MEET THE WINNERS:
Dr. Lucrecia Souviron Priego

Nominated by SEO/Birdlife


The BioOne Ambassador Award recognizes early-career researchers who excel at communicating the importance and impact of their specialized research to the public. Nominees were asked to provide a 250-word plain-language summary of their research which responded to the question:

"What are the broader implications of your work, and how does your work impact the public at large?"

Responses were judged for their relevance and clarity. Read below to read Dr. Souviron Priego's winning summary, and learn more about her research.


The Sorry Story of Pet Parrots

A photograph shows a Dr. Souviron Priego looking at a tree with binoculars; a very small, well-camoflauged green bird sits on top of the tree.
Photo taken by Jose María García Carrasco

Parrots are a charismatic species. Their beauty and intelligence have captivated mankind for millennia. These features have attracted us so much that we have been taking them from their original habitats to lock them in cages as pets. Did you know that more than a MILLION parrots were legally imported to Spain in just under 40 years to supply the enormous demand of the exotic pet trade? And, did you know that several of those species have become invaders in Spain? How could this have happened?

Monk and ring-necked parakeets were popular pets in the 1990s in Spain, because they were cheap and cute. Thousands were imported every year. They have a dark secret, however. Their squawking is so annoying that many irresponsible owners just opened the cages and released them into an alien world. Some of these birds survived and thrived, and now the wild populations are counted by the thousands. Although the parakeet trade has been banned in Spain for years, other parrot species have replaced them and have already begun to settle in nature in the same way.

There are dire consequences of this legal trade, both in Spain and worldwide. They are not only a nuisance, they cause material damage and put the survival of native wildlife at risk. Even more importantly, these birds are a public health hazard, for parrots can transmit diseases to people. The consequences of your actions are important. So please, do not buy exotic pets. Without demand, there is no trade.

This summary is in reference to:

The Legal International Wildlife Trade Favours Invasive Species Establishment: The Monk and Ring-Necked Parakeets in Spain
Ardeola, 65(2):233-246. 2018.
Lucrecia Souviron Priego, Antonio Román Muñoz, Jesús Olivero, J. Mario Vargas, and John E. Fa.

Funding for this research was partially provided by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment Spanish National Parks Network (Project 1098/2014).


A photograph of Dr. Souviron Priego sitting at her desk.

Photo taken by Jose María García Carrasco

Dr. Lucrecia Souviron Priego
Nominated by SEO/BirdLife

I am a biologist who works on different conservation issues. After finishing my degree in Biology, I completed a Master's Degree in Wildlife Research and Hunting Resources at the University Institute of Wildlife Research (Spain).

In April 2019, I read my PhD at the University of Malaga (Spain) which is focused on the international wildlife trade worldwide.

The questions I am trying to answer include which animal species are more in demand, what are they mainly used for (e.g., pet trade, traditional medicine or ornament), and what is the role of each country in this business, as well as the consequences of trading exotic animals (i.e., the threat to these animals in their native environments and the introduction of invasive species).

Currently I work for the technical office of the Spanish IUCN committee and Aula del Mar de Malaga, involved in various projects related to species conservation, climate change and citizen science. Furthermore, I am collaborating with other researchers to create an online database focused on monitoring the illegal use of cetaceans for consumption and other uses around the globe.


What drew you to your current research field?

Animals have always fascinated me since I was a kid, so I decided to specialize in Biology. After finishing my course of studies, I decided to take a very important step in my life, which was to start a career in the scientific world. I wanted to work on something important that could be beneficial for both ecosystems and society, so when my former director (now retired) asked me to do a PhD about the problematic of wildlife trade, I had no doubt about taking the challenge.


Who most inspired and/or influenced your career?

First of all, I must mention my family, especially my father Francisco, who encouraged me to go a step further in my professional life. Secondly, to several colleagues of my research group, as well as to researchers that I have met in national and international congresses throughout all these years.


What one thing would you like the public to remember or understand about your research?

Wildlife trade (both illegal and legal) is nowadays one of the major threats for biodiversity and conservation, and it affects lots of species worldwide. It is not just elephants, rhinos or tigers, but also reptiles, birds, fish, insects, etc.


If you had one piece of advice for someone who wants to pursue research in your field, what would it be?

Investigating animal trafficking is not easy, but it is not impossible either. It is important to have patience, perseverance, and above all to be cautious and not to be carried away by feelings even if it is difficult.


CONTACT INFORMATION

Dr. Lucrecia Souviron Priego
lucsoupri@uma.es

For information about SEO/BirdLife, please visit their website:

Sociedad Española de Ornitología (SEO)/BirdLife


For questions about BioOne or the BioOne Ambassador award, please contact:

Caroline Breul
caroline@BioOne.org


Read the rest of the winning summaries →