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Poaching, habitat loss and the decline of neotropical parrots: a comparative spatial analysis


Journal of Experimental Criminology

Published online on



To evaluate the relative contributions of poaching and habitat loss to the endangerment of neotropical parrots


A matched case-control design was employed. Using NatureServe digitized range maps for birds in the Americas, 145 neotropical parrot species were individually matched with 145 control species, from similar ranges and, by proxy, from similar habitats. The control species were taxonomically similar, mid-sized, forest-dwelling birds that, like parrots, use holes and cavities for breeding and roosting. The conservation status of the parrots and control birds was established through the IUCN Red List of endangered species.


Nearly five times as many parrot species (59 out of 145) as non-parrots (13 out of 145) are threatened with extinction to some degree. In 54 out of 65 pairs with unequal conservation status, the parrot species is at greater risk of extinction.


Subject to limitations of the matching employed and the use of range data as a proxy for habitat, it is concluded that poaching is a strong threat to the conservation of neotropical parrots—perhaps stronger than habitat loss. Criminologists therefore have an important part to play in conservation of parrots, and perhaps also in conservation of other endangered species, through identification and implementation of measures to control poaching.