Conservation co-benefits from air pollution regulation: evidence from birds

Yuanning Liang, Ivan Rudik, Eric Yongchen Zou, Alison Johnston, Amanda D. Rodewald, Catherine L. Kling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Massive wildlife losses over the past 50 y have brought new urgency to identifying both the drivers of population decline and potential solutions. We provide large-scale evidence that air pollution, specifically ozone, is associated with declines in bird abundance in the United States. We show that an air pollution regulation limiting ozone precursors emissions has delivered substantial benefits to bird conservation. Our estimates imply that air quality improvements over the past 4 decades have stemmed the decline in bird populations, averting the loss of 1.5 billion birds, similar to 20% of current totals. Our results highlight that in addition to protecting human health, air pollution regulations have previously unrecognized and unquantified conservation cobenefits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30900-30906
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number49
Early online date24 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2020


  • Birds
  • Cobenefits
  • Citizen science
  • Air pollution
  • Conservation


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