Photo: Sedge Wren, A. Koziol
Wed, 14 Aug
The assembly of the North American avifauna
Recent data from new fossils and systematic analyses of extant lineages, as well as new approaches to dating of diversification events, have offered significant insight into the deep history of avian diversity in North America. However, there has been comparatively little synthesis of, or interdisciplinary dialogue about, the data from these disparate analyses. These data offer the potential to gain broader insight into potential causal factors in the assembly of the extant avifauna. Understanding shifts in avian diversity and distributions over the past 65 million years may be essential to understanding the impact of current climate change.
Conveners J. Clarke and B. Winger (full day)
The science of wild bird feeding
Over 53 million Americans over the age of 16 feed wild birds or other wildlife around their homes. Despite its popularity, fundamental questions about the impact of bird feeding remain. Moreover, the use of supplemental food spans a large number of disciplines from ecology to physiology to conservation biology. In this symposium, we will provide an overview of current studies that examine the impact of supplemental feeding on songbirds and the range of studies that can be performed using supplemental food as a tool.
Conveners D. Horn and T. Wilcoxen (morning)
North American Breeding Bird Survey research
The North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) is used extensively for research into factors influencing bird populations at scales that range from local to continental. However, most studies are done in isolation. Many investigators are not aware of similar research efforts; presentations that use BBS data are often scattered among multiple sessions at scientific meetings, making it difficult for researchers to identify and interact with potential collaborators. A clear need exists to increase communication among BBS investigators and share research methods and results. In this symposium, we address this need by highlighting several themes of ongoing BBS research and sharing perspectives on present and future research directions.
Conveners J. R. Sauer, K. L. Pardieck, M.-A. Hudson, and A. C. Smith (afternoon)
Thu, 15 Aug
Golden-winged Warbler conservation and management
The Golden-winged Warbler Working Group and others have conducted extensive research over the past decade on this species of high conservation concern. We (the organizers) are editing a volume of Studies in Avian Biology summarizing the current status of knowledge and plans for conservation and management of the Golden-winged Warbler. We propose this symposium as an opportunity for authors to receive feedback from each other and from the broader ornithological community before finalizing chapters for publication.
Conveners H. M. Streby, D. A. Buehler, and D. E. Andersen (full day)
Physiological and functional advances in avian coloration
The study of avian coloration provides an elegant junction for both proximate and ultimate investigations, and thus appeals to a broad array of ornithologists. By attending this symposium, researchers interested in biochemistry, endocrinology, and nutrient physiology will be able to learn about the proximate mechanisms that underlie the production of colorful patches, while those who study interspecific aggression, mate choice, and population ecology will gain insight into the ultimate consequences of avian coloration. This topic also caters to those studies that bridge proximate and ultimate levels of analysis, particularly in the rapidly expanding fields of ecoimmunology and nutrient ecology. Thus, those who attend this symposium will not only learn what the most recent advances are in their particular fields, but will also benefit by learning more about the driving mechanisms or ecological contexts for their own studies, potentially fostering innovative research collaborations.
Convener M. Butler (morning)
Avian diversification in the Old World tropics
Despite its rich diversity and vast geographic coverage, paleotropical biogeography has not been adequately highlighted in past AOU meetings. Research on Old World birds is rapidly growing and recent studies have uncovered interesting biogeographic patterns across the paleotropics. In an effort to encourage synthetic discussions and promote additional research, we propose a symposium to bring together many key scientists whose research focuses on broad patterns of bird diversification in this region. We will feature talks on each of the major landmasses (i.e., Africa, Asia, Madagascar) and emphasize discussions of continent-wide or inter-continental patterns of diversification.
