This collection of papers promotes the view that the bias inherent in much biological thinking about vagrancy is ill-founded: continuous wandering and exploration is the norm for mobile creatures, even the most extremely mobile: vagrant birds. Vagrants are neither genetically defective nor navigationally incompetent. We will show that vagrancy and exploration is broadly characteristic of birds and other organisms, is linked to population growth, range expansion, and speciation. It is important to study now because of its implications for understanding changes in range triggered by changing environmental conditions, especially climate. We draw heavily on data from birds, because of the relative ease with which birds can be studied and the consequent large databases available on movement by birds. We expand upon the avian examples and present evidence that the basic process of population growth coupled with dispersal is characteristic of organisms in general. We will show how vagrancy is statistically linked to population growth and density-dependent dispersal coupled with exploratory behavior. We will include data from passerines, waterfowl, tubenoses, boobies, and doves. We argue that vagrancy is the mechanism through which birds can access previously unoccupied habitats that become suitable due to changing climate.
2. A policy perspective on flyway conservation
Eduardo Gallo-cajiao, Evan Hamman, Jacques Trouvilliez, Spike Millington
Migratory birds require conservation that accounts for a network of sites from breeding, stopover, and non-breeding areas to complete their life cycles. This paradigm has led to wide adoption of a flyway approach to conserve waterbirds, songbirds, and raptors around the world since at least the 1930s. A variety of institutional and policy frameworks have been developed in different regions to operationalise the flyway approach. While flyways can be biologically understood as broadly discrete overlapping migratory ranges of closely related avian taxa, they define the spatial scales at which political action is needed for conservation enabling coordination and cooperation across multiple countries. Within a conservation context, flyways have so far been primarily studied from a biological standpoint, with research foci that include migration, population dynamics, site networks, and threatening processes. Conversely, the policy dimensions of flyway conservation have received scant attention, with only a few studies having focused on political processes and phenomena as a subject of empirical and theoretical enquiry. Questions from this research strand include: what can we learn from the various international frameworks and agreements for conserving migratory birds and flyways? Are those frameworks devised at the appropriate spatial scales matching migratory connectivity? Do those agreements include provisions for the actual threats driving population declines? Addressing this knowledge gap has the potential to inform strategies for improving flyway conservation, particularly if research integrates interdisciplinary approaches spanning ecology and political science.
3. Harnessing the power of natural history collections for modern ornithology
Martin Stervander, Alexander Bond, Allison Shultz
In a time of rapid technical advancement and global change—but also financial challenges and questioned raison d’être of natural history collections—we highlight the diverse and innovative ways in which museum bird collections can further our ornithological knowledge. While collections-based research traditionally is strongly associated with taxonomic questions, including the preservation of type specimens and the description of plumage variation and morphometrics, we review the state-of-the-art in broader applications of collections-based research, including:
1. The use of specimen data, distribution information, and stable isotope analyses in conservation biology.
2. Specimen-based conservation genomics, assessing current population genetic diversity as well as putting extinction events into context.
3. The detection of contemporary evolutionary responses, with regard to climate change and urban ecology.
4. Character evolution and the “extended specimen”, including 3D-imaging of hard parts and spectrometry of plumage colouration.
5. The use of historical DNA and high-throughput sequencing for phylogenomics and integrative taxonomy.
This review symposium will feature the increased potential that historical bird collections offer and emphasize their significance to a wide variety of ornithological research.
Camila Gomez: “The Colombia Resurvey Project: Assessing a century of changes in avian assemblages and documenting for the future”
Jessica Oswald: “Using ancient, historical, and modern DNA to study changes in avian diversity across the Holocene”
Brian Weeks: “The power and promise of specimen collections as windows into contemporary responses to global change”
Christopher Cooney: “Leveraging the power of museum collections to study the diversification of birds at global scales”
Andrés Cuervo: “Ongoing collecting and museomics empower the value of historical collections to shed light on the history of avifaunas on evolutionary scales and the Anthropocene”
The avian body is optimized for flight. All structures have evolved to be compact, or as light as possible, to compensate for the large mass of the flight apparatus, the pectoral muscle (motor) and feathers (propulsor). However, miniaturization of organs should not harm their functional quality. More remarkably, although reduced in size many avian organs, such as the brain, lungs, jaw apparatus, red blood corpuscles, etc., have achieved exceptional functional capacities. Even bird genomes have undergone selection for small size, yet birds can compete with mammalian analogs, for which morphological evolution was not as restrictive in mass ratio. Avian smaller structures are full of morphological tricks.
Keynote speakers will talk about the avian respiratory system, which combines a number of bioengineering inventions to provide unprecedented gas exchange efficiency in a small lung, the avian jaw apparatus, which provides a strong bite thanks to its kinetic structure that only looks weak, and the avian legs, which are the only organ that dares to compete with wings for muscle mass.
6. Adult sex ratios, mating systems, and conservation
Wolfgang Goymann, Robert Heinsohn
Eminent evolutionary biologists, including Charles Darwin and Ernst Mayr, noticed that the relative proportion of adult individuals of one sex can fluctuate and may lead to sexual selection, but they did not collect sufficient data nor develop theoretical concepts to link this variation to sex roles. Recently, sophisticated modelling approaches and comparative data have suggested that the adult sex ratio (ASR) influences mate acquisition, breeding systems, and sexual conflict. Further, the ASR also influences population dynamics, and a bias in the ASR reduces the effective population size. Even though this may have major implications for conservation, ASR is neglected by most studies and concepts in conservation biology. With our proposal, we would like to draw the attention of contributors and attendees to the potential significance of adult sex ratios for basic evolutionary ecology research as well as its potential implication for conservation practice.
