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20 November 2018


1930 – 2040 UTC

Moderator: @ TheTinyBirdGirl | Villanova University, US


1930 UTC | Paul Sweet @pablo_dulce
UTC 1200 | American Museum of Natural History, US

The role of museum collections in modern day ornithology

Bird collections provide the foundation of ornithological knowledge. Avian taxonomy and nomenclature are underpinned by the type specimens housed in museums. Species distributions and movements are extracted from specimens properly labeled with locality and dates. The fields of anatomy, molt, developmental and reproductive biology among others, are almost wholly based on the skin, skeleton, spirit, egg and nest specimens archived in museums. In recent decades the development of new techniques in molecular biology, imaging, 3D scanning, spectrophotometry and chemical analysis, coupled with ever more powerful computer processing, has greatly increased the value of extant collections in ways that the original collectors could never have imagined. Progress in databasing has made it possible to quickly provide specimen data to researchers via the internet and many natural history museums have digitized their specimen data. Several initiatives have developed powerful tools for capturing biodiversity data from multiple institutions, notably the distributed database Vertnet. Efforts to retrospectively georeference locality data from collections, combined with geographic information systems have led to the development of species distribution modelling. Modern museum ornithology is thriving, and yet more information will be gained from collections as new techniques are developed. However, these innovations have also shown that significant gaps exist in the specimen record, particularly for genetic and anatomical specimens. There is a need for continued collecting and investment in curation if museum collections are to remain relevant.

Paul Sweet was born in Bristol, England and has been interested in birds for as long as he can remember. After completing a degree in Zoology at the University of Liverpool, he traveled extensively in the Americas and Asia for several years before working in the Raffles Collection in Singapore. In 1991 he moved to New York to work at the American Museum of Natural History where he is now the Collection Manager of the Ornithology Department, the largest bird collection in the world. During his tenure at the AMNH, he has participated in many museum collecting expeditions, most recently to Benin, Cuba, The Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.



2000 UTC | Henry McGhie @HenryMcr
UTC 1200 | Manchester Museum, University of
UTC 1200 | Manchester, UK

How can museum collections support bird conservation effectively?

Museums contain millions of natural history specimens gathered over the last two centuries. What do researchers think these could be used for, and how could collections be developed to answer a range of conservation and environmental research questions effectively? A project is underway, funded by the British Ecological Society, to find out. This presentation will invite researchers and conservationists to get involved.

2010 UTC | Laure Cauchard @CauchardLaure
UTC 1200 | Institute of Biological and Environmental
UTC 1200 | Sciences, University of Aberdeen, UK

Cognitive senescence correlates to age-related decline in reproductive success in wild Great Tit Parus major

Behaviour is at the front of animal responses to environmental changes. Innovation, the ability to use novel or modified behaviours, can positively relate to reproductive success within species. Yet, whether this link is causal (i.e. higher cognitive capacities improves the finding of quality food, increasing condition) or a third variable is involved (i.e. a shift in the oxidative balance leads to a fast accumulation of oxidative damage in metabolically active tissues, thus to a decline in cognitive/physical performances) is currently unknown. We used wild great tits to test this hypothesis, which is a major gap in our understanding of the evolution of cognition.

2020 UTC | Oldrich Tomasek @OldrichTomasek
UTC 1200 | Institute of Vertebrate Biology, Czech
UTC 1200 | Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic

Fuel for the pace of life: blood glucose concentration coevolves with life-history traits in songbirds

We tested whether basal concentration of blood glucose (G0), a major blood-borne energy source, coevolves with life-history traits, hence constituting a component of pace-of-life syndromes. In support of our hypothesis, we found G0 to be negatively correlated with body mass, clutch size and clutch/egg mass across 30 songbird species. These links were not mediated through basal metabolic rate (BMR) as G0 and BMR were not correlated. Interestingly, G0 was more tightly correlated with fecundity than BMR. In contrast, G0 was not correlated with maximum lifespan, suggesting that long-lived species can evolve physiological adaptations preventing ageing-accelerating effects of high glucose concentrations.

2030 UTC | Ben Freeman @BenGFreeman1
UTC 1200 | University of British Columbia, Canada

I am using playback experiments to define species limits and so should you

Is this one species or two?” is a basic question in understanding biodiversity. But answering this question for related populations that are geographically isolated is difficult. Would they interbreed (= same species) or not (= different species)? I show that playback experiments are a helpful tool to understand species limits between isolated populations. Specifically, populations that fail to recognize each others’ songs should be considered different species, as I have demonstrated for many examples of Neotropical birds. Playback experiments are easier than ever to conduct, and, if you are studying species limits, you should consider doing them yourself.

2040 UTC | End of Day 1 Presentations resume 0700 UTC, 21 November

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Presenter guidelines
How to follow/interect guidelines
Session 1 (commences 1200 UTC, 20 November)
Session 2 (commences 1600 UTC, 20 November)
Session 3 (commences 1930 UTC, 20 November)
Session 4 (commences 0700 UTC, 21 November)
Session 5 (commences 0900 UTC, 21 November)
Session 6 (commences 1110 UTC, 21 November)
Frequently asked questions
Presentations from #BOU17TC – our first Twitter Conference


Get in touch with #BOU18TC organisers via Twitter or email:
Steve Dudley @stevedudley_ or email Steve
Nina O’Hanlon @Nina_OHanlon or email Nina

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