Conveners S. Reddy and B. Marks (afternoon)
Fri, 16 Aug
Avian Parasites: Models for understanding processes and patterns of diversification
Parasites are important elements in the lives of birds and can impact their health, demography, behavior, and evolutionary history. Parasites themselves are also intriguing because they are ubiquitous, understudied, and at the same time are excellent models for understanding the patterns and processes of diversification and speciation. This symposium includes researchers studying a broad array of topics focused on the ecology and evolution of a variety of avian parasites. Talks will include studies using experimental and comparative approaches to study the evolutionary ecology of parasites, phylogenetic comparative approaches to studying the evolutionary history of host-parasite associations, and ecological approaches to studying avian parasites and their effects on hosts.
Conveners J. Weckstein, S. Bush, and K. Johnson (full day)
Cowbird brood parasitism: a uniquely New World phenomenon
Like their disparate members of the unique group of obligate avian brood parasites, ranging across much of the Earth, most of the American cowbird species possess some truly amazing attributes to accomplish their parasitic goal while, at other times, their strategies may seem less adapted. Studied by many, fascinated by scientific and lay people alike, even despised by some, however you regard the parasitic cowbirds you can be assured that they remain one of the most studied species around. During the 2013 AOU-Cooper Ornithological Society meetings, our 'Cowbird Brood Parasitism' Symposium aims to bring researchers in the field together to share their ideas and insight into this remarkable group of birds.
Convener B. Strausberger and M. E. Hauber (morning)
Ecology and conservation of insectivores of the tropical rainforest understory
Deforestation, fragmentation, and habitat degradation are rapidly reducing the quantity and quality of the Earth’s remaining tropical rainforests. Ornithologists have studied the effects of tropical deforestation/degradation for more than 30 years; finally, a pattern is emerging: avian understory insectivores appear to be particularly sensitive. Understory insectivores are generally common, diverse and too small to hunt, making them particularly useful indicators of rainforest health and productivity. Currently there is no coordinated effort to study this subject, nor is there any consensus on the mechanisms driving understory insectivores’ sensitivity to disturbance; thus, there exists a great need for ornithologists to unite in their efforts. This symposium seeks to gather ornithologists working across the earth’s tropical rainforests in order to: 1) identify the species/guilds/morphologies that are most vulnerable to fragmentation/deforestation/degradation, 2) address potential mechanisms behind those vulnerabilities and finally, 3) coordinate efforts to test hypotheses on the mechanisms behind those vulnerabilities.
Convener L. L. Powell (afternoon)
Sat, 17 Aug
The extended specimen: emerging frontiers in collections-based ornithological research
Biological collections have long been the backbone of basic research in ornithology, providing the raw material for studies uncovering the diversity, distribution, abundance, evolution, and life histories of birds. Yet recent new developments are making our research collections even more versatile and useful. First, emerging new technologies in genetics, chemistry, and computer imaging now make it possible for researchers to use “traditional” museum specimens to address new types of questions and at new levels of detail. Second, it is now possible to collect new types of specimens and ancillary materials (e.g., media recordings, new tissue preparations) that open doors to whole new areas of inquiry, such as animal behavior, disease, or gene expression, that traditionally have been mostly “off limits” to collections-based research. Finally, advances in information technologies are now making it possible for researchers to amass and analyze huge datasets from biological specimens, making it possible to answer questions at unprecedented scales. As a consequence of these various advances, museums and their research collections are being used in ways unimaginable just a few short decades ago. The new opportunities facing collections also bring with them considerable challenges. First, many of the technologies now being used to gather data from museum specimens come from disciplines outside of organismal biology, and so may be unfamiliar to many ornithologists. Second, the most basic function of a biological collection is to document diversity over time and space, yet today only a small number of actively collecting museums collect the whole range of new specimen and data types that allow for powerful analyses. Finally, different specimen and data types often require specialized equipment and expertise for preservation and curation, creating challenges for linking specimens and data across different institutions. The primary goal of this symposium is to highlight the growing research potential for biological specimens, and to excite and motivate a new generation of ornithologists now poised to bring about a renaissance in collections-based ornithological research. A subsidiary but complementary goal is to examine the new challenges facing collections today, and to discuss ways that these challenges can be met.
Convener M. Webster