We are pleased to announce that Nuttall monthly meetings are back in person at Harvard.
L. Michael Romero - Stress in Birds
December 5, 2022
Professor of Biology, 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, predation attempts, and starvation. The stress response may also show us how birds cope with human-created changes in their habitats.
Michael Romero, Professor of Biology at Tufts University, has studied stress for almost 40 years. He combines laboratory and field work to discover what causes stress in wild animals, what physiological and endocrinological responses are elicited, and how those responses help wild animals survive in their native habitats. A special focus is on how understanding stress can help in the conservation of species at risk from human activities. Although he has worked with over 100 different species, the majority of his work has focused on wild birds. Prof. Romero recently summarized the work in this field in a book he co-wrote with John Wingfield entitled: “Tempests, Poxes, Predators, and People: Stress in Wild Animals and How They Cope.”
Steven C. Latta - No Fool’s Errand: A Search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Louisiana
January 9, 2023
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, and drone videos suggesting the consistent presence of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers at our study site in Louisiana. Data indicate repeated re-use of foraging sites and core habitat. I will present some of these data, offer insights into behaviors of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker that contribute to difficulty in finding this species, and discuss some promising avenues for future research.
Steven C. Latta is Director of Conservation and Field Research at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh. A native of Northern Michigan, he was educated at Kalamazoo College, the University of Michigan, and University of Missouri. After serving for 4 years as Director of the Latin American Program at Point Reyes Bird Observatory, he came to the National Aviary in 2006. Latta works extensively on Hispaniola, and across the Caribbean islands and Latin America, where his research has focused on understanding how migrant and resident species respond to natural and anthropogenic changes to habitat. He has used the Louisiana Waterthrush as a model species to study population dynamics and carry-over effects on both the temperate breeding and Neotropical over-wintering grounds. He is also using this species to understand the impact on birds of important water quality management issues including acid mine drainage and the use of hydraulic fracturing to access natural gas deposits. In 2019, he began a collaboration with Project Principalis in a search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Louisiana.
(NOC members, login to view and listen to presentations)
America’s warblers, jays and all other songbirds on earth can be traced back to an origin in Australia. Genetic, fossil and anatomical evidence all point to this conclusion, which is now consensus science. As befits their very long residence, songbirds in Australia are exceptionally diverse in behaviours, with bowerbirds collecting plastic, magpies blinding children, choughs…Read More
Senior Vice President, Research & Collections Gretchen Augustyn Director, Dinosaur Institute Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County A tremendous amount of new fossils of early birds from the Age of the Dinosaurs has been unearthed in the last few decades. In his lecture, Dr. Chiappe will review the many new discoveries related to the…Read More
Assistant Professor, Molecular and Cell Biology University of Connecticut Microorganisms have existed on this planet for billions of years. They have shaped our world in countless important ways. How have microorganisms affected animal evolution? Birds are a globally important clade of animals that are essential components to nearly all terrestrial and many aquatic ecosystems. Their…Read More
David Lank – Competition, cooperation, and deceit among three male morphs of ruffs and the females that choose to mate with them: is this the most complex avian mating system?
University Research Associate Simon Fraser University Ruffs (Philomachus [or Calidris, if you prefer] pugnax) have the most complex mating system of any bird in the world. Three genetically distinct types of males, with different morphologies and mating strategies, attempt to mate at leks with as many females as possible. Most highly ornamented males fight, but…Read More
Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University The suboscines passerines represent almost 15% of the world’s avifauna. One in three Neotropical bird species is a suboscine, making this the perfect group to examine the origins of tropical biodiversity. Many species are widely distributed and can occur in various habitats, whereas others are geographically restricted and exhibit…Read More
Emeritus Professor of Wildlife Biology McGill University Small unmanned vehicle systems (UVS), sometimes referred to as “drones” and formerly exclusive to militaries, are rapidly advancing in sophistication and availability to civilians. Ranging from hand-launched autonomous airplanes to terrestrial robots to underwater machines, they are increasingly being employed in such areas as agriculture, emergency services, meteorology,…Read More
Professor and Robert B. Berry Distinguished Chair in Ecology University of Wyoming After providing an overview of the patterns and processes driving crossbill diversification, this talk will focus on the premating reproductive isolating barriers contributing to speciation in crossbills. Crossbill are interesting in this regard because many crossbill taxa have diverged recently (<11,000 years ago)…Read More
