Round Tables

Tips & Techniques for Being a Good Colleague to Members of Under-Represented Groups in Ornithology

Organizers: Angela Tringali, Kristin Covino, Auriel Fournier, and Jennifer Smith

The NAOC Diversity Statement acknowledges the importance of diversity and creating an environment which promotes equality of opportunity for all. Much effort has been focused on recruiting people from under-represented communities to STEM fields, but less has been done to ensure their retention and inclusion once they have enlisted. Addressing these challenges is of paramount importance, because the end goal of diversity and inclusion efforts should not be the presence of representatives of under-represented communities, but their career-long success. Underrepresented minorities may face a multitude of barriers that affect retention and success including unconscious bias in the workplace or being made to feel isolated when members of majority communities have a poor understanding of the challenges they face. The aim of this discussion panel (and its companion symposium) is to help those in supervisory, hiring or mentorship positions to be able to identify and remove barriers that are impeding the success of colleagues and peers. The discussion will begin by discussing the challenges faced by members of the ornithological community from under-represented groups which we will pull from the subjects discussed at workshop entitled “Promoting diversity and inclusion in ornithology – mini discussions.” Finally, we will open the round table up to questions from the audience. The goal of this roundtable is to help the ornithological community achieve the goal of inclusion by providing the attendees with actionable ways to improve the mentorship and inclusion of people from groups that are under-represented in ornithology.

3 Billion Birds Lost – Now what?

Organizers: Rebecca (Becky) Stewart, Ken Rosenberg, and Anna Lello-Smith

In September 2019, Rosenberg et al. reported staggering bird population losses across most of the North America’s avifauna – a net loss of 3 billion birds since 1970. The declines transcend biomes and species guilds and signal an urgent conservation need. The publication in Science was accompanied by an extensive awareness-raising campaign that garnered the attention of media and public nationally and internationally. Today, nearly a year later, the question remains, “Now what?” How do we, as scientists, researchers and conservationists, move forward from here? What do we need to know to address these dramatic declines? Where are the immediate and ongoing research gaps? What actions do we take? And how do we collectively address these issues across diverse landscapes and jurisdictions? The round table’s primary objective is to engage students, researchers and agencies in a discussion related to some of these key questions–bringing fresh perspectives and new ideas to the table—to identify key information gaps, new (or unaddressed) research areas and other opportunities that will help shape conservation science over the next decade. Round table participants will gain an increased awareness of the potential and significant role they can play in conservation science as well as a clear path to ongoing participation, collaboration and engagement in working to save our shared birds. We plan to publish the results of this round table as a Perspectives in The Condor, inviting participants to engage in development of this publication. This round table is co-sponsored by Partners in Flight and the American Ornithological Society Conservation Committee.

The avian microbiome

Organizers: Brian K. Trevelline, Elin Videvall, and Kevin Kohl

A recent surge in research has demonstrated that the microbiome—the archaeal, bacterial, fungal and viral communities residing on and inside organisms—profoundly influence host health and performance through their impacts on the immune system, digestion, development and even behavior. However, most of these investigations have on humans or model systems. While research into roles that microbes play in the ecology and evolution of their hosts is a rapidly growing area, the importance of gut microbiome in birds is poorly understood. This roundtable will bring together ornithologists with interest in the avian microbiome to discuss the basics, recent advances, limitations, and the promise of this emerging field for answering major questions in ornithology. Through this roundtable (and associated workshop and symposium), we will expose NAOC attendees to a diversity of microbiome applications in avian systems. We hope that this roundtable will inspire ornithologists to consider the role of microbial associations in their study systems while sparking collaborations among synergistic projects.

A mixed flock: diverse narratives within ornithology

Organizers: Carly Aulicky and Chad Wilhite

What does it mean to be an LGBTQIA+ ornithologist and how do our personal identities impact us in the workplace? We propose to bring together LGBTQIA+ identified and allied ornithologists to discuss their work, experiences, and personal stories. Featured panelists will be asked a series of prepared questions to help lead discussion through key topics and allow each panelist to share their personal stories about what it means to exist in the intersectional space of being a queer ornithologist. The structured Q&A portion of the roundtable will ensure key topics such as: how their LGBTQIA+ identity has influenced their relationship with their profession and/or research, perspective on what they think acknowledgement and inclusion of diverse narratives within ornithology means for the future of our field, what can be done to ally with underrepresented individuals, and advice for up and coming ornithology professionals. The more formal Q&A will shift to open audience questions and discussion with the panelists for the remaining duration of the roundtable. Establishing open communication between panelists and participants will help create an inclusive and welcoming space to discuss sometimes difficult topics related to personal identity within our profession. LGBTQIA+ individuals represent a hidden diversity or an unseen portion of the ornithological community and a round table discussion will lead to increased awareness of the work, issues, and presence of queer ornithologists throughout the field. The results from our conversation will be used to inform efforts to increase the inclusion and visibility of LGBTQIA+ ornithologists.

