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
JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) Champion, Stanford University. Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (2021)
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)
Gretchen Daily, Postdoctoral Research Mentor
Gretchen Daily, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
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)
Colombian biodiversity is governed by a rich and diverse policy mix.
Nature ecology & evolution
We lack an understanding of how diverse policymakers interact to govern biodiversity. Taking Colombia as a focal case, we examined six decades of biodiversity governance (1959-2018). Here we analysed the composition of the policy mix, and how it has evolved over time, how policies differ among lead actors and ecosystems, and whether the policy mix addresses the primary threats to biodiversity. We identified 186 biodiversity-related policies that govern multiple ecosystems, use different instruments and address the main threats to biodiversity (that is, agriculture and aquaculture, and biological resource use). We found policy gaps in the governance of invasive species and wildlife trade. Biodiversity policy integration into some sectoral policies, such as climate change, poverty and pollution, has become more common in the past decade. Our results point to an increased need for effective coordination across sectors and actors, as new ones influence and implement the policy mix.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41559-023-01983-4
View details for PubMedID 36747078
Renegotiating identities in international academic careers
NATURE ECOLOGY & EVOLUTION
2022; 6 (12): 1796-1798
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41559-022-01895-9
View details for Web of Science ID 000864227000001
View details for PubMedID 36195657
Biodiversity and infrastructure interact to drive tourism to and within Costa Rica.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
2022; 119 (11): e2107662119
SignificanceTourism accounts for roughly 10% of global gross domestic product, with nature-based tourism its fastest-growing sector in the past 10 years. Nature-based tourism can theoretically contribute to local and sustainable development by creating attractive livelihoods that support biodiversity conservation, but whether tourists prefer to visit more biodiverse destinations is poorly understood. We examine this question in Costa Rica and find that more biodiverse places tend indeed to attract more tourists, especially where there is infrastructure that makes these places more accessible. Safeguarding terrestrial biodiversity is critical to preserving the substantial economic benefits that countries derive from tourism. Investments in both biodiversity conservation and infrastructure are needed to allow biodiverse countries to rely on tourism for their sustainable development.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.2107662119
View details for PubMedID 35245152
Avian cultural services peak in tropical wet forests
View details for DOI 10.1111/conl.12763
View details for Web of Science ID 000569790600001
The Present and Future of Insect Biodiversity Conservation in the Neotropics: Policy Gaps and Recommendations.
Emerging evidence suggests that insect populations may be declining at local and global scales, threatening the sustainability of the ecosystem services that insects provide. Insect declines are of particular concern in the Neotropics, which holds several of the world's hotspots of insect endemism and diversity. Conservation policies are one way to prevent and mitigate insect declines, yet these policies are usually biased toward vertebrate species. Here, we outline some key policy instruments for biodiversity conservation in the Neotropics and discuss their potential contribution and shortcomings for insect biodiversity conservation. These include species-specific action policies, protected areas and Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs), sectoral policies, biodiversity offsetting, market-based mechanisms, and the international policy instruments that underpin these efforts. We highlight that although these policies can potentially benefit insect biodiversity indirectly, there are avenues in which we could better incorporate the specific needs of insects into policy to mitigate the declines mentioned above. We propose several areas of improvement. Firstly, evaluating the extinction risk of more Neotropical insects to better target at-risk species with species-specific policies and conserve their habitats within area-based interventions. Secondly, alternative pest control methods and enhanced monitoring of insects in a range of land-based production sectors. Thirdly, incorporating measurable and achievable insect conservation targets into international policies and conventions. Finally, we emphasise the important roles of community engagement and enhanced public awareness in achieving these improvements to insect conservation policies.
View details for DOI 10.1007/s13744-023-01031-7
View details for PubMedID 36918492
Complex landscapes stabilize farm bird communities and their expected ecosystem services
JOURNAL OF APPLIED ECOLOGY
View details for DOI 10.1111/1365-2664.14104
View details for Web of Science ID 000743763900001
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
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ecolind.2019.105454
View details for Web of Science ID 000490577900022
Precipitation and tree cover gradients structure avian alpha diversity in North-western Costa Rica
DIVERSITY AND DISTRIBUTIONS
2019; 25 (8): 1222–33
View details for DOI 10.1111/ddi.12932
View details for Web of Science ID 000476676000004
Using the Phylo Card Game to advance biodiversity conservation in an era of Pokemon
View details for DOI 10.1057/s41599-019-0287-9
View details for Web of Science ID 000476607200002
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
View details for DOI 10.1111/1365-2664.13419
View details for Web of Science ID 000474270200029
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
View details for DOI 10.1080/10871209.2019.1614239
View details for Web of Science ID 000471541000001
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?
2018; 127 (12): 1724–34
View details for DOI 10.1111/oik.05288
View details for Web of Science ID 000451851200003
Approaching human-animal relationships from multiple angles: A synthetic perspective
2018; 224: 50–62
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.biocon.2018.05.015
View details for Web of Science ID 000439537600006
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
View details for DOI 10.1080/10871209.2016.1272146
View details for Web of Science ID 000401080500004