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Symposia and Special Sessions Announced for November Meeting

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Symposium The USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center–contributions to waterbird science and conservation


Beginning in 1936, with the establishment of the unique Patuxent Wildlife Research Refuge, and later the Center (PWRC), Patuxent scientists have had a long interest and dedication to understanding the biology of waterbirds.  Although the emphasis and programs have evolved over the decades, one of the major consistent themes at Patuxent has focused on understanding the life-histories and factors that drive the population dynamics of a number of species ranging from captive black ducks to endangered whooping cranes to mallards to Chesapeake Bay ospreys and seaducks to nesting terns and shorebirds.  Approaches have included single-species studies at one location to international projects involving many scientists across several national boundaries. Methods have evolved over the years from collecting basic natural history information (e.g. behavioral repertoires, diet) to development of waterfowl banding analysis, to continually refining chemical analytical techniques for contaminant studies, to applications of telemetry (now using satellite packages), to sophisticated statistical models for estimating populations, survival, and dispersal dynamics.  As part of the Waterbird Society’s annual meeting in November 2011 in Annapolis, Maryland, a special symposium is being proposed, in part to commemorate the 75th anniversary of PWRC.  A series of talks is being planned that will include Patuxent scientists, both present and past.  The talks will encompass the history of the Center, and focused papers on waterfowl, contaminants, colonial waterbird ecology, avian diseases, and related topics.  The presentations will review some of the major advances in the field that PWRC scientists helped to promote and will point to where future efforts should be directed to take us to the next levels. Symposium organizer: Mike Erwin (rme5g@virginia.edu).




Symposium The BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill and waterbird conservation: first looks


The BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill was the largest ever accidental marine oil spill. With a total volume of 4.9 million barrels of oil plus 1.84 million gallons of dispersants, contamination stretched across a vertical extent of 5,000 feet from sea floor to ocean surface in the eastern and central Gulf of Mexico. Over the nearly three months of active spillage, surface contamination was approximately equivalent to the size of Oklahoma in cumulative area. Pelagic, open water, coastal, estuarine, and tidal habitats for waterbirds were all affected. Direct impacts extended to five states and 950 miles of shoreline, including salt marshes, sandy beaches, mudflats and mangroves. This symposium will feature the earliest patterns of injuries detected to various waterbird species and guilds found in the Gulf of Mexico, using only data and analyses in the public domain that are not precluded from full disclosure by the ongoing Natural Resource Damage Assessment.  Symposium organizer: Chris Haney (chaney@defenders.org).




Symposium Reddish Egret Conservation


The Reddish Egret Working Group (a multi-organization partnership dedicated to advancing reddish egret conservation) proposes to hold a Reddish Egret Conservation Symposium to be held during the upcoming 2011 Waterbird Society meeting in Annapolis, MD.  This symposium will be comprised of various presentations from researchers and land managers who are currently engaged in ongoing reddish egret research and conservation projects. Beginning in 2005, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) adopted a strategy to provide a process for better measuring its success in achieving bird conservation priorities.  The purpose of this ”Focal Species Strategy” was to provide explicit, strategic, and adaptive sets of conservation actions necessary for returning species of concern to healthy and sustainable population levels.  The reddish egret is on this list of species, and the USFWS has funded many of these studies as part of this strategy.  The Working Group first met in October 2005 to discuss the status of reddish egret populations in Texas, Mexico, and Florida.  From there, it was decided a status assessment was necessary as the majority of information was at least a decade old (Paul 1991).  The Status Assessment was completed in 2006 (Green 2006) and formed the basis for the guidance from the working group, the development of the conservation plan continues.  The proposed symposium offers an opportunity to continue to move forward with range-wide conservation and to synthesize our work to achieve coordinated and cooperative conservation actions directed at insuring reddish egret sustainability.  Symposium organizer: Troy Wilson (Troy_Wilson@fws.gov).




Special Session Migration and Wintering areas of Arctic- and Temperate-nesting Waterbirds


With the advent of satellite telemetry, geolocators and even the greater use of field-readable bands and markers, it is now readily possible to show migration routes, stopover locations and specific wintering areas for regional populations of Arctic- and Temperate-nesting waterbirds. For some species, such data were not available even 10-20 years ago for the BNA accounts. These kinds of information are useful in assessing the annual cycle of Species at Risk (e.g. Piping Plovers, Whimbrels), in the management of abundant species (e.g. Double-crested Cormorants, Ring-billed Gulls) and in identifying turnover rates and population sizes at Important Bird Areas (Bonaparte’s Gulls, Red Knots, Western Sandpipers). In this session, researchers with these kinds of data are invited to share their findings with Waterbird Society members. Session organizer: Chip Weseloh (chip.weseloh@ec.gc.ca).




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