In this pioneering symposium we would like to give a total of 7 speakers the opportunity to present their research on the relationship between ASR and mating systems and conservation in 12 min talks, followed by 3min of discussion. We have 3 confirmed speakers, the remaining 4 slots will be selected from abstracts submitted after the conference call.
Krisztina Kupan: “Offspring desertion with care: Flexible female care in a male-biased plover population”
Robert Heinsohn: “Adult sex ratio bias, shared paternity, and adaptive sex allocation in swift parrots: implications for individual fitness and conservation”
Wolfgang Goymann: “The origin of biased adult sex ratios in coucals and its consequences for life history and conservation”
7. Recent advances in understanding how birds see the world
Cynthia Tedore, Simon Potier
Vision is arguably the most important sensory modality in most birds, as it provides them with instantaneous information about objects both near and far away in the surrounding environment. Understanding similarities and differences in how diverse avian taxa see and perceive objects around them is thus of critical importance for developing hypotheses as to what information is available to birds and, in turn, may be relevant to their ecology, evolution, and conservation. The goal of this symposium is to highlight recent advances in understanding how birds see the world, including new data and methodologies for hypothesis generation and testing, and to provide examples of how avian vision is relevant to diverse areas of ornithological research, from foraging and predator avoidance to sexual signaling to migration and conservation.
Cynthia Tedore: “Multispectral imaging for more realistic representations and quantifications of ecologically-relevant color contrasts in natural environments”
Simon Potier: “Spatial and temporal resolution in birds: special consideration to raptors”
Steve Nowicki: “Do birds see rainbows? If so, why does it matter?”
Luke Tyrrell: “Through their eyes: how hummingbirds visually perceive their spatial environment”
Constance Blary: “Birds contrast sensitivity and wind turbines collision”
8. The opportunities of collaboration between ornithological research and research in avian veterinary medicine
Thomas N. Tully, Jr., Jalila Abu
This symposium will focus on the significant benefits of multidisciplinary collaboration between ornithological research and research in avian veterinary medicine. These two disciplines have developed in essence independently, and our symposium aims at being the first step to narrow this divide. The presentations proposed will provide an overview, examples, recommendations, and possibilities of ornithological research utilizing the collaboration of avian veterinary scientists.
This Review Symposium proposal includes the following presentations:
Branson W. Ritchie: “A global crisis – plasticosis – research results describing the known and unknown impact and effects to avian species”
M. Scott Echols: “Emerging imaging technology to visualize nerves and vasculature for application in avian research”
Glenn H. Olsen: “Multidisciplinary research on endangered avian species threatened by emerging and introduced pathogens”
Jalila Abu: “Collaborative research involving avian species in southeast Asia involving the challenges of environmental impact and emerging disease problems”
Thomas N. Tully, Jr.: “Veterinary collaboration in biological avian/ornithological research – examples to the inroads of opportunities and knowledge exchange”
9. Potential Solutions to addressing the Southeast Asian Bird Trade Crisis
Jessica Lee, Anuj Jain, Serene Chng
1) To raise the awareness by featuring the crisis around the Asian bird trade at an international platform
2) To encourage discussion around how we may best address the trade and its related issues, as well as knowledge-sharing activities, particularly practices from other parts of the globe
3) To build a global or international network and partnership that encourages cross-border collaboration and information-sharing
Asia, in particular southeast Asia, is a biodiversity hotspot home to thousands of bird species. Unfortunately, this unique diversity is threatened by hunting and trapping for trade. This includes the cage bird trade for pets, singing competitions and religious purposes, killing of wild birds for consumption, and the demand for parts. As a result, many species are facing catastrophic declines. This high demand is compounded by poor border control, as well as governance and enforcement issues. There is an immediate need to reverse the imminent extinction of Asian songbirds threatened by the illegal and unsustainable trapping for the trade and improve their conservation status. As a highly complex conservation challenge, with many different perspectives and challenges, a suite of solutions is required to adequately save the birds.
This topic is highly relevant as the overexploitation for trade is recognized to be one of the major drivers of extinction here; the bird trade has risen in prominence in the last number of years. Additionally, it involves a broad range of species from across the globe (apart from Asia), many of which face the similar threat of the widespread overexploitation for the bird trade in Southeast Asia and beyond. This symposium aims to share recent and upcoming interventions to tackle the challenge, ranging from site-based protection to behaviour change strategies, and invites discussion from the wider conservation and ornithological community on the application of such solutions.
Introduction – overview of the Southeast Asian Bird Trade
Addressing the online trade in birds – a regulatory perspective
Tackling demand reduction – the case of the Helmeted Hornbill in Asia
Flights of fancy? Understanding the drivers of demand behind the Singaporean bird trade
A bird in a cage – The human dynamics of the songbird trade in Java, Indonesia
Working with bird shop keepers – a holistic approach to tackling the songbird trade in Kalimantan, Indonesia
The Wallacean parrot trade
The inter-border trade – tracking the helmeted hornbill across Asia
Indo-Burma – The killing of wild birds for food