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Kevin G. McCracken named inaugural Kushlan Chair in Waterbird Biology and Conservation at University of Miami
Evolutionary geneticist Kevin G. McCracken has been named the inaugural Kushlan Chair in Waterbird Biology and Conservation at the University of Miami.
McCracken, currently a professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, will serve a dual appointment as associate professor in the Department of Biology at the College of Arts and Sciences and in the Division of Marine Biology and Fisheries at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. He was selected via a months-long international search, and will be joining the UM faculty in January 2014.
McCracken has published more than 75 journal articles and has received grants from the National Science Foundation and Fulbright scholarships to study molecular mechanisms of hypoxia resistance in high-altitude waterbirds in the South American Andes. Hypoxia occurs when the body or a part of the body is deprived of oxygen supply, and it is the cause of “altitude sickness” in humans.
“Dr. McCracken’s appointment as the first Kushlan Chair in Waterbird Biology and Conservation marks a significant advancement in UM’s long-time leadership in ornithology and science in the tropics,” said Dean Leonidas G. Bachas of the College of Arts and Sciences. “His exemplary work on waterbirds complements our efforts in interdisciplinary science research.”
“The Kushlan Chair position provides a great opportunity for the Rosenstiel School to develop research and education programs in Waterbird Biology, an expertise the school lacked and is yet a very important aspect of the marine ecosystem,” said Dean Roni Avissar of the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. “We are excited that Dr. McCracken is joining our faculty.”
McCracken’s research interests lie at the intersection of population biology, genomics, and physiological genetics. He has also performed many other studies focusing on waterbirds as intercontinental carriers for pathogens like influenza and on the systematics of waterbirds including ducks and herons.
“I was drawn to the University of Miami by its reputation, proximity to my study sites in Latin America and history of tropical biology research in places like the Everglades, which abound with all kinds of different waterbird species,” McCracken said. “After fourteen years in the subarctic, my family and I are really looking forward to the adventure and geographical, cultural, and biological contrast of living in the subtropics in one of the worlds’ most dynamic and greatest cities.”
The Kushlan Chair in Waterbird Biology and Conservation was established in 2012 through a generous endowment from three-time University of Miami alumnus Dr. James A. Kushlan, during the University’s Momentum2 campaign. Dr. Kushlan is a writer, scientist, educator, and conservationist. He is recognized for his expertise in the biology and conservation of waterbirds and wetlands and in the strategic management of not-for-profit conservation and educational organizations. Dr. Kushlan serves as co-chair for the College of Arts and Sciences Momentum2 campaign and as member of the college’s visiting committee. He also serves on the boards of the Everglades Foundation, Zoo Miami Zoological Society of Florida, History Miami, and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.
TERNS, David Cabot and Ian Nisbet. 2013. HarperCollins, London. ISBN 978007412471 (Hardback, ₤55; about $83 US). ISBN 978007412488 (Paperback, ₤35; about $53 US). 461 pp., 6” x 9”, 184 color photographs, 57 color drawings, maps and charts, 30 tables. This book in the respected New Naturalist series is the first book on the natural history of terns to be published since 1934. It covers in detail the five tern species that breed in Britain and Ireland; three of these (Common, Roseate and Arctic Terns) also breed in North America and the other two (Little and Sandwich Terns) have close relatives here. There are also four chapters on terns of the world; single chapters on history, conservation, passage migrants and vagrants; appendices on demography and research; and a bibliography of more than 500 references. It is lavishly illustrated with color photographs, many of which depict key aspects of behavior.
Malcolm C. Coulter, 1947 – 2013. Malcolm was unassuming and worked in the background, so it was only after he passed, when his friends and colleagues began to compare notes, that we realized the many lives and projects he had touched and encouraged. Shortly before he died, he wrote: “It’s not what individuals can do but what we can all do together!”
Malcolm, a product of a comfortable Northern Virginia upbringing and New England boarding school, showed an early interest in animals, eventually focusing on birds. He went on to Stanford, took a master’s at Oxford, then did his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, studying Western Gulls on the Farallon Islands. While there he started a 40-year monitoring project on the islands’ vegetation, one of many such long-term projects unlikely to have a quick payoff but invaluable as the years went by. Healso spent time in Antarctica and Great Gull Island. The Darwin Station in Galapagos offered him a position to lead a conservation program for the Galapagos Petrel which was being threatened by introduced mammals. His budget was small and the logistics were challenging but he put together a team of both islanders and visitors that helped stem the decline of the species. He then went on to run a program at Savannah River National Lab in South Carolina, studying the endangered American Wood Stork. Again he put together a tightly knit team that worked under difficult field conditions that Malcolm characteristically never mentioned, but were the stuff of later stories by Birdville alumni. A growing interest in the conservation of storks and relatives led to him becoming co-chair of the Wetlands International/IUCN specialist group on storks, ibis and spoonbills. It was here that he came into his own. He moved to a small house in rural New Hampshire and used it as a base for visits to countries, particularly in Asia, with species that needed help.
