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Sue Haig

Comments about the Society for Ornithology

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The AOU20XX Committee (Susan Haig, Bonnie Bowen, John Fitzpatrick, Frank Gill, Dylan Kesler, Brian Olsen, and David Winkler) would love to hear any ideas or concerns you have about this new venture for American ornithological societies. The details are described below:

 

In a unanimous vote at the July 2011 annual meeting, the AOU Council approved a motion to move forward with planning to form a new society, with ultimate hopes of uniting and strengthening Western Hemisphere ornithology. The plan could involve a merger of AOU and one or more other ornithological societies into a western hemisphere ornithological society tentatively named the Society for Ornithology.

 

This new Society for Ornithology would result in a clean slate for designing new governance and new journals, as well as provide broad opportunities to promote the field of ornithology, ornithologists, and avian conservation.

 

Most significantly, plans include development of four new journals housed under a single editorial office. Online journals would appear online monthly, and in paper form quarterly. Focus will vary from cutting edge basic research to descriptive ornithology and will include a new journal on avian conservation and management. This new editorial effort would result in cessation of the Auk, and perhaps certain journals of partner societies that join in this sweeping reform.

 

The new society might include regional sections and topical working groups that will meet bi-annually. Meetings of the unified society could be hosted bi-annually in years opposite of section and working group meetings.

 

Plans for further development of the Society for Ornithology involve immediate invitation to all OSNA societies and other ornithological groups interested in helping pioneer this historic change in western hemisphere ornithology. The Cooper Ornithological Society already has indicated a strong interest in the new effort, and talks are underway with the other societies.

 

A business plan is now being developed for presentation to the AOU Council and other partner groups by early February 2012. The AOU Council and partners will meet in Dallas in February to discuss and further develop the business plan. A comment period will be provided to members of all partnering societies following development of the draft business plan. The AOU Council will vote on this final business plan (from an AOU perspective) at the NAOC in Vancouver (August 2012). Until then, comments can be posted below or sent to AOU President-Elect Susan Haig (susan_haig@usgs.gov).

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Guest BASchreiber

I know there has been a committee looking into a possible merger of some of the socieities and collecting ideas about it for several years. I suspect that some kind of merger is a good idea as there are too many meetings to go to (so people attend maybe one and thus miss other colleagures with whom they might interact if there was one joint meeting) , editorial expenses for separate societies are very large, a lot of duplicate effort is spent by councils decideding the same types of things, etc., etc.

 

As an AOU, COS, Wilson, AFO, Waterbirds member I would hope that a massive change of this sort would be voted on by the membership of the societies, not just the councils. This goes far beyond general governance of the societies, which the councils are elected to do. NOthing in the memo I read says that the Societies will vote (as they have to do for bylaws changes for most).

 

The idea also needs input from more than just the councils of the societies before it is finalized. Our memberships have a lot of experience and knowledge to help make this a good plan.

 

Betty Anne Schreiber

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If this to be successful in discussions must extend beyond the USA based ornithological societies and include some of the outstanding groups in Mexico, Central and South America. This should certainly be explored at the upcoming NOC-Peru this Fall.

Jack Clinton Eitniear

Membership Secretary/Neotropical Ornithological Society

Director/Center for the Study of Tropical Birds, Inc.

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Reply to BA: The idea is for a business plan to be developed with reps from interested societies by mid-February. At that point, each interested society will further discuss the plan and suggest any changes. Between February and the NAOC, there will be a major effort to solicit comments from every member of every interested society.--with each society determining how to carry that out with their members as well as a general call for comments. The AOU will vote on funding the beginning of the new society at the NAOC. Other societies will vote to formally join at the time they feel most comfortable.

 

All societies will continue for several years while the new society gets off the ground. Thus, the AOU vote at the NAOC is not to dissolve the AOU, Rather, just to provide some start-up funds.

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Reply to: Jack Clinton Eitniear

 

We definitely hope to have Latin American societies join us as well as members of NGOs such as DU, etc. At this stage, we are just trying to determine costs of starting what will be a non-profit. Thus, the costs of an executive director, merging journal efforts, etc. Once we determine exactly waht we are proposing, we will extend an invitation to as many groups would like to join.

 

I should note that we sent an invitation to NOS President Joe Wonderle a month ago and he is discussing it among members.

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I urge the individuals leading the development of SFO plans to make their efforts transparent to all ornithologists. It appears that committees are being established and populated for consideration of various aspects of the SFO concept ... but no mechanism has been created (as far as I know) to provide information about these details to the broader ornithological community. This would be easy to do using a forum about the SFO planning process here on OE.

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