Heron Conservation in the Americas

Organizers: Michael (Clay) Green, John Brzorad, Dale Gawlik, and Andrew Kasner

The Conservation Action Plan for Herons of the World was last updated in 2007. This comprehensive plan sets forth strategic principles for heron, egret and bittern (hereafter herons) conservation around the globe. However, in an ever-changing world, the plan needs to be reassessed and revised to address the growing challenges, threats and opportunities facing herons and their associated habitats. The proposed roundtable will bring together heron researchers and conservationists to begin the discussion about species status updates and heron conservation within the Americas. The goals for this roundtable will be to facilitate networking amongst researchers, obtain updates on species, and share current and proposed research and conservation initiatives related to herons and their habitats. We invite all that are interested in heron research and conservation and want to be involved in conservation action planning for herons, egrets and bitterns throughout the Americas.

Applications of Unmanned Vehicle Systems (AKA Drones) to the Study and Conservation of Birds

Organizers: David Bird, Dominique Chabot, and Ann McKellar

Over the past 10 years, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, has exploded in popularity in ecological studies in general, and ornithology in particular. As a cutting-edge tool, drones have many advantages over traditional survey and research techniques, as they may minimize human mortality due to plane crashes, reduce cost and disturbance, increase accuracy, and allow the collection of high-resolution data over large and/or otherwise inaccessible areas. The objective of this Round-Table Discussion is to introduce the current various applications of unmanned vehicle systems to both ornithology and bird conservation to attendees with no experience in the use of these machines and to determine what other attendees have been accomplishing with them. Specifically, we are interested in airing and hearing the latest news from around the world on the use of drones to count, detect, and track birds, as well as to disperse nuisance birds. Our intended outcomes are three-fold. First, we wish to bring together experts who have been using drones in ornithological applications and those who are merely contemplating their use in their fields to encourage the latter to use this pioneering technology. Second, we expect to discuss failures and successes with respect to current uses of drones in ornithology as a means of assisting those in need of help. Finally, we hope that a face-to-face discussion among both experts and potential users of drones will result in future research collaborations between ornithologists in academic, government and private sectors.

Una perspectiva continental: What can the house wren tell us about environmental change?

Organizers: Erin E. Grabarczyk and Luis Sandoval

House wrens transcend borders across South, Central, and North America, signaling their presence in diverse habitat, from sea level to mountain tops, with their loud, bubbling song. Because of their wide distribution and affinity for disturbance, house wrens present a unique opportunity to study the adaptations, or lack thereof, in response to a rapidly changing world. We invite past, present, and future house wren researchers to join a friendly discussion that will promote collaboration, idea sharing, and ask, what can the house wren tell us about environmental change?

Los Troglodytes aedon trascienden las fronteras de Suramérica, pasando por Centroamérica y llegando a Norteamérica, indicando su presencia en diversos hábitats, desde el nivel del mar hasta las cimas de las montañas, con su fuerte y trinoso canto. Debido a su amplia distribución y afinidad por los disturbios, T. aedon presentan una oportunidad única para estudiar las adaptaciones, o la falta de ellas, en respuesta a un mundo que cambia rápidamente. Invitamos a los investigadores del pasado, el presente y el futuro de T. aedon a unirse a una discusión amistosa que promoverá la colaboración, el intercambio de ideas y responder, ¿qué puede decirnos T. aedon sobre el cambio ambiental?

The Red Siskin in Puerto Rico: Extant or Extinct?

Organizers: Jack C. Eitniear, Paul Woods, and Michael Braun

In 2017, a few months before Hurricane Maria devastated the island, Joe Santiago reported Red Siskins coming to a bird feeder on his farm “Rancho de Guayamas” located between Salinas and Guyama. This would be the fifth unverified sighting of the species since the published observation of Herbert Raffaele in 1983. In 2017 just prior to the hurricane (during March, April, May, and August), using playback of a recorded song, transects were covered in an effort to verify the presence of the siskin. Since the hurricane limited effort has been made to search for the siskin. With the understorey beginning to recover our past efforts need to be discussed and future plans developed to determine if the Red Siskin is extant or extinct on the island.