Malcolm kept a very low profile. He mentored and financially sponsored young biologists and conservationists so they could build programs themselves. He would get flustered if he received attention for something, responding: “No, no that is really x’s work. I just gave some advice”. The specialist group grew to over 900 around the world. Like his Farallon plant work, his efforts were geared to the longer term and he seemed to have a great deal of patience as he watched programs grow or waited for them to germinate. His travels took him to interesting places, from the Amur River, to the Korean DMZ to small villages in Xian, China, even as his health began its slow decline. He worked with others in Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand, India and Africa. He helped Spoonbill Action Voluntary Echo (SAVE International), a multinational effort, bring the Black-faced Spoonbill back from the edge of extinction. Even when he couldn’t travel, he continued his long term participation in a range of committees, leading the Waterbird Society’s awards committee for years, and serving other groups such as the Pacific Seabird Group.
Ultimately, Malcolm’s life is best described as a 1,000 acts of kindness.
We are pleased to announce the Waterbird Society Student Presentation Award for 2012:
Sarah Trefry, University of New Brunswick
“Wing marker woes: a case study and meta-analysis of the impacts of wing and patagial tags”. Sarah’s PhD research is on frigatebirds.
Photo: Sarah Trefry with chick (photo by James Hudson)
We welcome you to join us in Wilhelmshaven in September 2013!
The Waterbird Society will hold its 37th annual meeting in 2013 in Germany for the first time. The Institute of Avian Research “Vogelwarte Helgoland”, one of the oldest ornithological research institutes in the world, will be the host. The meeting venue is the Stadthalle, located in the centre of Wilhelmshaven on the German North Sea coast.
Wilhelmshaven can be reached easily by train from the nearby airports: Bremen, Hamburg, Hannover, Frankfurt or Amsterdam. Wilhelmshaven is located adjacent to the World Heritage Site “Wadden Sea National Park of Lower Saxony”. There will be good opportunities to experience the rich biodiversity of the Wadden Sea, which provides critical habitat for both breeding and migrating waterbirds along the East-Atlantic Flyway.
The opening reception will be held on Tuesday evening 24 September, the closing banquet on 28 September. The three day scientific program will consist of plenaries, symposia, contributed papers and poster sessions. Saturday 28 September will be a joint scientific day with the International Wader Study Group (IWSG) annual conference (27 to 30 September). Mid-conference field trips will be offered on Friday 27 September. Exhibitors, including book and equipment suppliers, will be present during the meeting.
Please check www.waterbirds.org for updated information.
The 37 th annual meeting of The Waterbird Society is organized by the Institute of Avian Research, Wilhelmshaven, and The Waterbird Society
Prof. Dr. Peter H. Becker Institut fuer Vogelforschung “Vogelwarte Helgoland” An der Vogelwarte 21, D-26386 Wilhelmshaven, Germany NEW email email@example.com Homepage www.vogelwarte-helgoland.de
Call for Abstracts for Oral and Poster Papers – 5th North American Ornithological Conference, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, 14-18 August 2012
On 20 January 2012, the NAOC web site began receiving Abstracts for oral papers and posters, and invited symposium papers.
The limit is approximately 250 words for all abstracts, excluding the title and author names and affiliations. Students applying for awards should pay careful attention to special abstract requirements by following the links to student awards.
To submit an abstract, go to http://www.naoc-v2012.com/abstract-submission, follow the instructions and consult the on-line “how to” guide.
The deadline for receipt of Abstracts for all oral and poster papers is 29 February 2012. Abstract acceptances will be sent by 30 April 2012.
The program will include several Workshops, to be scheduled before and after the conference. http://www.naoc-v2012.com/program
Welcome to our new President, Katharine Parsons!
The thirty-fifth annual meeting of the Waterbird Society was held 9-12 November 2011 at the Doubletree Hotel in Annapolis, Maryland. This was actually the second Waterbird Society meeting in calendar year 2011; the March 2011 meeting in Nebraska, held jointly with the North American Crane Working Group, was the society’s thirty-fourth annual meeting.
Ellen Paul, Melanie Steinkamp, and Any Bernick constituted the local committee. At the meeting, Will Mackin and Dave Brinker assisted with logistics and AV management
On Thursday 10 November, James A. Kushlan, past-president of the Waterbird Society and recipient of the Waterbird Society’s Kai Curry Lindahl International Conservation Award, recounted from his personal perspective 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 discussed 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 and his view of the future of colonial waterbird conservation in North America through hemispheric planning for local conservation action.
On Friday, 11 November, Ted Simons, Professor and Assistant Unit Leader in the US Geological Survey Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Biology, NC State University, highlighted 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.
Three symposia were presented:
- The USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center–contributions to waterbird science and conservation (eight talks honoring the 75th anniversary of PWRC).
- Reddish Egret Conservation (eight talks by researchers and land managers who are currently engaged in ongoing reddish egret research and conservation projects)
- The BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill and waterbird conservation (seven talks on the first pre-spill assessments of the earliest patterns of injuries detected to various waterbird species and guilds found in the Gulf of Mexico)
Two special sessions were presented:
- American Oystercatcher Conservation Science (seven talks)
- Migration and Wintering areas of Arctic- and Temperate-nesting Waterbirds (six talks)
Papers presented in symposia: 23
Papers presented in special sessions: 13
Papers presented in general sessions: 42
Posters presented: 30
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.
