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NAOC Symposia now posted

Fern Davies

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All Day Symposia


Identifying Unifying Factors Driving Bird Population Declines: Are Life History Traits All That Matter?
Elizabeth Gow, Nicole Michel
In this era of global change, traits associated with vulnerability to global warming, deforestation, and agricultural expansion may provide a convenient method of grouping species for conservation prioritization and management. But do these species groupings provide valuable insights or obscure underlying species-specific variation? In this symposium, we bring together ornithologists and conservation biologists working in academia, government and non-profit organizations from a range of systems around the world to address which unifying factors (e.g. habitat use, migration strategies, diet, foraging behavior, or physiology) are most useful for identifying causes of avian population declines.


Network Theory in Ornithology
Daizaburo Shizuka, Iris Levin
Network theory has emerged as a unifying framework for understanding the causes and consequences of complexity at all levels of biological organization. The goal of this symposium is to highlight how network approaches are providing new insights into the ecology and evolution of birds in a variety of ways. This symposium will appeal to a broad audience, with talks covering an array of topics including complex trait evolution, social dynamics, evolutionary divergence, migration ecology, and conservation biology.


North American Breeding Bird Survey Symposium: Fifty Years and Counting for Bird Conservation — Highlights and New Research
Keith Pardieck, John Sauer
The North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) is a central component of ornithological research and management in North America. In this full-day symposium, we celebrate the survey's 50th anniversary by honoring its rich past and then explore topics relating to the program's current relevance and future direction. The first session includes presentations that provide a retrospective of the survey's key accomplishments, highlighting the ways that BBS data have been used to advance North American avian conservation over the last 50 years. The second session spotlights current and forthcoming efforts to expand the portfolio and geographic scope of the survey to better support emerging avian conservation needs. The final session features presentations that explore BBS analysis and validation issues followed by an open discussion of the topics presented throughout the day.


Linking Scientists with Practitioners: Current Anthropogenic Issues and the Best Management Practices and Decision Support Tools for Bird Conservation in Practice
Joelle Gehring, Ashley Dayer
Linking Scientists with Practitioners: Current Anthropogenic Issues and the Best Management Practices and Decision Support Tools for Bird Conservation in Practice. This symposium will bring scientists with current research together with the practitioners who apply recommended practices based on the research. We will include talks on anthropogenic issues facing many resource practitioners, including renewable energy sources (e.g., solar and wind), pesticides (including neonicotinoids), communications towers, powerlines, cat predation, collisions with glass, and land use planning, as an element of bird conservation planning (e.g., climate change). The symposium will include two facilitated panel discussions to help foster the flow of knowledge, the exchange of ideas, the building of long-term contacts, and the communication of knowledge gaps between researchers and resource practitioners.


Present Research in Ecology and Conservation of Birds in Mexico
Raul Ortiz-Pulido, Fernando Villasenor
Description to come.


Shorebirds in a Changing World: Connecting Research and Conservation
Kristen Grond, Richard Lanctot
The majority of shorebird species in North America have been declining rapidly. We will focus our symposium on the central issues facing shorebirds today and we aim to provide an extensive overview of the status of shorebird populations, and the anthropogenic and natural threats that shorebirds face. Subsequently, we will summarize important conservation efforts that have and are being implemented for particular species and discuss range-wide efforts that are being conducted in the Americas and East Asia.


Surviving the Heat: Integrating Physiology, Behavior, and Morphology to Predict Population Responses to Climate Change
Blair Wolf, Andrew McKechnie
Description to come.


Understanding and Engaging America's Birdwatchers: What is the Path to Conservation Action? 
Terrell Rich, Kenn Kaufman
At no time in history have we had a better foundation for bird conservation. Scientific ornithology, vulnerability assessments, land use planning, strategic conservation, and public-private partnerships all continue to advance to unprecedented levels. At the same time, the number of birders in the United States continues to increase, now numbering as many as 47,000,000. However, state and federal funding for bird conservation is, at best, flat, and more frequently declining. This symposium will explore what we know about the values and the actions of birders, and offer ideas that can lead to more effective public policies in support of bird conservation.