Expanding the Motus Wildlife Tracking Network: Regional Planning and Technology Updates

Organizers: Lucas DeGroote, Lisa Kiziuk, Stewart McKenzie, and Matthew Webb

The Motus Wildlife Tracking System has grown explosively over the past five years, expanding from a largely regional Northeast telemetry network to one with an international scope; including more than 850 receiver stations on five continents, involving more than 600 research partners and collaborators. As Motus expands to its global potential, strategic planning is urgently needed at multiple levels to ensure sustainability of both funding and infrastructure maintenance, to provide more seamless data integration and processing as data upload rates increase dramatically, and to create systems to adopt and adapt to changing technology. This round table discussion will connect current and future Motus users. We will outline our project to install 100 Motus receiving stations across the northeastern United States and offer “lessons learned” to collaborators planning and building networks in other regions in North America. We invite those building similar networks to contribute to a continental level strategic plan. We will also discuss sustainable funding; infrastructure maintenance and upgrades; and emerging data analytics, tools and technologies. By informing and connecting Motus users we hope to share our expertise to guide the sustainable growth of Motus for the foreseeable future.

Balancing Research and Teaching at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions

Organizers: Maureen McClung, Mike Butler, Michael Collins, and Andrea Townsend

Leading an ornithological research program at a primarily undergraduate institution (PUI) presents challenges that are distinct from those experienced at larger institutions with graduate programs. Heavy teaching/advising loads, limited access to funding and equipment, small pools of motivated undergraduate students, and the rapid turnover of trained undergraduates can make it difficult to maintain a productive research program. Yet, there are often cases where faculty at PUIs successfully obtain funding, mentor students, and publish papers, all while meeting other demands of the job. This round table will begin a discussion amongst faculty at PUIs, administrators who wish to support these faculty, and students and recent graduates who are interested in pursuing careers at PUIs. We hope this discussion will lead to the establishment of a network of individuals who can share insight and resources to help faculty at all stages of their careers achieve their goals for ornithological research at their institutions. To begin, the discussion leaders will solicit specific concerns and issues from the audience regarding challenges they have faced as faculty at PUIs. We anticipate developing a list of common issues we hope to tackle through information sharing and future meeting opportunities. As part of the round table, we will pass around a contact sheet so that participants can opt-in to the network. By the end of the session, we hope to have established the next steps for this network, which could include a strategy for information sharing and plans for faculty mentoring opportunities.

Birds of the World: Contribute your expertise!

Organizers: Paul G. Rodewald and Brooke Keeney

Birds of the World (BOW) is the most comprehensive reference for the life histories of the World’s 10,700+ bird species and the web’s premiere resource for digital natural history. This round table seeks to engage ornithologists to contribute their information and expertise to species accounts. We will demonstrate advances of BOW species accounts, including new multimedia capabilities and integration of data products. A discussion will follow the demonstration with topics to include: the process of species account revisions and updates, contributions and authorship, community engagement, and suggestions for future developments.

Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and the Tri-national North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI): What does “Bird Friendly” mean?

Organizers: Ruth Bennett, Justin Bowe, Marshall Johnson, and Greg Butcher

The Bird Friendly certification concept, which links consumers with farmers or companies that conserve habitat, was first pioneered by the Smithsonian’s Bird Friendly® Coffee program. Many groups have subsequently adopted “bird friendly” products and campaigns, but these efforts can be disjointed and suffer from low consumer awareness. In this roundtable, we seek to gather people who use the generic term “bird friendly”, or who engage in agriculture and development projects with conservation benefits for birds, to think collectively about how to define and promote a network of Bird Friendly agricultural products and lifestyle choices. This roundtable will follow the NABCI/ABC symposium: “The relevance of bird conservation in broader land use, conservation, and sustainable development efforts,” and invites all symposium speakers and attendees. We will guide a discussion that draws on the experiences of current conservation partnerships that involve coffee, cacao, cardamom, forest products, cattle, shrimp, and salt. Participants will help identify the common ground and strengths of these diverse initiatives and then discuss collective needs to promote and strengthen a potential “Bird Friendly Coalition.” We envision the feedback from this roundtable leading to a guiding document about Bird Friendly conservation, development, and agriculture. This document will serve as a valuable resource to consumer groups and conservation organizations that seek to conserve birds with agricultural and development projects and chart a path towards greater collaboration and market awareness.