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  1. The American Ornithological Society is among 59 organizations to sign a letter from the American Institute of Biological Sciences to President-elect Trump, exhorting him to prioritize scientific research and education. The text of the letter is below. December 22, 2016 Dear President-elect Trump: As leading scientific organizations in the biological sciences, we write to encourage you to make scientific research and education a priority during your administration. Part of what makes America great is our capacity to generate new knowledge and ideas that spur innovation and drive the development of new economic opportunities for all Americans. We respectfully request that you take swift action to: Make scientific research a budget priority Appoint a Presidential Science Advisor with strong scientific credentials Direct your administration to use peer-reviewed scientific information to inform decisions Biology is the science of life. Every day, discoveries arising from biological research contribute to improved human health and economic security. Biology is a foundational science from which we build new antibiotic and antiviral medications, translate findings from genetics laboratories into the development of more drought tolerant food crops, and develop new materials inspired by biological compounds and structures. Biological diversity surveys, for example, provide us with the information we need to identify and model diseases, such as Ebola and Zika, which can jump from wild animal populations to humans. Insights derived from our investigations into the human microbial biome are improving our understanding of various health conditions and diseases, such as food allergies, Crohn’s and Inflammatory Bowel Disease, among many others. Biological research enables us to make more informed decisions about natural resource management and stewardship. When we understand how ecological systems function, we can prevent and better mitigate disruptions to important environmental processes that provide us with clean air and water. Research is an important engine that powers our economy. Over the past 50 years, roughly half of our nation’s private sector economic growth has resulted from research and development. One analysis of the return on the federal government’s $12 billion investment in the Human Genome Project found that it generated an estimated $800 billion in economic return. Other economic analyses of investments in agricultural research have estimated a $10 return on every $1 the federal government invests. These are just some examples and others may be found in a recent report from the American Institute of Biological Sciences (see https://www.aibs.org/public-policy/resources/AIBS_Biological_Innovation_Report.pdf). In short, taxpayer support of scientific research pays dividends. The federal government provides more than half of the funding for basic research in the United States. Indeed, industry counts on the federal government to support fundamental discovery so that the private sector may target its resources to new product development. For example, 80,000 patents awarded over a 10-year period were based on research initially funded by the federal government’s National Science Foundation. Although the United States has long been a global leader in science, our leadership is waning. Foreign countries are allocating growing shares of their Gross Domestic Product to research and development. New investments in federal research agencies must be a priority if we are to be a global power. Science is a rapidly advancing field that builds on itself. One scientific discipline borrows from another. Thus, it is important that federal agencies coordinate and strategically leverage their research portfolios. One of the ways in which the federal government coordinates its scientific priorities is through the President’s Science Advisor and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. A strong and respected science advisor can provide the honest and timely analysis you will require to make informed decisions on threats to public health, national security, and environmental incidents that can threaten the well-being of people for years into the future. The Office of Science and Technology Policy can also help to ensure that federal research programs are responding to the needs of the scientific community and the nation. We encourage you to work with the National Academies of Science and professional scientific associations such as the undersigned to identify a highly qualified individual who can provide you with the highest caliber scientific advice and counsel. Science has not been, nor do we think it should be, a partisan issue. Rather, it is a public benefit. We request that upon taking office you provide clear and immediate guidance through the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Science and Technology Policy to all federal department and agency heads directing them to seek and use peer-reviewed scientific information as the basis for decision-making. Many federal programs have established scientific advisory boards and committees. These panels should be filled and staffed by qualified scientists. To do otherwise will call into question the credibility of any government actions taken on matters of health, security, or environmental stewardship. We stand ready to work with you, your transition team, and your administration to move forward programs and policy that advance science for the benefit of the nation. Please contact Dr. Robert Gropp at rgropp@aibs.org or 202-628-1500 x 250 if we can provide any assistance to you and your administration. Sincerely, American Arachnological Society American Institute of Biological Sciences American Society of Agronomy American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists American Society of Mammalogists American Society of Naturalists American Society of Parasitologists American Society of Primatologists American Malacological Society American Ornithological Society Animal Behavior Society Annis Water Resources Institute, Grand Valley State University Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation Association of Southeastern Biologists Belle W. Baruch Institute for Marine and Coastal Science, University of South Carolina Berkeley Natural History Museums BioQUEST Botanical Society of America Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation Crop Science Society of America Delaware Museum of Natural History Entomological Society of America Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology Hatfield Marine Science Center iDigBio International Association for Bear Research and Management Kewalo Marine Laboratory, University of Hawaii at Manoa Moss Landing Marine Laboratories National Association of Biology Teachers National Association of Marine Laboratories National Tropical Botanical Garden NC State University/Center for Marine Sciences & Technology Oregon State University Herbarium Organization of Biological Field Stations Paleontological Society Phycological Society of America Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History Society for Conservation Biology North America Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Society for Mathematical Biology Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles Society for the Study of Evolution Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Society of Systematic Biologists Soil Science Society of America Southwestern Association of Naturalists State University of New York University of California Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Sciences University of Wisconsin – Madison, Department of Botany Great Lakes Research Center of Michigan Technological University Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution at Florida Atlantic University Helminthological Society of Washington Herpetologists’ League Human Anatomy and Physiology Society College of Environmental Science and Forestry The Field Museum of Natural History US Regional Association of the International Association of Landscape Ecology Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience, University of Florida Wisconsin State Herbarium [See original post at AOS News.]
