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21 November 2018


0700 – 0830 UTC

Moderator: @sk8sbd | Barcelona University, Spain


0700 UTC | Darryl Jones @MagpiejonesD
UTC 1200 | Griffith University, Australia

Implications of anthropogenic foods in the urban environment

Every day throughout the western world, enormous amounts of food – mainly seeds – are intentionally placed out for local birds to consume. This is an extremely popular and enjoyable pastime, involving significant numbers of people over vast areas. The scale of the global bird feeding industry is astounding and continues to expand. While the human participants are particularly focused on their private gardens, all these supplementary foraging resources are having dramatic ecological and social consequences across vast landscapes. Despite the immense scale of this practice, until recently remarkably little research had actually been conducted in the suburban gardens where most of these activities occur. A new suite of clever studies and experiments is now being undertaken at the coal face: the feeders and bird tables of our towns and cities. This work is revealing many unexpected and sometimes alarming discoveries including the way that feeding is thoroughly reconstructing entire bird communities, providing terrifyingly effective conduits for disease to spread, and drastically altering patterns of migration. However, feeding also supports numerous declining species and improves survival over winter. But bird feeding is also affecting people as well, offering a profoundly important connection with nature with many positive implications for improved mental and physical wellbeing. There is a lot more to it than a handful of seed.

Darryl Jones is a professor of urban ecology at Griffith University in Australia. He has been investigating the many ways that people interact with nature – both positively and negatively – for over 30 years. This has involved studies of the impacts of urbanization on biodiversity as well as the reverse: the extremely successful invasion of urban areas by certain species. Most recently he has been interested in the many and complex dimensions of wild bird feeding which has been summarized in the book The Birds At My Table (Cornell, 2018).



0730 UTC | Virat Jolli @jollivirat
UTC 1200 | Biodiversity and Environmental Sustainability
UTC 1200 | (BEST), India

Citizen Science: a tool for promoting conservation of Himalayan birds, India

Citizen science project is initiated in Himalayas to generate baseline data for laying foundation for Himalayas bird monitoring program. Therefore, systematic bird count surveys are being carried out in Himalayan cities. The collected information will be used later to train youth in monitoring of birds of Himalayas, which can be used to assess the sustainability of Himalayan cities.

0745 UTC | Karen Hotopp @KarenHotopp
UTC 1200 | University of Glasgow & RSPB Scotland, UK

Citizen science and house sparrows: Public engagement to increase use of mass participation tools

Citizen science has become a common way of collecting large-scale data, with many projects now using electronic formats. Initially, the Glasgow House Sparrow Project worked with volunteers to conduct transect surveys, but we wanted to encourage higher participation from across Glasgow. Over the last year, the project had the opportunity to build two new engagement web-apps, each focused on a separate goal: one to teach about conservation measures including House Sparrow-friendly gardening and one to submit sparrow sightings. Here, I talk about our outreach campaign to encourage use of our new mass participation tools throughout greater Glasgow.



0800 UTC | Farah Ishtiaq @fishtiaq
UTC 1200 | @India_Alliance, India

Why should we study malaria in birds?

Global climate change is shifting the range of hosts and parasites at varying spatial and temporal scales- exposing host populations to longer transmission period, and increasing the risk of disease transmission to individuals without adaptive immunity. Most ecological studies of host-pathogen system are focused on single pathogens infecting a single host species. There is a paucity of data on multiple host systems with multiple pathogens or of multiple species of pathogen that infect single hosts. In the context of malaria, birds provide an ideal model system from a “One Health” perspective, to understand pathogen ecology and disease dynamics and help better model the links between climate change and health. Climate change is exacerbating the threat posed by avian malaria (Plasmodium spp.) by extending the area of suitable habitat for malaria-transmitting mosquitoes [e.g. Hawaii] and causing declines in almost 7% of globally threatened bird species. Therefore, identifying mechanisms that can mediate the spread of the disease could be crucial for both human health as well as wildlife conservation.

The degree to which vertebrate and invertebrate hosts in Himalayan region and along an elevational gradient are exposed to avian blood parasites needs immediate attention. Here, I discuss the impact of climate-change on vector species which may undergo a geographic range shift and increasing the risk of exposure of naive avian hosts to novel parasites.

Farah Ishtiaq is a Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance Intermediate Fellow at the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Her research explores the ecology and evolution of vector-borne diseases — the role of migration, host immunity, vector genetics, and climate change on malaria transmission in high-altitude Himalayan birds.

UTC 0830 | BREAK
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