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28 November 2017


UTC 1600 – 2045
Moderators Jordan Rutter @JERutter and Samantha Hauser @SamanthaSHauser


UTC 1600 | Pete Marra @PeterPMarra
UTC 1200 | Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, rUS

Studying birds in the context of the annual cycle: Carry-over effects and seasonal interactions

Migratory birds spend different parts of the annual cycle in geographically disparate places. The conditions and selective pressures during each period are likely to affect individual performance during subsequent periods. This simple fact presents us with considerable obstacles for understanding how agents of global change (i.e., climate, land-use) will influence the ecology, evolution, and conservation of migratory birds. Such inter-seasonal effects are poorly understood within most avian migration systems, in large part because it has been difficult to follow individuals and specific populations year-round and the limiting factors and regulatory mechanisms that determine abundance remain poorly understood for most birds. Here, I will show using long-term research from throughout the annual cycle how events on wintering grounds have important consequences for breeding events and annual survival. Understanding how global change will influence migratory organisms requires the study of biological phenomena in the context of the entire annual cycle.

Pete Marra directs the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center.  His research has three broad themes, including migration, climate change, and urban ecology. Communicating his excitement for the conservation of wildlife through innovative engagement is a high priority. He is the author of two books and 200+ papers. Pete started Neighborhood Nestwatch and The Migratory Connectivity Project. He is an avid fisherman, passionate cook and father of two.


UTC 1630 | Nora Lisnizer @NoraLisnizer
UTC 1200 | CESIMAR-CONICET, Argentina

Trophic niche expansion during the non-breeding season in the opportunistic Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus

The study of the trophic ecology of birds outside the breeding season allows the understanding of predator-prey relationships, population dynamics, and interactions with human activities. Using stable isotope analysis (δ15N, δ13C) of primary feathers moulted sequentially we tested the trophic niche variation during the non-breeding period in Kelp Gulls Larus dominicanus from a colony in coastal Patagonia, Argentina. Isotopic niche position varied due to progressive δ15N depletion and the niche spread showed a progressive expansion. Low δ13C values of some feathers suggest that trophic niche expansion may be driven by the utilization of non-marine food resources by some individuals

UTC 1645 | Joelle Mangelinckx @JMMangelinckx
UTC 1200 | University of Maine, US

Reduced female survival during reproduction in a ground-nesting bird

Adult survival during reproduction is an important and often overlooked contributor to the reproductive success of avian populations. We monitored female survival of Ruffed Grouse Bonasa umbellus during nesting and brood-rearing in central Maine, USA, and evaluated the influence of forest characteristics on female survival during these stages. We observed 71.6% and 73.0% female survival while nesting and brood-rearing, respectively, inferring that ~48% of reproductive Ruffed Grouse females were killed by predators. We provide management suggestions that may mitigate sources of mortality to Ruffed Grouse females, thereby enhancing the reproductive potential of this population.

UTC 1700 | Auriel M.V. Fournier @RallidaeRule
UTC 1200 | Mississippi State University, US

Informing Gulf of Mexico wide avian monitoring with structured decision making

In the wake of the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill in 2010 the need for large scale monitoring of birds and their habitats to better understand the population status of the 500+ species using the Gulf of Mexico throughout the year, as well as the ecological processes driving those populations and how management actions can help and hurt. We are using structured decision making to help bring measures of uncertainty, current knowledge and community values together to coordinate priorities for bird monitoring across the Gulf of Mexico system

UTC 1715 | Erik Blomberg @ejblomberg
UTC 1200 | University of Maine, US

One nest or two? Factors affecting reproductive decisions in Greater Sage-grouse

Not all birds nest each year, and this process is often an under-studied aspect of species’ nesting ecology. This is further hampered by imperfect detection of nests, and resulting under-estimation of nesting rates. We developed a multi-state model to evaluate rates of nesting by radio-marked Greater Sage-Grouse in eastern Nevada. We found evidence for density-dependent effects on sage-grouse nesting propensity, and also that during years of drought females were less likely to attempt a second nest following loss of their first nest. Our work in this system suggest females alter reproductive allocation during poor conditions via their secondary nesting attempts.

