We are pleased to announce that Nuttall monthly meetings are back in person at Harvard.
Amber Roth - A 25-year journey to recover a rapidly declining forest songbird, the Golden-winged Warbler
March 6, 2023
Assistant Professor of Forest Wildlife Management, School of Forest Resources and the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology, University of Maine
Dr. Amber Roth began studying Golden-winged Warbler in 1998 as a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin. Little did she know then that this was the beginning of a long journey of research, monitoring, and conservation to aid this rapidly declining migratory forest species. Today she is leading a team of researchers to understand the factors driving Golden-winged Warbler distribution and demographics in order to improve interventions to recover the species.
Amber Roth is an Assistant Professor of Forest Wildlife Management in the School of Forest Resources and the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology at the University of Maine. She received her MS degree in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Wisconsin and her PhD degree in Forest Resources from Michigan Technological University. She is co-chair of the Golden-winged Warbler Working Group, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and is coordinator of the Midwest Migration Network. She has researched and conserved Golden-winged Warblers for 25 years. Her research interests include bird habitat-management relationships in temperate and tropical forests, migratory bird ecology, and demographics of declining wildlife species. Currently she leads a team of researchers seeking to understand the response of Golden-winged Warbler to climate and land use changes and identify key demographic factors driving the population decline.
Rebecca Jo Safran - The role of adaptation in phenotype divergence and speciation: an integrative and comparative perspective
April 3, 2023
Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado-Boulder
Evolutionary mechanisms lead to changes in the phenotypic and genomic features of populations; population genetics and patterns of phenotype differentiation are often used to infer which of these mechanisms are at work. Here, I highlight the need to more directly study the underlying processes and mechanistic basis of population-level patterns. Barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) are widespread throughout their northern hemisphere-wide breeding distribution with fascinating levels of morphological and behavioral divergence among six closely related populations. My lab studies the role of evolutionary mechanisms in shaping phenotype and genomic variation among populations in this young species complex. Experiments and selection studies within populations predict population-level differences in signaling traits and migratory behavior. Analyses within hybrid zones also reveal that differences in both signal and migratory traits are predictive of gene flow and the evolution of reproductive isolation among sub-species in secondary contact.
Dr. Rebecca (Becca) Safran is a Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado-Boulder, and co-director of Inside the Greenhouse for creative climate communication. As an evolutionary biologist, Becca’s interests are focused on the formation of new species with a special focus on one of the most widespread birds on planet earth: the barn swallow. Becca is passionate about social justice and belonging in STEM, a topic her research group has worked on collaboratively.
Pepper Trail - Fighting Crime with Feathers: The Casebook of a Forensic Ornithologist
May 1, 2023
Forensic Ornithologist for the US Fish and Wildlife Forensic Wildlife
Dr. Pepper Trail served as the senior forensic ornithologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement for over 20 years. During this time, he worked on over 2000 cases, identifying bird remains submitted as evidence in wildlife crime investigations. This evidence ranged from carved hornbill skulls to Harpy Eagle headdresses to oil-covered roadrunners to hummingbird love charms to live Indonesian songbirds. He also established The Feather Atlas of North American Birds, the leading website for feather identification. He will describe this unique career in a talk that is by turns entertaining and appalling, illustrating the vital role of wildlife law enforcement in bird conservation.
Pepper Trail grew up roaming the woods and fields of New York’s Finger Lakes region. His early interest in natural history led him to a biology major at Cornell University. He followed this with a Master’s degree from U.C. Davis for his research on the social behavior and ecology of Acorn Woodpeckers in the Chiricahua Mountains of Arizona. Trail returned to Cornell for his Ph.D., conducting a long-term field study of the spectacular Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock in Suriname, work that resulted in publications in National Geographic and Science. After research stints based in Panama, San Francisco, and American Samoa, Trail settled with his family in Oregon. From 1998 until his retirement in 2021, he was the senior ornithologist at the National Fish and Wildlife Forensic Laboratory, where he analyzed bird remains in wildlife crime cases, and created the Feather Atlas of North American Birds, the premier feather identification website. Trail was a founding board member of the Society for Wildlife Forensic Science and served on the wildlife subcommittee of the federal workforce to create forensic science standards. He is a Fellow of the American Ornithological Society and has authored more than forty papers in avian behavioral ecology, conservation, and forensics. A sought-after speaker, he provides conservation training and leads natural history tours around the world.
