the results demonstrate that explicit rather than implicit preferences predict conservation intentions for biodiversity. The current findings have several implications for conservation and the communication of biodiversity initiatives.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0170973
View details for Web of Science ID 000396124700036
View details for PubMedID 28135298
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5279788
- How Messaging Shapes Attitudes toward Sea Otters as a Species at Risk HUMAN DIMENSIONS OF WILDLIFE 2017; 22 (2): 142–56