AOU/COS/SOC meeting 2014, Estes Park, CO


Hi folks,


Morning view from the lodge

An update from the joint AOU/COS/SOC meeting in Estes Park, Colorado. Main points in order of importance 🙂


View from the meeting hall

Absolutely amazing setting! Surrounded by scenic Rocky Mountain peaks, elk and deer in the compound area and nice birds around (and yes Franklin’s gull). Good walking (but miss skating!)Many good friends including during a nice bird band jam sampling plenty of local beer. Greetings from Emily and Jess by the way!

American yellow-billed cuckoo migration researchers were happy to collaborate, they had already gotten geolocators back and had now deployed pinpoint GPS! Discussed setting-up of a rarity tracking study there similar to the one on the Faroes. Also well suited for physiological studies; maybe sabbatical!?

BML cuckoo poster with very little text

BML cuckoo poster with very little text

My poster has an absolutely minimal amount of text; those interested got a personal introduction.

The scientific program included 2 hours of speed talks by early carrier scientists; four minutes forty seconds presentations with automatic advancing slides, so no extension possible; the best session so far, super enthusiastic presenters and very engaging!

AY Badyaev presented a thought provoking plenary, discussing how early non-avian acquisitions constrain the evolution of birds…

Lots of high quality presentations with migration well represented. Many talks focused on primary productivity as driver of migration patterns. eBird data was used many times to infer phenology, etc.

Main take-home message from AOU (R Diehl): we will soon have complete knowledge so that we don’t need to understand what the birds are doing to predict; instead we will know in real-time what they are doing, analogous to meteorology and weather forecasting!

Some highlights:

  • Impressive work on Avian flu from Asia/China. Migratory birds are both victims and vectors of Avian Influenza, In East Asia, outbreaks not correlated with occurrence of migratory birds (but poultry); In Central Asia, they are (Choi CY)
  • Shorebirds assess habitat quality at the landscape scale; fewer birds stop over in bad years but fly further north (Gillespie CR)
  • Capture-mark-recapture studies can know deal with changes in state of residents and transients (Ruiz-Gutierrez V). Also, be careful with including trends in survival estimates (they are confounded by recovery probability and remember to mark many adults when you want to estimate juvenile survival (Arnold TW)
  • Many studies dealing with migration ecology: food deprivation causes later departure, no extension of home-ranges but increased fat deposition traded off against lower muscle mass (Cooper NW), shorter-distance migrants had higher winter mortality but lower migration mortality than longer-distance migrants(Olsen BJ), Floaters affect survival in territorial individuals negatively (Peele AM)
  • Migration and genes: no correlation with candidate genes, ADCYAP1 and CLOCK in painted buntings (Contina AJ), gene expression/RNA-sequencing in Swainson’s thrush more promising (Johnston RA)
  • Mosquito spatio-temporal dynamics are complex and almost unstudied! (Sehgal RN)
  • Coffee plantations in Kenya: Insectivores are missing both in shade and sun farms. However, insects in general are missing in contrast to the Neotropics. They use exotic shade trees in Africa again in contrast to the Neotropics (Milligan M).
  • E Cohen presented a metric on migratory connectivity. Probably useful in the future!
  • Long sea-crossings can be identified in geolocator data from lack of feather covering (Heckscher CM)
  • Moult detour in painted buntings can be modelled based on EVI and EVI change (Bridge E)




















Sound impressions:





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