Lightning Symposia


Automated Radio Telemetry in Bird Research and Conservation
Philip Taylor, Stuart Mackenzie
This symposium will feature a diverse array of research utilizing automated radio telemetry systems that further our understanding of bird population dynamics, behaviour, physiology, and movement during all phases of the annual cycle. Talks will summarize a wide range of collaborative and independent research efforts on multiple species, at multiple spatial scales (local, regional and continental), during all life cycle stages, and for various purposes (behaviour, migratory connectivity, habitat use, physiology, or conservation). It will close with a brief synopsis of future work, collaborative opportunities, and challenges ahead. In addition to informing the scientific community of the most recent advances in automated telemetry, the symposium will also serve to promote new research collaborations and will serve as a basis for developing the Motus Wildlife Tracking System (Motus), a centralized, coordinated global system for automated radio-telemetry studies.


Birds & Farms: Science & Romance
Bill Wilson, Scott Weidensaul
Birds, Farms and Conservation: What truly sustainable organic farming in the Americas is doing and can do for bird conservation. A lightning round presentation with experts from Latin America, the US and Canada on how changing the way Americans eat and drink could have major benefits to birds as well as to family farms and rural economies. This is a fact based session and discussion that will leave participants with actions they can take today that will help stop bird population decline and bio-diversity loss throughout the Western Hemisphere.  


Full Life Cycle Conservation through Education Making Connections for Migratory Bird Conservation Across the Western Hemisphere
Susan Bonfield
Learn about the logistics, challenges, and successes of making connections across boundaries to share messages and education about migratory bird conservation. Seven presenters who work across the Western Hemisphere will share the latest data on the effectiveness of bird education programs, how shared programs benefit bird conservation educators and organizations, and mechanisms for collaborating across the Western Hemisphere. 


Keeping Common Birds Common I: Innovative Science Approaches to Conservation
Ken Rosenberg, Clark Rushing
The objective of our first of two paired lightening sessions is to present an overview of state-of-the-art science approaches currently being used to inform on-the-ground management and achieve conservation success. Our speakers will cover a broad range of topics to contextualize how science can lead to conservation success, including vulnerability assessment, demographic modeling, data-driven decision-making, habitat protection throughout the annual cycle, and hemispheric bird monitoring.


Keeping Common Birds Common II: Case Studies of Science-based Applications for Conservation
Kent Rosenberg, Clark Rushing
This second paired lighting session will highlight specific case studies of applications of innovative science approaches for conservation, which were introduced during the first lightning session (08/17). The main objective of this session is to present how science-based conservation strategies are being implemented by Migratory Bird Joint Ventures in the U.S. and a network of government and non-governmental partners throughout the hemisphere.


The Role of Modern Zoos in Avian Conservation
Kevin Kerr, Sara Hallager
This symposium will showcase top notch zoo conservation programs, identify new or over-looked challenges facing zoo conservation, and highlight cutting edge tools and programs that assist conservation efforts both in situ and ex situ. The topics covered offer a comprehensive review of the most pertinent factors affecting zoo conservation today and illustrate what can be achieved when like-minded organizations and individuals work together.



Morning Symposia


Adding Molt to the Full-annual-cycle Perspective on Avian Conservation
Luke Butler
Amid widespread appreciation that to conserve birds we must study them throughout the annual cycle, research on molt lags behind research on other life history stages. This symposium puts molt in the spotlight. Presenters will share recent findings and synthesize progress in our understanding the physiological ecology and evolution of molt in birds, with an emphasis on how that new knowledge informs conservation. 


Avian Indicators: What Can Birds Tell Us About Ecosystem Health and Environmental Change?
Kirsty Gurney, Joel Schmutz
Changes in ecological systems, whether due to anthropogenic or natural perturbations, can have profound and multi-faceted impacts on avian health. Identifying these impacts – and how they interact at multiple temporal and spatial scales – is critical for linking ornithological science with conservation of biodiversity. This symposium will bring together speakers who (i) will describe studies where free-ranging birds have been used as sentinels of ecosystem health to effectively inform conservation efforts and (ii) will discuss the methodologies, including experimental design, key assumptions, and limitations, in using avifauna to detect ecosystem-level biological impacts of a wide variety of stressors, including climate change, contaminants, disease, and habitat loss. 


