Upcoming Programs

We are pleased to announce that Nuttall monthly meetings are back in person at Harvard.

Wendy Puryear--The changing landscape of influenza: the global situation, and its impact on birds of the North Atlantic

December 4, 2023

Scientist at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University

Wild birds, especially waterfowl, seabirds, and shorebirds, have long been considered the natural reservoir for Influenza A virus (IAV). The majority of IAV subtypes in wild birds are considered Low Pathogenicity Avian Influenza (LPAI) and cause little to no disease. High Pathogenicity Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 has recently entered into migratory wild birds and has proven to be significantly more lethal, wide spread, and species diverse, than any form of IAV to date. In the past two years HPAI has reached nearly all regions of the globe, decimated many wild bird populations, and spilled over into numerous mammalian species. In this presentation, I will discuss the overall ecology of IAV and update on the current situation with HPAI, how it has challenged what we thought we understood about IAV, and how it has impacted the species we see right here in the North Atlantic.

Wendy Puryear is a Scientist at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, studying how viruses are maintained, spread, and evolve in wild animals. She is especially interested in understanding the wide range of factors that impact infectious disease, from adaptations of the virus itself, to the impacts of environmental contaminants, shifting populations, and climate change. In the thick of winter, she spends much of her time organizing and conducting field work on seals off of Cape Cod, where the largest US pupping colonies of grey seals are located. Throughout the year, she works closely with wildlife professionals and stranding networks to look at wildlife ranging from birds to terrestrial and marine mammals. Back at the lab, she works to determine which viruses are circulating in the animals and tries to unravel how and why certain viruses persist. Her current research focus is primarily on Influenza, including the recent High Pathogenicity Avian Influenza, and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.


Nathan W. Cooper--Full annual cycle biology: Lessons from North America’s rarest songbird

January 8, 2024

Research Ecologist
Migratory Bird Center
Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute

Cooper will present his research on North America’s rarest songbird, the Kirtland’s Warbler. Over the past few decades, Kirtland’s Warblers have undergone a remarkable recovery, from just 167 males in the world in 1987 to more than 2200 males today. In addition to having a compelling conservation story, its small population size and restricted breeding and winter ranges provides a truly unique opportunity to learn more about the fascinating and interconnected annual cycles of songbirds. Cooper will take us on a journey through the annual cycle of the Kirtland’s Warbler and share what we have learned from this rare species.

Nathan Cooper is a behavioral ecologist and conservation biologist. He studies how migratory birds interact with each other and their environments throughout the annual cycle. He is primarily focused on the ecology and conservation of the Kirtland's Warbler, and is currently involved in several science- and conservation-based projects with this recently delisted species. Cooper earned a B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife from Michigan State University, a M.S. in Biology from Portland State University, and a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Tulane University. He first joined the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center as a Ph.D. student in 2008, and then was awarded both Predoctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowships there, before being promoted to Research Ecologist in 2020.


Nancy Chen--The complex consequences of dispersal in a fragmented landscape

February 5, 2024

Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, University of Rochester

The movement of individuals within and among populations is an important source of evolutionary change. Our understanding of the impact of individual movement on population dynamics and fitness is limited by our inability to directly measure dispersal distances and the reproductive success of immigrants, except in a few study systems. A long-term study of Federally Threatened Florida Scrub-Jays (Aphelocoma coerulescens) at Archbold Biological Station has identified all immigrants since 1990 and directly measured natal dispersal distances for hundreds of individuals, providing a unique opportunity to precisely measure the impact of dispersal on patterns of genetic variation over time and space. Using a 25-year genomic, phenotypic, and pedigree dataset, we disentangle the complex effects of dispersal into and within our study population on levels of genetic diversity and fitness in a fragmented landscape.

Dr. Nancy Chen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Rochester. Dr. Chen received her Ph.D. from Cornell University and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Davis. Research in her lab focuses on the genomic basis of contemporary evolution in natural populations. Her research integrates genomics and long-term demographic studies to characterize the evolutionary processes shaping patterns of variation across the genome through space and time and to link genetic variation to variation in individual phenotypes, fitness, and eventually population dynamics.




Daniel T. Ksepka--Penguins, Past and Present

April 1, 2024

Curator at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT

Penguins evolved more than 60 million years ago. The rich fossil record of these birds has revealed unexpected forms such as giant (300lb+) penguins, spear-billed penguins, and penguins with red and grey feathers. These fossils provide a window into how penguins adapted to changing environmental conditions such as drifting continents, reorganization of Southern Ocean currents, and the onset of glacial-interglacial cycles. Increasingly, scientists are combining fossil data with observations from living penguins to gain a synthetic understanding of penguin evolution. In 2022, the complete genomes of all living penguins were sequenced and calibrated with dates from fossils, providing once unimaginable insight into species boundaries, aquatic adaptations to everything from vision to metabolism, and population expansions and crashes during the last Ice Age.

Dr. Daniel T. Ksepka is a Curator at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT and also holds Research Associate positions at the American Museum of Natural History and the Field Museum of Natural History. Dr. Ksepka earned his BS from Rutgers University and a PhD from Columbia University. He has published over 70 peer-reviewed research articles as well as numerous popular articles for venues such as Scientific American and American Scientist. His research focuses on avian phylogeny and anatomy, with a special interest in penguins. Dr. Ksepka has collected penguin fossils in Peru and New Zealand, named 11 extinct penguins species including the 340lb giant penguin Kumimanu fordycei, and participated in the recent sequencing of the complete genomes of all 19 living penguin species.


