Presentation Title

Mutually beneficial collaborations between residential conservation programs and academic researchers: Lessons from St. Louis

Start Date

7-3-2022 2:50 PM

End Date

7-3-2022 3:00 PM

Abstract

There has been growing interest in conducting biodiversity research in residential areas; however, finding suitable study sites is a challenge. Saint Louis University in Missouri has overcome this hurdle by establishing a collaboration with St. Louis Audubon’s Bring Conservation Home (BCH), the sister program to Portland’s Backyard Habitat Certification Program. We aim to highlight the elements of our partnership, the benefits to both organizations and community participants, and some challenges. BCH’s multi-tiered certification program offers a study system ideal for ecological research: a single factorial comparison of habitat differences at the local scale across a gradient of urbanization. We are investigating patterns of bee, bird and mosquito diversity across 45 BCH yards. The collaboration also offers opportunities for community engagement. We have created a citizen science project and many BCH enrollees are eager to participate and learn more about the wildlife in their yard. Additionally, we partnered with psychologists to determine whether enrollment in BCH has promoted changes in human behavior.

However, challenges remain. Due to the nature of the research, additional legal and regulatory documentation was needed. Adding sub-studies also led to confusion among participants and required additional communication. In total, however, the benefits outweighed the challenges. BCH benefited from having their certification criteria empirically tested. Community members both gained and provided knowledge and felt pride in having legitimately contributed to science and conservation. We advocate for an expanded conceptualization of what collaborations with home conservation programs can be to one mutually beneficial for all stakeholders.

Subjects

Conservation biology, Environmental education, Habitat assessment

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Mar 7th, 2:50 PM Mar 7th, 3:00 PM

Mutually beneficial collaborations between residential conservation programs and academic researchers: Lessons from St. Louis

There has been growing interest in conducting biodiversity research in residential areas; however, finding suitable study sites is a challenge. Saint Louis University in Missouri has overcome this hurdle by establishing a collaboration with St. Louis Audubon’s Bring Conservation Home (BCH), the sister program to Portland’s Backyard Habitat Certification Program. We aim to highlight the elements of our partnership, the benefits to both organizations and community participants, and some challenges. BCH’s multi-tiered certification program offers a study system ideal for ecological research: a single factorial comparison of habitat differences at the local scale across a gradient of urbanization. We are investigating patterns of bee, bird and mosquito diversity across 45 BCH yards. The collaboration also offers opportunities for community engagement. We have created a citizen science project and many BCH enrollees are eager to participate and learn more about the wildlife in their yard. Additionally, we partnered with psychologists to determine whether enrollment in BCH has promoted changes in human behavior.

However, challenges remain. Due to the nature of the research, additional legal and regulatory documentation was needed. Adding sub-studies also led to confusion among participants and required additional communication. In total, however, the benefits outweighed the challenges. BCH benefited from having their certification criteria empirically tested. Community members both gained and provided knowledge and felt pride in having legitimately contributed to science and conservation. We advocate for an expanded conceptualization of what collaborations with home conservation programs can be to one mutually beneficial for all stakeholders.