Beyond the Treaty: The Future of Migratory Bird Conservation in North America
Rachel Levin, Jennifer Allen
2016 marks the centennial of the Convention between the United States and Great Britain (for Canada) for the Protection of Migratory Birds, a precedent-setting treaty that launched a century of successful international conservation efforts. Although much has been achieved, contemporary issues such as climate change, bird strikes, energy development and light pollution are changing our world and our conservation strategies. In this symposium presenters will: discuss the historical elements that shaped bird conservation and fueled many key milestones such as seminal laws and citizen science; present accomplishments and promising action-oriented solutions for resolving modern day threats; share innovative sociological and technological strategies (e.g., crowdsourcing and social media) to reach diverse audiences; and engage an international panel in discussing solutions that promote a future where birds AND humans thrive.  


Big Data Ornithology
Christopher Lepczyk, Frank La Sorte
Ornithology, like many other scientific disciplines, has been increasingly been involved in Big Data, which has advanced research and application in new and exciting ways. However, a synthesis on what Big Data has revealed in avian ecology, its current position in the field, and where it may move to in the future has been lacking. Considering this need, the goals of the symposium are to provide examples of recent advances in Big Data based research, discuss how Big Data is reshaping our understanding of birds at different spatial and temporal scales, how it can aid in conservation and management, and ultimately where the field may be moving. 


Birds as City Slickers: Unraveling the Mechanisms of How Birds Cope with Living in Urban Environments
Petra Sumasgutner, Hannah Watson
Birds as city slickers: Unraveling the mechanisms of how birds cope with living in urban environments” will focus on mechanisms underpinning individual responses to urban stressors and long-term consequences for population viability. Adopting novel experimental approaches and state-of-the-art methodologies, participants will present research from diverse fields including behavioral and reproductive ecology, signaling and communication, toxicology and genomics. A greater understanding of the sensitivities of wild birds to urbanization is necessary to understand their capacity to adapt to rapid global change.


Conservation of Caribbean Forest Endemic Birds — Bringing Science and Conservation Together
Howard Nelson, Leo Douglas
Forest endemic birds in the insular Caribbean are an extremely diverse group, with many species threatened due to human disturbance. Data on these island endemics remains limited. In this symposium stakeholders engaged in the research and management of these species will discuss their status and current conservation efforts.


Cuban Avian Diversity: Research and Conservation Challenges for Resident and Migrant Birds
Eduardo Inigo-Elias, Ariam Jimenez Reyes
Description to come.


Variation in Nestling Development Strategies, the Ignored Vital Rate
Devin de Zwaan, Robert Aldredge
Birds exhibit a tremendous amount of variation in growth, development time, and offspring size, and this variation occurs in spite of the fact that larger offspring experience greater post-fledging survival. In this symposium, we examine the extrinsic factors contributing to this developmental variation, and the diverse developmental response strategies that birds employ across different environments and spatial gradients. Overall, we will characterize the extent of variation in avian development patterns, examine the underlying mechanisms for this variation with consequences for avian life history patterns, and finally show how this information can be used for conservation planning, especially in light of increasing environmental variation.



Afternoon Symposia


Application of Climate Response Models to Bird Conservation in the Americas
Chad Wilsey, Gary Langham
Description to come.


Avian Influenza at the Interface of Wild Birds, Poultry, and Humans
Diann Prosser, John Takekawa
This symposium will focus on (1) background and global perspective on wild birds and avian influenza virus, (2) updates on the current HPAI situation within the United States, including routes of transmission (3) and recent research focusing on the role of wild birds as ecological hosts, the effect of AIV on wild birds and their ability to transport virus to new areas, and the role of environment in virus persistence.


Birds in Coupled Human and Natural Systems
Steven Beissinger, Kathy Martin
As most conservation problems typically intersect with human activities, incorporating people directly into the study system from multiple scientific perspectives may offer the best potential to produce meaningful conservation solutions. This approach has been characterized as coupled human and natural systems (CHANs), or social-ecological systems. This symposium highlights studies of birds as part of CHANs, and how this knowledge can contribute to avian conservation.


Current and Future Prospects on Avian De-extinction and Genetic Rescue
Jeff Johnson, Ben Novak
Genetic engineering or synthetic biology can be used for the purpose of wider conservation issues.  There is increasing interest for using genetic engineering as a tool for the conservation of endangered and threatened species for supplementing population genomic diversity, i.e., genetic rescue, including the potential for species de-extinction. Projects are already underway utilizing genomic and paleogenomic information for recovery decisions. This symposium will allow an opportunity to provide a series of talks focused on the use of genomic analyses and genetic engineering in conservation and de-extinction.


