Language barriers in global bird conservation

Negret, P.J., Atkinson, S.C., Woodworth, B.K., Corella, Tor M., Allan, J.R., Fuller, R.A. & Amano, T. (2022) PLOS ONE 17 (4): e0267151.

Multiple languages being spoken within a species’ distribution can impede communication among conservation stakeholders, the compilation of scientific information, and the development of effective conservation actions.

By combining global datasets of distributions of 10,863 bird species and 119 official languages in 252 countries/territoris in the world, we showed that a surprisingly large number of languages are spoken within the distribution of each bird species. For example, 1,587 bird species have 10 languages or more spoken within their distributions.

Importantly, we also showed threatened and migratory species have significantly more languages spoken within their distributions. Particularly high numbers of species with many languages within their distribution are found in Eastern Europe, Russia and central and western Asia.

View full publication, here.

Also explore our Bird Language Diversity app, where you can see where in the world particularly many species are associated with each language.

See the news release from The University of Queensland here.

(a) Relationship between bird species’ distribution range size and the number of official languages within their distribution. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) threat categories are shown in different colours. Number of official languages spoken within each species’ distribution by (b) migratory status and IUCN threat categories, and by (c) taxonomic order.

Species richness of birds associated with each of the top six official languages with the highest number of species.

See for the results of other languages.