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The wildlife trade threatens global biodiversity and animal welfare, where parrots are among the taxa most frequently traded, supplying exotic pets and captive breeders worldwide. Using phylogenetic path analysis, we examine how biological factors interact with price to influence online protected parrot trade volumes in China, using transactions recorded for 46 species (n = 5,862 individuals). Trade was greatest in smaller, faster breeding species that commanded a lower price. This price effect followed the economic law of demand, with Relatively Inelastic Demand (-0.758), outweighing indicators of 'quality' such as body coloration, and conservation status. We identify two areas of concern: those larger, slower-breeding, rarer species, even though sold at lower numbers, may be at conservation risk if harvested from the wild. In contrast, the sheer numbers (over 90% of the individuals were under median generation length, body mass and/or price) and ready availability of smaller and more common species comprises a substantial overall animal welfare issue, given that the capture, importation, or captive breeding of many parrot species in China is illegal and thus unregulated. Our investigation highlights the importance of properly understanding the internal relations among drivers of wildlife trade to inform appropriate management.

Original publication




Journal article


Glob Ecol Conserv

Publication Date



Animal welfare, Conservation, Phylogenetic path analysis, Price elasticity of demand, Wildlife trade