David Bonter - Public engagement in science: For birds, people, and conservation
June 5, 2023
Arthur A. Allen Director of Citizen Science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Studying birds provide a remarkable window into the coupling of natural and human systems. This presentation will explore what we have learned about birds and people through engaging the public in scientific research. With a focus on Project FeederWatch (www.feederwatch.org), a program with data from more than 12 million hours of observation, and NestWatch (www.nestwatch.org), a program with greater than 2.5 million visits to bird nests, we will share insights on changes in bird populations, range expansions, climate change, invasive species, and how watching birds affects people.
David Bonter is the Arthur A. Allen Director of Citizen Science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, where he serves as co-Director for the Center for Engagement in Science and Nature. He manages large-scale participatory science projects including Project FeederWatch and NestWatch, teaches field-based avian ecology courses at Cornell University, and takes great pride in mentoring a gaggle of undergraduate students through the independent research and publishing process. David is a former president of the Association of Field Ornithologists and is a fellow of the American Ornithological Society.
(NOC members, login to view and listen to presentations)
Brian Olsen – Adapting to Novelty: what tidal marsh birds can teach us about evolving to meet new challenges
Professor of Ornithology, University of Maine Tidal marshes of the Atlantic coast of North America are host to a suite of specialized bird taxa, but tidal marshes themselves are geological ephemeral and these taxa are the descendants of species from other ecosystems. Despite their various origins, tidal marsh colonizers share a suite of adaptations and…Read More
Steven C. Latta – No Fool’s Errand: A Search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Louisiana
Director of Conservation and Field Research, National Aviary in Pittsburgh The history of decline of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is long, complex, and controversial. The last widely accepted sighting of this species in continental North America was 1944. A collaboration between Project Principalis and the National Aviary has produced personal observations, sound recordings, trail camera photos,…Read More
Michael Romero – Stress in Birds
L. Michael Romero is Professor of Biology at Tufts University In contrast to stress-related disease in humans, the stress response is vital for helping wild birds survive in their natural habitats. I will present research showing that the hormonal and physiological responses to stress are important for birds to survive natural stressors such as storms,…Read More
Pete Marra – The Epic Migrations of Birds
Pete Marra is Director of the Earth Commons: Georgetown University’s Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Laudato Si’ Professor in Biology and the Environment, and Professor in the McCourt School of Public Policy Migration is one of the most engaging phenomena of the animal world and one epitomized by birds. Migratory birds are the Olympiads of…Read More
Bridget Stutchbury – Why Is Tropical Bird Behavior So Different?
Bridget Stutchbury is Professor in the Department of Biology at York University, Toronto Dr. Bridget Stutchbury explores why the tropics is a unique natural laboratory that has led to unusual and varied bird behavior compared with temperate-breeding species. A large majority of research on bird behavior has focussed on North American and European breeding birds,…Read More
Lauryn Benedict – Divas in the treetops: When and why do female birds sing?
Lauryn Benedict is Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Northern Colorado Female bird song is more common and widespread than is generally appreciated. In this presentation Dr. Lauryn Benedict will give an overview of female bird song prevalence and variety. She will discuss what we can learn by studying the songs of female…Read More
Allan Strong: The Bobolink Project: Payments for Ecosystem Services to Conserve Grassland Birds
Dr. Allan Strong is a Professor in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont. In response to continent-wide population declines in the suite of birds that nest in agricultural habitats, we initiated a payment for ecosystem services program called The Bobolink Project. Beginning in Rhode Island and expanding to…Read More
Tim Birkhead – How we know what we know about birds
Tim Birkhead is a Fellow of the Royal Society and emeritus professor of behaviour and evolution at the University of Sheffield We take so much for granted when it comes to birds, but where did our knowledge come from? Although people had been intrigued by birds since the palaeolithic, it was only with the scientific…Read More
Autumn-Lynn Harrison – Uniting across hemispheres to discover unknown migratory pathways of birds: Advancing scientific knowledge and translating to conservation
Dr. Autumn-Lynn Harrison is a research ecologist at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and is the program manager of the Migratory Connectivity Project Join Dr. Autumn-Lynn Harrison, a marine ecologist with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, as she shares results from two hemispheric-scale tracking projects, and how the data have been translated into global policy…Read More