UTC 1730 | BREAK

UTC 1745 | Rachael Orben @RachaelOrben
UTC 1200 | Oregon State University, US

Ontogenetic changes in at-sea distributions of immature Short-tailed Albatrosses

The ability of juveniles to locate distant foraging regions can rely on innate or learned information. The Short-tailed Albatross is recovering from extensive harvesting, and has recently benefited from translocation efforts. We tracked 51 fledglings for up to five years: naturally-reared chicks from Torishima and chicks translocated to Mukojima, Japan. The majority of fledglings reached the Bering Sea that first summer. Juveniles showed strong seasonal changes in distributions, traveling more in winter, and occupying regions not typically used by adults. Juvenile Short-tailed Albatrosses explored almost the entire species range, highlighting the capacity of individuals to transverse the North Pacific.

UTC 1800 | Luke Halpin @seabirdresearch
UTC 1200 | Halpin Wildlife Research, Canada

Migration and foraging ranges of sympatric Fork-tailed and Leach’s Storm-petrels

In 2016, we used geolocators to track movements of breeding Fork-tailed Oceanodroma furcata and Leach’s O. leucorhoa Storm-petrels from the Gillam Islands in British Columbia, Canada. We collected blood and feather samples for stable carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) isotope analysis and DNA sexing. Leach’s storm-petrels made north/south migrations to tropical waters whereas fork-tailed storm-petrels made east/west migrations in cold North Pacific waters. Preliminary stable isotope analyses suggest differences in diet, in part reflecting different wintering ranges between the species, and possibly sexual segregation. Kernel density analysis indicated core storm-petrel foraging areas occur within an area of intense commercial shipping.

UTC 1815 | Emily Cohen @Emily_B_Cohen
UTC 1200 | Smithsonian Migratory Bird Centre, US

Local to global environments influence migrating songbirds

Understanding the role of en-route threats and habitats in the demography of migratory bird populations requires information about 1) their distribution, abundance, timing and habitat affiliations, 2) the quality of habitats in areas where they occur, 3) the influence of global environmental changes, and 4) the distribution of breeding and wintering populations during migration, migratory connectivity. At the same time, technological and analytical developments are making it possible to answer many of the questions that previously limited our ability to develop conservation priorities for migrants. I will highlight projects and future research interests focused on these questions.

UTC 1830 | Emily A. McKinnon @BirdBiologist
UTC 1200 | University of Windsor, US

Warblers who wing it: Does migration strategy predict wing shape in Parulidae?

Flight performance imposes strong selective pressure on morphology of birds, particularly those that migrate long distances. New tracking data has revealed, surprisingly, that many songbirds use a ‘long-jump’ migration strategy, stopping infrequently and making long flights. This should select for wings that are efficient for long-duration flights, in contrast to birds that use a ‘short-hop’ strategy (frequent stops, short flights). I tested this hypothesis by measuring wingtip pointedness and relative wing length in museum specimens of 19 species of wood-warbler (Parulidae). Understanding the relationship between morphology and migration strategy will allow insight into the evolution of migration patterns.

UTC 1845 | Jordan Rutter @JERutter
UTC 1200 | American Ornithological Society &
UTC 1200 | Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, US

Plover lovers? Knowledge and public support for piping plover conservation by visitors to Michigan beaches

Although the Great Lakes Piping Plover population has been listed as endangered for 30 years, no formal research has examined beach-goer knowledge of piping plovers or level of public support for associated conservation and management efforts. Human opinion surveys (500) were conducted at current and recent piping plover nesting sites in Michigan during the 2016-breeding season (May-August). Results indicate that approximately half of Michigan beach-goers are familiar with piping plovers to at least some extent. The level of support for protecting beach wildlife was strong but willingness to accept restrictions was significantly weaker. Despite overall positive support for plover conservation, increased outreach and education is required to achieve recovery goals. Additionally, dog beaches should be designated at public recreation locations to provide areas where dogs and their owners do not come in conflict with plovers and other wildlife. As with any recovery effort, public support is critical for successful conservation.

UTC 1900 | BREAK

UTC 1915 | Betsy Evans @evanbe01
UTC 1200 | Florida Atlantic University, US

Dietary plasticity of a threatened species in response to human-induced rapid environmental change (HIREC)

Wood Stork population declines have been attributed to HIREC. In Florida, humans have disrupted water level fluctuations in natural wetlands and created anthropogenic water bodies. To investigate stork response to HIREC, we sampled prey availability in anthropogenic and natural wetlands. To determine prey selection by storks, we compared food boluses collected from nestlings to available prey in wetlands. Storks selected prey that were more similar to exotic fishes in anthropogenic wetlands than to the smaller, native fishes in natural wetlands. Storks exhibited plasticity in foraging habitat and prey selection that may allow them to adapt to HIREC.