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.
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.
The USFWS Migratory Bird Program is inviting input on its proposal to advance marshbird monitoring; specifically feedback on a series of questions which will then inform a summit meeting late in the year. We are very interested in coordinating with Partners in Flight, especially in light of your unique capacity and key role in avian monitoring and data management.
Please take time to review this document and provide feedback to me no later than September 30, 2011. I will be sure to provide information and updates following that as they become available.
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Katie Koch, Midwest Bird Monitoring Coordinator
Midwest Coordinated Bird Monitoring Partnership
Information about the meeting will be posted at the website of the Waterbird Society (http://www.waterbirds.org/annual_meeting).
*THE THIRTY-FIFTH ANNUAL MEETING OF THE WATERBIRD SOCIETY will be held in Annapolis, Maryland, from 10 Nov – 12 Nov 2011. This meeting will constitute the annual meeting for the 2011 calendar year, and will include presentations of research papers, symposia, workshops, social events and area field trips. The meeting venue is a charming city founded in 1649 and home to the U.S. Naval Academy. Annapolis is a walking city with historical buildings, and waterfront dining and recreation. Chesapeake Bay and nearshore waters offer a variety of field trip options for birding and to view research and restoration sites. Members and prospective attendees are invited to participate in the development of the scientific program by submitting proposals to organize symposia, sessions and workshops. Potential topics include but are not limited to: 1) conservation science of beach-nesting shorebirds, 2) first-year update of impacts of Deepwater Horizon oil spill on waterbirds, 3) assessing abundance and demographics of secretive marshbirds, 4) coordinated monitoring of colonially-nesting waterbirds, 5) restoration of wetland habitats in Chesapeake Bay, 6) transboundary management and conservation issues of seabirds, 7) new developments in tracking technology. Proposals should include 1-2 paragraph summary including rationale, and list of proposed speakers and presentation titles, and should be sent to the Scientific Program Chair by 1 July 2011. Deadline for submitting abstracts for paper sessions and posters is 1 September 2011. Submit an abstract and/or register. Information about the meeting will be posted at the website of the Waterbird Society (http://www.waterbirds.org/annual_meeting). Contacts for the meeting are: ELLEN PAUL, Local Committee Co-Chair firstname.lastname@example.org, Melanie Steinkamp, Local Committee Co-Chair Melanie_Steinkamp@fws.gov, and KATHARINE PARSONS, Scientific Program Chair email@example.com).
Plenary: Monday, March 14, 2011
Climate change and prairie wetlands: implications for migratory birds
The rapid rates of climate change in concert with land use conversion pose unprecedented challenges to wetland and avian conservation across the North American prairies. Although wetland-dependent bird populations have persisted through millennia of both climate stasis and extreme variability throughout their evolutionary history, their future is uncertain. I will explore paleoclimates, external and anthropogenic causes of climate change, approaches to projecting the effects of climate change on species and habitats, and the associated uncertainties. I will briefly discuss current interdisciplinary work that addresses the links between climate, ecosystem processes, wetland management, and waterbird communities in North American prairie wetland systems. This effort is downscaling climate data using dynamical approaches and developing derivative models that forecast climate effects on palustrine wetland landscapes, riverine systems, and their associated bird communities.
Dr. Susan K. Skagen is a research wildlife biologist with the US Geological Survey Fort Collins Science Center where she has conducted research in support of migratory bird conservation for nearly 23 years. Her recent work has focused primarily on shorebirds migrating across midcontinental North America, landbirds migrating across the arid southwest, and population demography of shortgrass prairie birds. Her current work examines these systems within the context of climate change.
Plenary: Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Gary Krapu began studying spring staging ecology of sandhill cranes in the Central Platte River Valley (CPRV) of south-central Nebraska in 1977 while project leader for the Platte River Ecology Study. The Platte River Ecology Study Special Research Report and other publications resulting from his research in the 1970s have been a key source of information used by wildlife managers when addressing sandhill crane habitat needs over the past 30 years. From the early to mid-1990s, Dr. Krapu observed changes from the 1970s in diurnal movements of cranes while in the CPRV and in their condition based on measurements taken on storm-killed cranes. He suspected environmental changes may be underway in the CPRV that could have adverse consequences to the Mid-continent Population (MCP). Drawing on his observations and other identified research needs, Dr. Krapu initiated research through the USGS Priority Ecosystem Studies program to assess the current capacity of the CPRV to meet crane needs. Taking advantage of emerging technologies, he and co-worker Dave Brandt expanded this research effort to address key information needs of crane managers in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Russia. Dr. Krapu will begin by describing the geographic distribution and movements of 4 subpopulations of MCP cranes throughout the annual cycle based on information obtained from individuals tagged with PTTs in the CPRV and North Platte River Valley in early spring. Following this introduction, he will address key research findings from recent sandhill crane studies in the CPRV with a focus primarily on results with important implications to sandhill crane management.