Daniel Field – The Dinosaur Resurrection: How the Demise of the Dinosaurs Paved the Way for the Origin of Modern Birds
Daniel Field is a lecturer in the Earth Sciences Department at Cambridge, and the Strickland Curator of Ornithology at the University of Cambridge Museum of Zoology Modern birds are the most diverse group of terrestrial vertebrate animals, comprising nearly 11,000 living species. They inhabit virtually every corner of the modern world, and exhibit a mind-boggling…Read More
Barbara Vickery and Scott Weidensaul – Birds of Maine: A Life’s Legacy
Barbara Vickery and Scott Weidensaul co-edited Birds of Maine Written by the late Peter Vickery in cooperation with a distinguished team of co-authors and editors, the recently published Birds of Maine is the first comprehensive overview of Maine’s rich birdlife in 70 years. Peter, elected to NOC in 1984, spent much of his career focusing…Read More
Jonathan Slaght – Owls of the Eastern Ice: Blakiston’s Fish Owl Conservation in Russia
Jonathan Slaght is the Russia & Northeast Asia Coordinator for the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) From 2006-2010, Jonathan Slaght studied Blakiston’s fish owls in Russia for his PhD degree in Wildlife Conservation at the University of Minnesota. These enormous and endangered salmon-eaters live in some of the hardest-to-reach corners of northeast Asia, on…Read More
Mary Caswell Stoddard – Colorful birds, exquisite eggshells, and other avian adventures
Mary Caswell Stoddard (Cassie) is an associate professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University Birds evolved about 150 million years ago, and today they are the most diverse and colorful land vertebrates. In my group, we are fascinated by the ecological and evolutionary processes that contribute to avian diversity. In…Read More
Sarah Knutie – Finch in a pinch: effects of environmental change on endemic birds in the Galapagos Islands
Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Faculty Affiliate University of Connecticut Institute for Systems Geonomics The overarching theme of the Knutie Lab is to understand how birds defend themselves against disease-causing parasites, particularly in response to environmental change. Her talk will take us to the Galapagos Islands, where she uses experimental field studies…Read More
Gail Patricelli – Robots, Telemetry, and the Sex Lives of Wild Birds using technology to study and protect an enigmatic bird
Professor, Department of Evolution and Ecology University of California, Davis Animals use a dizzying array of sounds, smells, colors, dances, electrical fields and seismic vibrations to convince each other to mate. These elaborate courtship signals were a mystery until Darwin’s time—after proposing his theory of natural selection, Darwin was left with the question of how…Read More
Jennie Duberstein – Working across borders to conserve birds and habitats in the southwest US and northwest Mexico
Sonoran Joint Venture Coordinator U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service The southwest United States and northwest Mexico is a region of incredible biological diversity, as well as human diversity. Birds and habitats don’t recognize international boundaries, and neither can our efforts to conserve then. Successful conservation requires cross-border collaboration that takes into account not just the…Read More
Gabrielle Nevitt – Following the scent of avian olfaction
Professor in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior at UC Davis When John James Audubon proclaimed that birds lacked a sense of smell, the study of avian olfaction was doomed to suffer ridicule by ornithology text books for years to come. In recent years, ornithologists have renewed their interest into the sense of smell…Read More
Tomas Carlo – Effects of avian frugivory in the structure and resilience of plant communities
Associate Professor of Biology & Ecology at Penn State University and associate researcher in the ecology department at the Museo de Historia Natural of the San Marcos National University in Lima, Peru Migratory bird populations are undergoing rapid changes at present. Shifts in the timing of migration and breeding, and in range and abundance, are…Read More
Jennifer Gill – Space, time and bird migration: shifting systems in a changing world
Professor of Applied Ecology at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, UK Migratory bird populations are undergoing rapid changes at present. Shifts in the timing of migration and breeding, and in range and abundance, are being reported in migratory systems across the globe. However, how and why these changes are happening remains unclear.…Read More
Pat Jodice – Searching Sea and Land for the Little Devil: The Ecology and Conservation of the Black-capped Petrel
Leader, U.S. Geological Survey South Carolina Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit and Professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation at Clemson University The Black-capped Petrel or Diablotin, Pterodroma hasitata, is an endangered seabird endemic to the western North Atlantic. Once thought extinct it was rediscovered in 1963 when nests were located in…Read More