Celebrating Connections: Birds Across Borders
We see this meeting theme as multi-faceted and really bridging all the major science that unites us as ornithologists. From evolution of species’ ranges and hybrid zones, to dispersal and migration ecology, to conservation issues that span geographic areas from urban to rural, from temperate to tropical. The theme is also particularly appropriate given that Tucson is a border town and we plan to have a special symposium on conservation and border issues specifically. Finally, in line with this theme, we have a stellar line-up of plenary speakers. Each of these researchers does truly integrative work that has implications in all three of these areas.
Prospects for tropical birds and a changing world
Date of Plenary:
Jeff Brawn currently serves as Professor and Head of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois, a position he has held for 8 years. Jeff received a B.S. in Wildlife Biology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1975, a M.S. in Wildlife from the University of Missouri in 1979, and a Ph.D. in Zoology-Ecology from Northern Arizona University in 1985. Jeff’s graduate research focused on the population biology of cavity nesting birds. After two postdoctoral positions with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), Jeff joined the scientific staff of the Illinois Natural History Survey and later the faculty of the University of Illinois. Jeff is an elected Fellow of the AOS and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Jeff has served on numerous service committees and editorial boards of ornithological societies and was Treasurer of the (then) AOU from 2004-2008. Jeff studies basic and applied ecology with an emphasis on the biology of birds. He has conducted research in the Midwestern U.S. on issues such as habitat fragmentation and the local diversity of birds, prescribed fire and avian populations, the role of birds in the transmission dynamics of West Nile Virus, and the effects of agricultural practices on the sustainability of bird populations. Dr. Brawn has worked in the Republic of Panama for over 30 years where – in collaboration with STRI, grad students and colleagues – he has studied the demography, life histories, and behavior of tropical forest birds. Recently, Jeff has explored relationships among expected climate change, especially altered precipitation regimes, land use practices, and the viability of tropical bird populations.
The avian tree of life: crossing the borders among disciplines
Date of Plenary:
Rebecca Kimball is a Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Florida. She received her B.A. in Biology from Dartmouth College (1985), and her Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico (1995). She conducted postdoctoral research at the University of New Mexico and Ohio State University before joining the faculty at the University of Florida in 2001, where she also is affiliated with the School of Natural Resources and the Environment, the Genetics Institute, the Center for Smell and Taste, and the Florida Museum of Natural History. Rebecca is an evolutionary biologist with a research program that incorporates both field studies and molecular analyses to examine evolutionary patterns and processes. Many of her current projects are focused on estimating avian phylogenies both within specific groups as well as across all birds, where her primary interest is in understanding trait evolution. She also has ongoing projects in behavioral ecology and population/conservation genetics in several different taxa, as well as projects that link changes in the genome with changes at the organismal level in an evolutionary framework to elucidate proximate and ultimate causes of change. In addition to her research, Rebecca has contributed strongly to the broader discipline of ornithology: She is a Fellow and currently serves as Treasurer of the American Ornithological Society, serves as has served on Council and committees for AOS and other societies, and is an editor at Ibis.
2018 Early Professional Award Winner – James G. Cooper Award
A sex-specific schedule for breeding development in migratory songbirds
Date of Early Professional Award Winner Plenary:
Dr. Kristen Covino is currently a Post-doctoral Fellow at Canisius College and will be starting as an Assistant Professor at Loyola Marymount University in August 2018. Kristen’s research encompasses many scales of inquiry, ranging from avian physiology to continental-scale migratory movements, and seeks to understand the movement biology and whole life-cycle biology of migratory birds. Her interest in birds started as an undergraduate when she took Ornithology and conducted research with Sara Morris and continued during her early graduate work with Rebecca Holberton. For her Ph.D., Kristen was a member of the Migratory Bird Research Group where she worked with Frank Moore at the University of Southern Mississippi. Her dissertation work investigated breeding development in several inter-continental migrants en route to their breeding grounds and demonstrates that the phenology of physiological breeding development in these species is sex-specific. Kristen is also interested in addressing issues focused on making ornithology more accessible to women and the LGBT community as well as promoting undergraduate participation in research. She recently received a Diversity and Inclusion Award from AOS and in 2017 she became an elective member of the AOS.
A bird’s eye view of the origin and maintenance of biodiversity
Date of Early Professional Award Winner Plenary:
Dr. Scott A. Taylor joined the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado at Boulder in August 2016. His lab applies genomics and field experiments to natural hybrid zones and closely related taxa to investigate reproductive isolation—the hallmark of speciation—and the genetic bases of traits relevant to speciation. This research also provides insight into the impacts of anthropogenic change, including climate change, on species distributions, interactions, and evolution.
Scott was previously a Fuller and Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, where he worked with Dr. Irby Lovette using genomic tools to understand hybridization and species boundaries in chickadees, warblers, and redpoll finches. He obtained his Ph.D. from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, where he worked with Dr. Vicki Friesen and studied the ecology and evolution of South American seabirds, including the charismatic Blue-footed Booby, the Peruvian Booby, and the Peruvian Pelican. Dr. Taylor’s publications detail his diverse research interests on topics ranging from evolutionary genetics to foraging ecology.
Born and raised on the coast of Lake Huron in southwestern Ontario, Dr. Taylor’s passion for natural history extends as far back as he can remember. He has worked extensively as a naturalist, leading groups of all ages on excursions exploring the diversity of the globe from Antarctica to Ascension Island, the Galápagos Islands, and the high Arctic. Dr. Taylor is an enthusiastic and dedicated scientist and educator, is committed to supporting diversity and inclusion in STEM, and is a passionate natural historian at heart.
Ian MacGregor Fors
Living in the Anthropocene: Birds facing a changing world
Date of Plenary:
Ian MacGregor-Fors is a researcher at the Institute of Ecology (INECOL) in Mexico. His passion for birds since adolescence lead him to study Biology at the University of Guadalajara (Mexico), receiving a M.Sc. (2008) and a Ph.D. (2010), both with honors, from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). He has focused his research on untangling the response of wildlife communities to anthropogenic ecological disturbances with an important focus on birds, as well as the role of invasive birds as avian diversity drivers. As the author/co-author of more than 65 peer-reviewed publications and diverse popular science pieces, Ian is highly committed to filling the knowledge gap regarding the ecology of Neotropical birds, as we all as other wildlife groups, in human-modified systems. Ian is currently on the Advisory Board of the International Network Urban Biodiversity & Design (URBIO), seeking to promote the implementation of the United Nations ‘Convention on Biological Diversity’ (CBD) in urban areas. He was Associate Editor for Landscape and Urban Planning from 2014 to 2016 (where he is currently Editorial Advisor), and is presently Associate Editor for the Journal of Urban Ecology, Urban Naturalist, and Huitzil, the Mexican Journal of Ornithology. Ian is confident that the use of evidence-based knowledge from the physical, ecological, and social components of human-modified systems can result in biodiverse and healthier landscapes.