Biophilia: Pittsburgh is the pilot chapter for a global Biophilia Network of creative minds dedicated to strengthening the bond between people and the natural world through education, discussion and action.

Join Pittsburgh’s new network of creative minds working together to strengthen the bond between people and the natural world.

Biophilia: Pittsburgh September Meeting — Birds and Beans: How Consumer Choices Impact Bird Populations

Join us on Thurs., Sept. 5 at Café Phipps with Dr. Steven C. Latta, director of conservation and field research at the National Aviary, for a talk about how Industrial-scale agriculture is now one of the greatest threats to birds worldwide. Migratory birds face unique challenges from agriculture, not only on their northern breeding grounds, but also on their wintering grounds in the tropics and during two long migrations. Agroforestry — agriculture which incorporates the cultivation and conservation of trees — can be relatively beneficial to birds while still providing livelihoods and food products for humans. In this talk, Dr. Latta will explore the impacts two types of agroforestry — shade coffee and cacao plantations — and the impact each can have on birds in the Dominican Republic. He will also discuss his studies of the Louisiana waterthrush, which migrates from Western Pennsylvania to the Dominican Republic, to illustrate how habitat degradation leads to population reductions.

Meet the Speaker

Dr. Steven C. Latta is director of conservation and field research at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh. He completed his doctorate at the University of Missouri and his post-doctoral research at the University of Missouri – St. Louis, all the while studying the ecology of tropical birds. He then served for four years as the director of the Latin American program at Point Reyes Bird Observatory where he developed long term monitoring programs in many countries and trained hundreds of locally-based biologists and naturalists in standardized monitoring techniques. He has been at the National Aviary for the past 12 years, and continues to work in the Caribbean islands and Latin America in addition to studying Andean condors and the neotropical Louisiana waterthrush. He has authored several books on the birds of Hispaniola, has published nearly 150 articles and book chapters, and continues to dedicate himself to training young biologists in developing countries in field research and monitoring techniques and educating the general public on the importance of conservation. Steve also teaches field courses through the University of Pittsburgh and serves on graduate student committees from many universities.

Meeting Schedule

5:30 – 6 p.m. — Networking and refreshments
6 – 6:30 p.m. — Presentation
6:30 – 7 p.m. — Discussion

Meetings are free to attend; however, advance registration is required. To R.S.V.P., please send us an email or sign up on our Meetup page

Discover Our Additional Resources

Designed as a series of posts on the Phipps blog and a hashtag for use on Twitter and Instagram#bioPGH is a new social call-to-action for people throughout the region to more closely examine the beauty and importance of the nature around them.

The Biophilic Mind is a blog focused on presenting primary-source articles at the intersection of human health and the natural world. The Biophilic Mind aims to highlight high quality, recent research about the connections between well-being and nature.

Inspired by the Biophilic Cities initiative, the Biophilia: Pittsburgh Directory seeks to present an overview of the biophilic organizations, events, activities and projects in Pittsburgh, to aid the public in enhancing their connections to nature and discovering collaborative opportunities. 

In this archive, you may access presentation materials and video recordings from previous installments of our monthly Biophilia: Pittsburgh meeting series. Additions will be made often, so visit regularly for the latest materials to deepen your Biophilia: Pittsburgh experience.

Biophilia: Pittsburgh meets monthly at Café Phipps at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens where, over delicious small-plates and light refreshments, a discipline or behavior is identified — often by an expert guest speaker — and discussed among the participants in the interest of sharing ideas and identifying opportunities. 


Directions and Parking 

The meeting will take place at Café Phipps, and entry will be available through the main Conservatory entrance at our Welcome Center. Guest parking spaces will be available at the parking island on Schenley Drive.


Our Goals

• To welcome and inspire others with the concept and principles of biophilia
• To foster collaboration and learning between professionals from a wide variety of disciplines
• To communicate biophilic principles in action-oriented ways to a wider audience for exponential and regional impact


What Is Biophilia?

The term “biophilia,” which literally means “love of life,” was coined by social psychologist Erich Fromm and popularized by biologist E.O. Wilson, who defined it as “the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms.”

The implications of biophilia extend across a vast array of disciplines including design and engineering, nutrition, psychology, public health, education, biology and the humanities. Biophilia is expressed all over the world every day, through complex collaborations such as the design and construction of buildings and landscapes; and intimate, personal encounters including nature hikes and home gardening.

Photo © Paul g. Wiegman, Phipps staff