Wildlife and crises: Impacts of COVID-19 pandemic and social conflict

COVID-19 Pandemic:

The multi-faceted impacts of the COVID-19 on households around the world has implications for food security, well-being and use of natural resources. The pandemic holds the potential to shift household reliance on natural resources as a safety net when disease control measures affect access to other forms of capital. Our work in this area builds on existing frameworks to theorize impacts on household resilience and use of wildlife in the face of the pandemic. We are also examining the impacts of COVID-19 on fishing communities in Kenya during the early phase of the pandemic from March 2020 to June 2021. Further, we are examining altered use of wild and backyard foods in the US during the early phase of the pandemic, and contributing to a consortium of researchers examining impacts on US food security through the National Food Access and COVID Research Team (NFACT).

Example Projects:

  • Okronipa, HO, Bageant, ER, Baez, J, Onyango, HO, Aura, CM, Fiorella, KJ. 2023. COVID-19 experiences of small-scale fishing households in 2020-2021: The case of Lake Victoria, Kenya. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems. 6.
  • Upton, J, Tennant, E, Fiorella, KJ, Barrett, CB. 2023. Chapter 10: COVID-19, household resilience and rural food systems: Evidence from southern and eastern Africa, Edited be C Bene and S Deveroux. Resilience and Food Security. Palgrave.
  • Fiorella, KJ, Bageant ER, Mojica, L, Obuya, J, Olela, P, Ochieng, J, Otuo, P, Onyango, HO, Aura, C, Okronipa, H. 2021. Small-scale fishing households facing COVID-19: the case of Lake Victoria, Kenya. Fisheries Research. 237: 105856.
  •  Niles, MT…Coffin-Schmitt, J…Fiorella, KJ, et al. 2021. A Multi-Site Analysis of the Prevalence of Food Security in the United States, before and during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Current Developments in Nutrition. 5(12): nzab135.
  • Fiorella, KJ, Coffin-Schmitt, J, Gaynor, KM, Gregory, GH, Rasolofoson, R, Seto, KL. 2020. Feedbacks from human health to household reliance on natural resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lancet Planetary Health. 4: e441-e442.
  • Gaynor, KM, Brashares, JS, Gregory, GH, Kurz, DJ, Seto, KL, Withey, LS, Fiorella, KJ. 2020. Anticipating the complex impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on wildlife. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 18(10).

This work was funded by Cornell Atkinson Center COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund awards.

Social Conflict:

Declining wildlife availability has resulted in a range of social ills, and conflict has had broad impacts on wildlife persistence and conservation. Research in this arena with collaborators at the University of California, Berkeley seeks to expound the ways in which declining aquatic and terrestrial wildlife relate to social conflict. Pathways illuminated include vigilante governance of wildlife resources, forced labor resulting from the need to harvest scarce resources, and the role of organized crime in the trade of high value wildlife products. In a related research effort, I am examining the effects of declining fish availability on the transactional exchange of sex-for-fish around Lake Victoria.

Example Projects:

  • Gaynor, KM, Fiorella, KJ, Kurz, DJ, Gregory, GH, Seto, KL, Withey, LS, Brashares, JS. 2016. War and wildlife: linking armed conflict to conservation. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 14(10): 533-542. (cover story)
  • Brashares, JS, Abrahms, B, Fiorella, KJ, Golden, CD, Marsh, RA, McCauley, DJ, Nunez, T, Seto, K, Withey, L. 2014. Wildlife Decline and Social Conflict. 2014. Science. 345(6195): 376-378.