  2. New Organization Dedicated to the Study and Conservation of Birds in the Americas CHICAGO, IL (December 19, 2016) – Two of the oldest and most influential professional ornithological societies in the world have legally merged, forming the American Ornithological Society (AOS), an organization devoted to advancing research focused on birds in the Western Hemisphere, promoting their conservation, and training the next generation of scientists. Nearly 3,000 members of the American Ornithologists’ Union and the Cooper Ornithological Society approved the merger earlier this year in association with the North American Ornithological Conference held in Washington D.C. Under the leadership of executive director Melinda Pruett-Jones, AOS is based in Chicago at the Field Museum of Natural History. For more information on the new AOS and the merger process, visit www.americanornithology.org. “Over the past six years we have actively collaborated as separate organizations: meeting together, publishing our journals jointly and working together to benefit the conservation of birds. After fact-finding and due diligence, and in response to the tremendous positive feedback from our membership, I am proud to announce a single merged society that will advance ornithology by combining our assets – human, financial and intellectual,” said AOS president Steven Beissinger. The largest ornithological society in the Western Hemisphere, AOS produces scientific publications of the highest quality, hosts intellectually engaging and professionally vital meetings, serves ornithologists at every career stage, pursues a global perspective, and informs public policy on all issues important to ornithology and ornithological collections. AOS assets now exceed $10 million in support of ornithology, and it will invest nearly $1 million to advance its mission in its first year as a merged society. The new organization is undertaking new initiatives to help students, early professionals and international members and to address the needs of scientists, academics and conservation professionals in advancing knowledge, not only in the Western Hemisphere but across the globe. AOS also recently launched a program to encourage members to reach out to their local communities and showcase ornithology as a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) field students might not have considered. “The society is redoubling past efforts to prepare future generations of scientists and conservation leaders. Success requires a multi-dimensional approach that integrates science, new technologies, public policy and citizen outreach; works with other ornithological and scientific communities; and collaborates with local, state, federal and international government entities,” said former American Ornithologists’ Union president Susan Haig, who began the merging effort in 2010. “AOS is distinguished by its tremendous collective expertise, eminent scientists, conservation practitioners, early career innovators, and students. The society will especially focus on attracting diversity in the profession,” said former Cooper Ornithological Society president Martin Raphael. The first meeting of the new AOS will be held July 31 to August 5, 2017 on the campus of Michigan State University. Contact: Melinda Pruett-Jones American Ornithological Society, Executive Director Email: mpruettjones@gmail.com Mobile: 312-420-2292 The American Ornithological Society (AOS) is an international society devoted to advancing the scientific understanding of birds, enriching ornithology as a profession, and promoting a rigorous scientific basis for bird conservation. AOS publishes two international journals—The Auk: Ornithological Advances, which has one of the highest scientific impact rankings among ornithological journals worldwide, and The Condor: Ornithological Applications—as well as the book series Studies in Avian Biology. AOS also sponsors Birds of North America in partnership with the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. The society’s checklists serve as the accepted authority for scientific nomenclature and English names of birds in the Americas. For more information, visit www.americanornithology.org. [see original post on AOS News.]