Crows are mischievous, playful, social, and passionate. They have brains that are huge for their body size and exhibit an avian kind of eloquence. They mate for life and associate with relatives and neighbors for years. And because they often live near people—in our gardens, parks, and cities—they are also keenly aware of our peculiarities, staying away…Read More
Recent advances in wildlife tracking technologies now make it possible to track movements of small-bodied birds at unprecedented scales. Since 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and partners have deployed miniaturized transmitters on hundreds of seabirds (Common and Roseate Terns) and shorebirds (Piping Plovers and Red Knots) in the northeastern U.S. and Canada. This…Read More
Emily DuVal – Dancing Birds, Sexual Selection, and the Evolution of Cooperation in a Tropical Forest
Males of many species engage in fierce competition for mates. That competition can take the form of intense battles with rivals or flashy displays that attract females, but in just a few species, males do something truly unusual: instead of competing, they cooperate. Male lance-tailed manakins form long-terms two-male partnerships and display together for females,…Read More
Richard Prum – Mate Choice, Sexual Conflict, and Sexual Autonomy: Everything you ever wanted to know about duck sex, but were afraid to ask
Mate choice is well appreciated mechanism in the evolution of avian ornaments. However, sexual coercion and sexual violence can also influence avian breeding systems, leading to sexual conflict. This talk will explore sexual conflict in waterfowl, bowerbirds, and lek evolution. The conclusion is that freedom of choice matters to birds. Sexual autonomy actively evolves in…Read More
Matthew Kamm – Avian Real Estate in a Buyer’s Market: What Nest Box Programs Can Tell Us About American Kestrels
American Kestrels (Falco sparverius) are North America’s smallest raptor species. Once regarded as the most common raptor in America, kestrels have been declining across many parts of their large range over the past decades. Nest box programs aimed at addressing the limited breeding habitat for this species have popped up all across the continent, yet…Read More
Dr. Katharine Parsons – Piping Plover Protection in Massachusetts: Recovering Populations and Facing Climate Change
Begun in 1987, Mass Audubon’s Coastal Waterbird Program (CWP) annually monitors Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) nesting activity and protects habitat at 195 beach sites along 260 km of Massachusetts’ coastline. Nesting at these locations are approximately 220 pairs of plovers—a third of the Massachusetts population listed as “threatened” under state and federal endangered species laws. …Read More
Dr. Edward O. Wilson – Half Earth: A plea to save 50% of our lands and oceans for humans and biodiversity
Dr. Wilson will be flanked by Peter Alden who will introduce him and guide a lively Q&A from Nuttall and audience members. Dr. Robert Ridgely will end with a short, illustrated presentation on the history of the Cordillera Azul Antbird recently named for Dr. Wilson. Edward O. Wilson is recognized as one of the creators…Read More
Dr. David Mizrahi – Connecting the Dots: Understanding Dramatic Declines in a Widespread Migratory Shorebird
Dr. Mizrahi will review 20 years of research to unravel connectivity in Semipalmated Sandpipers populations throughout the annual cycle and determine what factors during the winter, migration and breeding periods underlie significant declines in populations, especially those migrating through the Western Atlantic region. He will also discuss conservation efforts that address several of the major…Read More
Dr. Nils Warnock – Wings over borders – migration and conservation of shorebirds around the Pacific Basin
Nils will talk about the migration and conservation of shorebirds around the Pacific Basin, focusing on studies he and collaborators have done over the past 30 years. His initial research focused on the migration of small shorebirds like the Western Sandpiper and the Dunlin through western North America. More recent work looked at large-scale movements…Read More
Dr. Geoffrey Hill – Speciation and Sexual Selection as processes to maintain Mitronuclear Coadaptation
Eukaryoic performance hinges on the coordinated function of the products of the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes in achieving oxidative phosphorylation. Because two genomes are involved, function is maintained only through perpetual selection for mitonuclear coadaptation. He will discuss how these fundamental features of the genomic architecture of eukaryotes results in both pre-and post-zygotic sorting for…Read More
The Hawaiian Islands have experienced waves of avian extinctions during Polynesian and European colonization, becoming a hotspot for the loss of bird species. Although the plight of Hawaiian forest birds is well known, conservation issues surrounding Hawaiian waterbirds and the wetlands that support them are less well understood. This presentation integrates the full research of…Read More
Persecuted for years as a robber of game, as attitudes have slowly changed and over the past 50 years, Northern Goshawks have expanded their breeding range and increased their population size in the Northeastern U. S., including the Central Appalachians. Since 1977 Dave Brinker has studied goshawks in both Northeastern Wisconsin and the Central Appalachian…Read More
In eight groups of animals, including humans and songbirds, young animals learn to vocalize by listening to adults. Experimental evidence from laboratory studies supports this hypothesis for vocal learning, however there is no experimental evidence of vocal learning in wild animals. Dr. Mennill developed an innovative playback technology to simulate vocal tutors in the wild.…Read More