Cutting Trees to Save Birds: Integrating Science and Forest Management for Landscape-scale Bird Conservation
Ron Rohrbaugh, Jeff Larkin
Description to come.


Early Professionals Mini-Talk Symposium
Michael Butler, Emma Greig
Description to come.


Empowering Population-level Inference through Study of Avian Life Histories with Integrated Population Models
Mitch Weegman, Beth Ross
Description to come.


Full Annual Cycle Population Ecology
Brad Woodworth, Ryan Norris
Understanding the factors that regulate and limit both migratory and non-migratory bird populations requires an understanding of demographic and environmental mechanisms acting at all stages of the annual cycle. Although the importance of considering the full annual cycle has long been recognized, most research to date has focused on a single season. The objective of this symposium will be to establish the current state of and future plans for full annual cycle population ecology research through a series of talks encompassing a diversity of species, geographic locations, and life-histories.


Knowing your Shit: Comparing Traditional and Next-generation Methods for Understanding Bird Diets
Andreanna Welch, Luke Powell
A bird’s diet provides critical fuel for survival, reproduction, and migration, and has broader implications for our understanding of trophic interactions, competition, and demography. Ornithologists have worked for years to gain a better understanding of what birds are eating, and recent technological developments may be able to provide new insights. In this symposium we will compare and contrast the spectrum of techniques used to analyze bird diets, from traditional approaches employing visual gut content identification, to stable isotope analysis, and recently developed DNA metabarcoding approaches implementing next-generation sequencing of feces.


Metabolic Ecology
Andy Boyce, Maria Stager
Metabolism is a fundamental physiological process that underpins the ability of organisms to mobilize energy for critical functions such as reproduction, growth and thermoregulation. Participants in the metabolic ecology symposium will seek to address the ecological causes and consequences of variation in avian metabolic rates at levels ranging from intracellular processes to large interspecific comparisons across geographic gradients.


Macrosystems Ornithology — Scaling from Individuals to Ecosystems
Jeff Kelly, Benjamin Zuckerberg
Advances in Earth observation, citizen science, and animal-tracking technologies are revolutionizing our understanding of ecology at regional to continental spatial scales. This transition from a data-poor to a data rich era of ornithology presents new opportunities for understanding the lives of birds and their functional roles at these macroscales. This symposium will present a variety of approaches for investigating the impacts of global change through macroscale ornithology.


Mitonuclear Discordance, Barcode Gaps, and the Nature of Avian Species
Geoffrey Hill
Systematics is awash in new genomic data, but rather than clarifying species concepts and species boundaries, new genomic data present complex and confusing patterns that challenge current theories of speciation and the fundamental nature of an avian species. The goal of this symposium is to bring together researchers who are experts on molecular evolution in the context of speciation. By uniting diverse topics — mitonuclear discordance, DNA barcoding, mitonuclear coadaptation — under the umbrella of understanding speciation and the nature of avian species, we will stimulate new discussions and syntheses that have enormous bearing on core interests of AOU members.  


Separating Birds and Aircraft: Uniting Science and Conservation for Safer Skies
Richard Dolbeer
Bird collisions with aircraft (bird strikes) have become a serious aviation safety and economic issue with over 20,000 strikes reported for civil and military aviation in the USA in 2014. This symposium will provide an overview of the research and management efforts underway to mitigate this conflict and solicit input from the ornithological community regarding novel solutions based on avian physiology, sensory perception, behavior, and conservation biology.


Synthesizing Science to Inform Conservation of Songbird Migrants Around the Gulf of Mexico
Emily Cohen, Jeffrey Buler
Description to come.


What Do Long-term Studies Reveal About the Biology and Conservation Needs of Tropical Birds?
Jeff Brawn, John Faaborg
Limited knowledge about the biology of tropical species has serious implications for basic and applied issues.  Fortunately, there are several long-term studies that have been exceptionally helpful in advancing what we know about this diverse group. This symposium will, for the first time, gather researchers who are currently working in the context of long-term research in the Neotropics.  Invited speakers will provide examples of studies on the evolutionary ecology of focal species, population/community dynamics, and temporal trends in key demographic parameters. Each speaker will demonstrate why long-term data are especially informative for tropical birds, what these studies reveal, and why the need for such studies is increasing. 



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