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Waterbird Society Plenary Speakers

Chris Custer

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James A. Kushlan is a writer, scientist, educator, and conservationist. His research and conservation work focuses on waterbirds, seabirds, and wetlands. He has written over 200 papers and several books including Herons Handbook (1984), The Freshwater Fishes of Southern Florida (1987), Storks, Ibises and Spoonbills of the World (1993), Heron Conservation (2000), The Herons (2005), Waterbird Conservation for the Americas (2005), and Conserving Herons (2007). Dr. Kushlan has held positions as research biologist for the National Park Service, professor of biology and director Center for Water Resources Texas A&M University (Commerce), professor and chair of biology University of Mississippi, director Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, senior science advisor US Geological Survey, and research associate Smithsonian Institution. He has served as president of the American Ornithologists’ Union and the Waterbird Society, editor of Waterbirds and Florida Field Naturalist. He is the founder and current council member of Waterbird Conservation for the Americas, president of the Bahamas Environment Fund, co-founder and chair of the IUCN Heron Specialist Group, and serves on the boards of the Everglades Foundation, Friends of the Everglades, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, History-Miami, American Ornithologists’ Union, John Cabot University (emeritus), and Biscayne Nature Center. His accomplishments have been recognized by the Waterbird Society’s Kai Curry Lindahl International Conservation Award, as a Fellow of the American Ornithologists’ Union, as a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International, by a Distinguished Faculty Award at Texas A&M – Commerce, and honorary honorary doctor of science degrees by John Cabot University and by Thiel College.
Plenary Description
Dr Kushlan will investigate, from his personal perspective, threads of the story of colonial waterbird conservation in North America over the past 40 years, often noting the roles played by Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. He will discuss the development of some of the major academic and conservation themes in colonial waterbird conservation – inventory and monitoring, populations, behavior and ecology, and conservation action revealing the stories behind the stories as to how we got where we are today. There has been a remarkable amount of success and some disappointments along the way. But the future of colonial waterbird conservation in North America seems clear- hemispheric planning for local conservation action.

Ted Simons is a Professor and Assistant Unit Leader in the US Geological Survey Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Biology, NC State University. He earned his BS at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and his M.S. and Ph.D. at the University of Washington, Seattle. He served as a research biologist with the National Park Service and the Director of the NPS Cooperative Park Studies at the University of Virginia before coming to NCSU in 1993. His research strives to improve species conservation and monitoring programs, and the management of protected areas through a better understanding of wildlife habitat relationships and sampling methods. Central to that research has been the application of ecological principles to the conservation of rare, endangered, or declining species and their habitats. Recent research has been directed toward the conservation of Neotropical migratory landbirds, including studies of the stopover ecology of birds during migration and breeding birds in southern Appalachian forests, and the conservation of marine birds, including the endangered Hawaiian Petrel, Black‐capped Petrels in the Dominican Republic, and American Oystercatchers on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Research is focused in three broad areas: (1) understanding the ecological factors that constrain species diversity and abundance, (2) modeling wildlife habitat relationships at the population and landscape level, and (3) improving wildlife population sampling methods.[/font]

Plenary Description
Haematopology – collaborative focal species research and management in waterbird conservation.
In this presentation I will highlight the collaborative achievements of the American Oystercatcher Working Group over the past 10 years including; the establishment of range-wide surveys, color-banding protocols, mark-resight studies, a revision of the Birds of North America species account, and new mechanisms for sharing information and data. Collaborations among state, federal, and private sector scientists, natural resource managers, and dedicated volunteers have provided insights into the biology and conservation of oystercatchers in the U.S. and abroad that would not have been possible without the relationships formed through the working group. I will argue that broad collaborative approaches and the engagement of the public are key elements of effective species conservation programs.

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