Wednesday, July 15, 2015



Symposium: Offshore wind power and birds.
Chairs: Wing Goodale and Iain Stenhouse

Symposium: Updates on Loon ecology and conservation.
Chair: Jim Paruk

Contributed paper session. Shorebird migration.
Chair: Caz Taylor
Contributed paper session: Conservation.
Chair: Katherine Parsons


Jennifer Arnold and Stephen Oswald, Pennsylvania State University (Berks campus) 

Abstract: Interregional comparisons of Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) ecology and life history: The tools, the data, and implications for conservation and management
Motivated by declining populations in the North American Great Lakes, we have intensively studied breeding colonies of Common Terns in Lake Ontario and across the region since 2008. Discovering unanticipated differences in ecology and life history of species at inland colonies, we also undertook studies of regional population genetics and pioneered an expedition to assess the status and ecology of supposed large inland populations in the lakes of Manitoba. Here we report comparative ecological and demographic studies between Common Terns nesting in inland North America and those from coastal colonies of North America and Europe. We present novel findings for age at first reproduction, population structure, condition-specific survival, breeding success, chick development, habitat selection, and responses to heat stress, disease, predation and human disturbance. In the process, we detail a range of novel and remote field technology for waterbird research that we developed to minimize researcher disturbance and obtain difficult-to-get data. These include automated perches for resighting of banded birds without need for trapping or handling, leg-mounted temperature sensors to quantify thermal stress and behavior at the microhabitat level, and nest-based temperature and heart-rate monitors to elucidate the behavioral and physiological impacts of disturbance. Our results are put in the context of appropriate conservation strategies and how management approaches can and should be tailored to account for site specific differences and intraspecific variability across regions. 

The current version of the Scientific Program for the meeting can be found here: DraftProgram07122015

Tuesday, July 14, 2015



Symposium: Recent advances in biology and management of Double-crested Cormorants.
Chairs: Chip Weseloh, Linda Wires, Susan Elbin

Symposium: Behavior and Conservation. 
Chair: Brian Palestis

Contributed Paper Session. Waterbird breeding and habitat use.
Chair: Lianne Koczur

Bill Montevecchi, Memorial University of Newfoundland 
Abstract: Big Oil, Big Ocean, Big Questions.
Public transparency and environmental information are prerequisite for citizen awareness and understanding and for conservation considerations. Yet, in the world’s oceans, restricted, filtered and distorted information from multi-national hydro-carbon corporations and developmentally- conflicted regulatory regimes preclude adequate assessment of seabird mortality, platform pollution and disturbance. Lack of public environmental information creates Type II Error scenarios in which no information is interpreted as no problem, when in fact there is simply no information, or worse distorted information. In the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, the Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board prevents access to environmental information which the public and independent scientists should be entitled. Examples of these design failures and information distortion will be presented with recommendations for improved seabird monitoring, research and marine conservation. 

Poster session

The current version of the Scientific Program for the meeting can be found here: DraftProgram07122015

Monday, July 13, 2015



Symposium: Biology of the American Oystercatcher.
Chair: T. Simons

Symposium: Aquatic Passerines: The Youngest Waterbirds.
Chair: K. Ruskin

Contributed Paper Session: Waterbird movements.
Chair: P. Jodice
Contributed Paper Session: Demography and foraging.
Chair: David Shealer
Contributed Paper Session: Conservation.
Chair: Scott Demers

Bruno Ens. Sovon Dutch Centre for Field Ornithology 

Abstract: The contribution of long-term studies of Oystercatchers to science and conservation.

The behavioural choices of individuals, like recruitment, risk-taking and feeding of nestlings, determine demographic rates and thus population processes. At the same time, the costs and benefits of particular behavioural choices depend on these population processes. It is from this Darwinian perspective that I have been studying the behavioural ecology and population dynamics of Eurasian Oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus for the last 35 years. The Oystercatcher is a very good study species because it is a large bird living in an open habitat where it feeds on relatively large prey that can be monitored with little effort. The birds are easily marked and their high site fidelity allows the social career of individuals to be followed throughout their lives. However, the longevity of the species (it may live over 40 years) means that it requires perseverance to obtain the necessary measurements, i.e. keep the population study running. During winter, individuals compete for food. During summer, individuals compete for high quality territories and high quality mates. We understand much about the social career during the breeding season and the social career during the nonbreeding season, but we know very little about how these two careers are linked.

As I now see it, the aim is to unify three partial descriptions of Oystercatcher society in terms of competition, each accompanied by their own body of theory: Distribution theories describe the access of individual animals to limiting resources in space. Life-history theory describes the access of individual animals to limiting resources in the course of their life, and how these resources are  allocated to survival and reproduction Mating systems theory describes the access of individual animals to partners as a resource limiting reproduction. The queue model, which postulates a trade-off for nonbreeders between settling at an early age in a poor quality territory and at a later age in a high quality territory, links distribution theory to life-history theory. The initial queue model, where it was assumed that there were no major differences between individuals was proven wrong: chicks from high quality territories have a much higher chance to recruit into high quality territories compared to chicks from low quality territories. This silver-spoon effect has a long-term impact on fitness that increases over generations.

A major challenge to our current efforts to further improve the queue model is that the world is changing. The long-term population study on Schiermonnikoog shows that the expected increase in mean winter temperature will halt the current population decline, as does the expected decrease in variability in temperature. However, changing wind patterns have led to an increase in the risk of flooding during the breeding season, which offsets the expected benefit of warmer winters. Our long-term population is not the only one in decline: nearly everywhere in the Netherlands wintering and breeding populations are declining at an alarming rate since the late 1980s. A multitude of causes have been identified. In summer these include agricultural intensification (inland breeding populations), increased flooding during the breeding season (saltmarsh breeding populations) and increased predation (mainland saltmarshes). In winter, when all birds depend on tidal flats, these include: shellfish fishery, erosion of tidal flats (Oosterschelde) and colonization of mussel beds by the introduced Pacific oyster. Our aim is to construct a metapopulation model to assess the relative contribution and cumulative impact of all these factors on the population decline. For this, we rely heavily on citizen science, where we initiated volunteers to set up colour marking programs throughout the Netherlands, and developed a website where volunteer observers could input their observations of colour-marked individuals.

The current version of the Scientific Program for the meeting can be found here: DraftProgram07122015