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)
David Brinker – Rise and Fall of Northern Goshawks in the Central Appalachian Mountains
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
Dr. Daniel Mennill – Wild birds learn to sing from experimental vocal tutors
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
Dr. Richard (Rob) Bierregaard – Tracking Ospreys in the Age of Silicon: Migration, Ecology, and Conservation
When, in the mid 1990s, technological advances permitted us to build radio transmitters capable of sending signals to satellites orbiting the earth and small enough to place on an Osprey, windows into their lives away from the nest were thrown wide open. Thanks to bird band recoveries, we already knew that most North American Ospreys…Read More
Dr. Jonathan Regosin – Thirty Years of Piping Plover Conservation and Management in Massachusetts: Long-term Trends and Recent Developments
The Piping Plover is a state and federally threatened shorebird, with about 10,000 adults remaining, worldwide. Massachusetts has an important role to play in Piping Plover conservation, accounting for approximately 40% of the Piping Plovers breeding on the Atlantic Coast. The speaker will review 30 years of progress in Piping Plover conservation and research, challenges…Read More
Dr. Amanda Rodewald – A Bird’s Eye View of Nature in the City
With urban land expected to triple between 2000-2030, understanding the ecology of cities is sorely needed to safeguard ecosystem services, biodiversity, and our own well-being. One common target of urban conservation is birds, owing to both their charisma and sensitivity to environmental change. Though urban development is a real threat to birds across all ecosystem…Read More
Dr. James van Remsen – The cavalcade of discovery of new species and genera of South American bird … and how long will it continue?
In the 1950s, Ernst Mayr said that the age of discovery of new species of birds had largely ended. Since then, at least 125 new species of birds have been discovered in South America alone, including more than 40 by the LSU Museum of Natural Science. This represents an increase in species richness of about…Read More
Dr. Joel Cracraft – How many “kinds” of birds are there on Earth: the intersection of science and conservation policy
Scientists have long debated the idea of species, and these different conceptions have impacted the way we understand how birds evolved. These debates have also influenced people’s views of avian diversity as well as avian conservation policy. This talk will lay out these debates and show how they have real-world consequences for conserving global avian…Read More
Frank Gill – Bird Species Taxonomy: Then and Now
Major changes in world bird taxonomy are underway, driven by advances in speciation concepts and practices. World bird lists are challenged to keep up with the surge in the number of species recognized, together with their nomenclature and phylogeny. Birders are challenged to keep up with the lumps, splits, name changes, and sequences. This talk…Read More
Dr. Aevar Petersen – Icelandic birds, mainly seabird population changes
The talk will focus on three main issues; (1) introduction to the Icelandic bird fauna; (2) seabirds and factors influencing population changes; and (3) seabird monitoring as a conservation tool. The breeding bird fauna of Iceland has rather few species, about 80, but this is made up in numbers. The principal bird groups are anseriform…Read More
Dr. Leonardo Campagna – The genetic basis of plumage differences in the rapid capuchino seedeater radiation
As an evolutionary biologist I seek to understand how biological diversity is generated at the molecular level. I study a group of South American birds known as capuchino seedeaters, which may still be in the process of becoming species. Capuchinos are sexually dimorphic, and males from different species differ in secondary sexual characters such as…Read More
Lorna J. Gibson – Built to Peck: How Woodpeckers Avoid Brain Injury
Woodpeckers peck on trees to feed on insects and sap, to build cavity nests and to drum during courtship. Measurements by a group of neurologists in the 1970s, using high speed video, indicate that woodpeckers can tolerate remarkably high decelerations on impact: up to 1500g, much higher than the level of 100g that causes brain…Read More
Michael D. Sorenson – Contrasting Patterns of Genetic Divergence in Obligate Brood Parasites: Implications for the Genetics of Host-Specific Adaptation
Avian brood parasites and their hosts have served as important models of coevolution and have produced a spectacular diversity of behavioral, morphological and physiological adaptations and counter-adaptations, our knowledge of which has expanded as additional species in Asia and the southern hemisphere have received intensive study. Until recently, essentially nothing was known about the genetic…Read More
Tom Sayers – Rebuilding Local Populations of the American Kestrel – One Box at a Time
This presentation focuses on Tom’s energetic crusade to rebuild the American Kestrel population in northeast Connecticut, from 2009 when he began, up through the 2016 breeding season. Presented on January 9, 2017.Read More
Christopher Elphick – Canaries in the Salt Marsh: The Conservation of Saltmarsh Sparrows and other Tidal Marsh Birds
This talk describes the status of tidal marsh birds throughout the northeast, and focuses on the specific threats faced by Saltmarsh Sparrows. Presented on December 5, 2016.Read More
José Antonio Balderrama Torrico – Endemic and Endangered Birds of Bolivia
Endemic and Endangered Birds of Bolivia. Presented November 7, 2016.Read More
Sundev Gombobaatar – Bird Research, Conservation and Birding in Mongolia
Dr. Gombobaatar’s presentation covers a brief introduction to Mongolia and bird distribution in different natural habitats, species status and richness, bird research and conservation works, including Regional bird red list and conservation action plans, migration pattern, population threats, birds in wind farms, raptor breeding ecology survey, birding activities, and future actions for Mongolian bird research and conservation. Presented on October 3, 2016.Read More
Scott Edwards, PhD – Research and Teaching Ornithology at Harvard: Explorations in the New World
Research and Teaching Ornithology at Harvard: Explorations in the New World. Presented on June 6, 2016.Read More
Vincent Spagnuolo – Restore the call: Recent advancements in Common Loon conservation through translocation and health research
Recent advancements in Common Loon conservation through translocation and health research. Presented on May 2, 2016.Read More
Ken Meyer – Seasonal Movements of Rare Florida Raptors: Ecological Intrigue and Conservation Challenges
Seasonal movements and ecology of rare Florida raptors: needs and opportunities for protecting Crested Caracaras, Snail Kites, Short-tailed Hawks, and Swallow-tailed Kites. Presented on March 7, 2016.Read More
John Bates – The Wonders and Tribulations of Africa’s Albertine Rift: Biodiversity, Science and People in a War Zone
The Wonders and Tribulations of Africa’s Albertine Rift: Biodiversity, Science and People in a War Zone. Presented on February 1, 2016.Read More