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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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ARTICLE
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 227-235

Resisting Extinction: Purple Martins, Death, and the Future


1 Department of Anthropology and Center for Applied Social Research; Applied Aeroecology Program, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, USA
2 Department of Anthropology and Center for Applied Social Research, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, USA
3 Department of Biology; Applied Aeroecology Program, University of Oklahoma; University of Oklahoma Biological Survey, Norman, Oklahoma, USA
4 Applied Aeroecology Program, University of Oklahoma; University of Oklahoma Biological Survey, Norman, Oklahoma, USA

Correspondence Address:
Lori L Jervis
Department of Anthropology and Center for Applied Social Research; Applied Aeroecology Program, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
USA
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/cs.cs_18_37

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As a result of anthropogenically induced habitat destruction and climate change, the Eastern Purple Martin in North America has been transformed into a “backyard bird,” dependent on a network of “landlords” for nesting structures and protection from competitor species. While the orthodox approach to wildlife conservation tends to promote the continued existence of appropriate habitats, the conservation of the Eastern Purple Martin has hinged upon the continued existence of a specific human cultural behaviour. This landlording subculture, however, is now believed to be waning due to the aging demographics of the landlords themselves, threatening the long-term survival of the species. This article focuses on the relationships between 24 landlords—primarily older, white, southern US men—and their avian charges. The long-term bond between the birds and their human keepers meant that the landlords were confronting not only their own mortality but also the extinction of the birds to which they have devoted themselves. Their continuing struggles to recruit younger generations into landlording suggest the need for new models of martin conservation that can appeal to the post-domestic and internet savvy sensibilities of today's youth.


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