UTC 1930 | Eunbi Kwon @eunbkwon
UTC 1200 | Virginia Tech, US

Geographic variation in the intensity of phenological mismatch between Arctic shorebirds and their invertebrate prey

Responses to climate change can vary across trophic levels, leading to ‘phenological mismatch’. We tested for geographic patterns in phenological mismatches between six Arctic-breeding shorebird species and their invertebrate prey at ten coastal Arctic sites in North America. Breeding at higher latitudes and more easterly longitudes meant greater phenological mismatch both at the individual nest and population levels. Geographic patterns in phenological mismatch were not explained by the observed patterns of long-term climatic change, but covaried with the variation in timing of snow melt and egg laying, flexibility in breeding timing, and the height of local food peaks.

UTC 1945 | Alicia Brunner @AliciaBrunner
UTC 1200 | Ohio State University &
UTC 1200 | Smithsonian Migratory Bird Centre, US

Wintering Swainson’s Warblers shift home ranges and habitat use in response to changes in precipitation

Neo-tropical migratory birds that overwinter in the Caribbean are experiencing fluctuations in food abundance caused by shifting rainfall regimes and an overall drying trend. But, birds might have the ability to respond to these changes by shifting their seasonal home ranges to areas with habitat characteristics that promote higher food availability. I tracked Swainson’s Warblers movements in Font Hill, Jamaica and identified habitat characteristics, soil moisture, and arthropod abundance in each individual’s home range. Birds that demonstrate flexibility in habitat use to track shifts in prey on a seasonal scale, may have the ability to adapt to long-term environmental change

UTC 2000 | Junior A. Tremblay @Tremblay_Jun
UTC 1200 | Environment and Climate Change Canada

Management scenarios for recovery of the threatened Bicknell’s Thrush (Catharus Bicknelli) in a climate-change context

Climate change-driven range shifts are projected to be most dramatic at northern latitudes because of greater projected increases in temperature, such as in Canadian boreal forests. Bicknell’s Thrush Catharus bicknelli is a migratory bird whose range is one of the most restricted in Northeastern North America, and is classified as threatened under the Species at Risk Act in Canada. Bioclimatic models project a loss of more than 50% of the species habitat in Northeastern U.S. over the next 30 years. We modelled the impacts of several forest management and conservation scenarios, natural (i.e. wildfires and insect outbreaks) disturbances as well as climate-induced changes on tree species growth and reproduction on forest landscape structure in Bicknell’s Thrush breeding range of eastern Canada. Our results offer benchmarks for considering effective long-term conservation of critical habitat in a changing world.

UTC 2015 | Nataly Hidalgo Aranzamendi @AranzNataly
UTC 1200 | Monash University, US

Negative effects of high rainfall and temperature extremes on nest success in a tropical bird

The sensitivity of tropical species to climate variation is not well known. We studied effects of climate means and extremes and habitat quality on nest failure and productivity in an Australian tropical bird. Using 5 years of data, we show predation caused 57% of brood losses and was more likely with extreme rainfall and hot temperatures. Nest flooding (15% of losses) was more likely with extreme rainfall. Increasing nest height as a response was only partly successful. High rainfall also reduced fledgling survival. Nest failure was frequent in lower quality habitat. Climate projections predict negative consequences for this endangered species.

UTC 2030 | Paige Byerly @paigebyerly
UTC 1200 | University of Louisiana at Lafayette, US

Factors Influencing Fluctuating Colony Attendance in Caribbean Roseate Terns

Here, we use 15 years of count data to investigate environmental factors driving fluctuating colony attendance in Caribbean Roseate Terns (ROST). Factors assessed included sea surface temperature (SST) and marine primary productivity (PP), both of which are commonly used proxies for prey availability in marine systems. We found that SST in the PRB is significantly increasing, and has a negative effect on yearly ROST colony attendance. We did not find a correlation between SST and PP, or PP and ROST nest counts. Results indicate that ROST persistence in the Caribbean may be threatened by the effects of global climate change.

UTC 2045 | BREAK

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