  3. AOU and COS are merging, forming the new American Ornithological Society (AOS) to serve ornithologists and advance ornithology in the 21st century. To go with our new name, we are developing a new image to reflect who we are and what we are about—and we would love to have input from the ornithology community. How do you think our new logo should look? We invite you to submit original AOS logo designs or concepts, whether they are polished graphics files or hand-drawn sketches. The winning design will receive a $500 prize. Deadline: Saturday, 15 October, at midnight EASTERN Submission: Please email your entry to Dr. Mark Hauber at markehauber@gmail.com Please submit an electronic file in jpg, png, gif, ai, or indd file format Submissions must include your name and email address Please include a short description of how the design represents AOS Guidelines: We are looking for a logo or logo concept that captures the essence of AOS as a new organization. Entries will be judged for the style, creativity, and impact of a design that can be used in the web, email, and print materials of AOS. Entries may optionally include the name American Ornithological Society and tagline Advancing Scientific Knowledge and Conservation of Birds. More about AOS: The mission of AOS will not depart from the complementary missions of AOU and COS: to advance the scientific understanding of birds and disseminate ornithological knowledge, to enrich ornithology as a profession and mentor young professionals, and to promote a rigorous scientific basis for the conservation of birds. AOS’s vision is to provide an inclusive and stimulating professional home for ornithologists that supports members at every career stage, from students through retirement; to produce scientific publications of the highest quality and make them available to the widest audiences possible; to host intellectually engaging and professionally vital meetings; to pursue a global perspective; and to inform public policy on all issues important to ornithology and ornithological collections. AOS’s long range goals are to: Sustain Scientific Impact Through Financial Support for Ornithological Research Publish the Highest Quality and Openly Accessible Ornithological Research Pursue Excellence in Organizing and Hosting Annual Conferences that Meet the Ever-Changing Needs of Ornithology and Ornithologists Excel In Professional Development for Members at All Stages of Their Careers Recognize and Promote Significant accomplishments in Ornithology Create and Connect a Vibrant Community of Ornithologists Throughout the Americas Individuals serving on the panel of appointed judges are not eligible to submit entries. The contest winner must relinquish all rights to the design to AOS, which will be the sole owner of rights to the design. AOS may employ a graphic designer to finalize the winning design submission into an official logo. Decisions of the judges will be final. Original post: https://amornithnews.com/2016/10/06/logo-contest-new-look-for-merged-society/
  4. COS members have spoken and have overwhelmingly approved the merger with AOU, with upwards of 85 percent in favor. More than 700 members cast ballots, exceeding 55 percent of COS membership. The final step in the decision process will be a vote by AOU Fellows on August 16. Learn more here! [see this post at American Ornithology News.] Brown Pelican by Paul J. Marto, Jr. Marto Photography
  5. Calling all members of the Cooper Ornithological Society: please vote now regarding the proposed merger with the American Ornithologists’ Union! We need to hear from you. Deadline: August 2. Burrowing Owls by travelwayoflife, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons See this post at American Ornithology News.
  6. Members of the Cooper Ornithological Society are voting on the proposed merger with the American Ornithologists’ Union (deadline: August 2). Learn more here: http://americanornithology.org/content/aou-and-cos-merger-status
  7. What has the American Ornithology community been tweeting about all week? Find out in The @AmOrnith Review. See this post at American Ornithology News (and subscribe to stay in the loop!).
  8. From Jim Reynolds, University of Birmingham: I am starting a research project which involves calling upon the world’s ornithologists to send me records about a rather ‘rare’ condition in birds: sublingual oral fistulas (in which the skin and muscle of the lower mandible are missing; the tongue protrudes through the opening and is often outside the mouth cavity permanently). Sublingual oral fistulas were first documented in Stitchbirds (hihi) in New Zealand and since then we have found it in two species of seabirds in the South Atlantic – the Sooty Tern and the Masked Booby. My research project attempts to document the species in which it occurs, identify the cause(s) and describe the progression of the condition. Therefore, I am particularly interested in hearing from three groups of people who have close encounters with birds – wildlife photographers, field veterinary researchers and ringers, but also more broadly from anyone who has encountered the condition in birds. The essence of the project is captured in the following webpage which can be found at www.birmingham.ac.uk/oral-fistula where both an Information Sheet and a downloadable Reporting Form can be found. The latter can be completed and returned to me by e-mail (J.Reynolds.2@bham.ac.uk). I launched the call for reports of the condition about a month ago to heads of various national ringing schemes around the world, to wildlife veterinary groups, to wildlife photographers etc. and at the time of writing I have received 28 completed report forms that describe the condition in 10 different species. However, I know that this is potentially only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ and I would really appreciate it if you could pour over your field notebooks and get in contact if this triggers any memories of birds with the condition. I am hoping that posting this call will result in others becoming aware of my research project. I am interested in receiving detailed records of birds with the condition including any high resolution photographs that you might be able to provide to accompany a completed form. You would of course be contacted to seek permission before any such photograph was used in a research output and any such photo would be accompanied by a photo credit. I am looking forward to hearing from you. All the best, Jim ********************************************************************** S. James Reynolds BSc MScF DPhil, Centre for Ornithology, School of Biosciences, College of Life & Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK Tel. 0121-414-3639 Fax. 0121-414-5925 Webpages: http://www.biosciences.bham.ac.uk/About/staff_profiles_Contact.htm?ID=78 http://www.ornithology.bham.ac.uk/staff/academicstaff/jimreynolds.shtml Oral fistula project: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/oral-fistula New OUP Book: Nests, Eggs, and Incubation: New ideas about avian reproduction
  9. What has the American Ornithology community been tweeting about all week? Find out by visiting The @AmOrnith Review (and subscribe for a weekly update!). See this post on American Ornithology News.
  10. Teachers, check out our compilation of educational resources for ornithology, featuring an array of teaching materials and photo collections (plus a pretty cool feather identification website). [See this post on American Ornithology News.] Public Domain via Pixabay
  11. Subscribe to American Ornithology News to stay up to date on news, events, conversations, resources, and opportunities from AOU and COS. American Robins by John James Audubon (detail), Public Domain
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