Allison J. Shultz--Flashy feathers to microscopic mechanisms: How and why birds are colorful

May 6, 2024

Associate Curator, Ornithology, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Join Associate Curator of Ornithology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County as she delves into the world of feathers and their colors. During her talk, she will discuss why color needs to be studied from a bird's perspective rather a human one, and how different forces have shaped the multitude of colors and patterns that we observe today (including some that humans can't see!). She will end her talk by describing some of her current work on the mechanisms underlying the great diversity of colors in birds.

Dr. Allison Shultz is Associate Curator of the Ornithology Department at NHMLAC. With her research, she seeks to understand the evolution of bird diversity, focusing on two major areas: how birds are responding to human-caused environmental changes, and how and why bird colors evolve. Dr. Shultz received her PhD from Harvard University, MS from San Diego State University, and BA from the University of California, Berkeley. In addition to her research, Dr. Shultz is passionate about increasing diversity, inclusion, access, and equity in the sciences, and inspiring a love of nature in everyone.



Martin Wikelski--ICARUS – A new global IoT system for tracking movements of small migratory birds

June 3, 2024

Director, Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior

The collective wisdom of the Earth´s animals provides an immense bio-treasure of unprecedented information for humankind. Learning from animals in the ´Internet of Animals´ can help us predict natural catastrophes, forecast global zoonotic disease spreads or safeguard food resources while monitoring in situ every corner of the planet. The evolved senses of animals as well as technical sensors on animal-borne tracking tags enables local earth observations at highest spatial and temporal resolution. To protect and understand the ecosystem services provided by animals, we need to monitor individual animals seamlessly on a global scale. At the same time, these unprecedented life-history data of individual wild animals provide deep, novel insight into fundamental biological processes.

The ICARUS initiative, an international bottom-up, science-driven technology development of small, cheap and autonomous IoT (Internet of Things) sensing devices for animal movement and behavior is aiming towards this: wearables for wildlife. The resulting big data available in the open-source data base Movebank help understand, monitor, predict and protect life on our planet.

Martin Wikelski is the Director of the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior (formerly Ornithology) in Radolfzell (Germany), Professor in Biology at the University of Konstanz and member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Previously, he held positions at the University of Washington, Seattle, WA; Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama; University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Princeton University. His specialization is the study of global animal movement.




Past Programs

(NOC members, login to view and listen to presentations)

Ian Newton – Findings from a Long-term Study of Sparrowhawks

November 2, 2009

Dr. Ian Newton is respected world-wide both as a biologist with a special interest and expertise in this subject and as a communicator. He is a seasoned and popular key note speaker at National and International meetings, and his talks are often the high point of conferences. He has been interested in birds since boyhood,…

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Carla J. Dove – Bird-Aircraft Strike Hazards

October 5, 2009

Dr. Carla Dove is a Research Scientist in the Department of Ornithology at the National Museum of Natural History. Her expertise is in the field of microscopic and molecular identification of feathers. She applies forensic methodologies to determine species of birds from fragmentary evidence using microscopy, whole feather comparisons with museum specimens and DNA barcoding.…

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Navjot S. Sodhi – Southeast Asian Forest Birds: Losses, Threats and Conservation

June 1, 2009

Field problem presented: Glenn d’Entremont – Lack of Documentation, Quincy Christmas Count records Dr. Navjot S. Sodhi is currently a Professor of Conservation Ecology at the National University of Singapore. He received his PhD from the University of Saskatchewan. He has been studying the effects of rain forest loss and degradation on Southeast Asian fauna…

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François Vuilleumier – Ernst Mayr, Scientist and Mentor: Does One Live Up to Genius?

May 4, 2009

Field problem presented: David Small – Birds and Powerline Management in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont Francois Vuilleumier, acclaimed ornithologist and editor-in-chief of the new book Birds of North America, is Curator Emeritus of the Department of Ornithology at the American Museum of Natural History. Author and professor of ornithology Francois Vuilleumier was a student of Ernst…

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Nick Locke – REGUA—Reserva Ecológica Guapiaçu: A successful conservation project in the Atlantic rainforest of SE Brazil

April 6, 2009

Field problem presented: Kim Smith – Breeding Ecology of Early Successional Birds in Western Connecticut Nicholas Locke is president of the Guapiaçu Ecological Reserve (REGUA), located an hour and a half from the city of Rio de Janeiro. REGUA, a grassroots NGO, started in 1996 after a visit by a UK naturalist who saw the…

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Nicholas Rodenhouse – Effects of Climate Change on Migratory Birds

February 2, 2009

Field problem presented: Soheil Zendeh – Take a Second Look (TASL) Nicholas Rodenhouse is Professor of Biological Sciences at Wellesley College where he teaches ecology, organismal biology, conservation biology, and environmental studies. A member of the Wellesley College faculty since 1988, Professor Rodenhouse received a A.B. degree from Hope College in 1977 and an M.A. degree…

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Luis Segura – Argentina: 1000 Birds, and More

December 1, 2008

Field problem presented: Steve Mirick- Extreme Pelagic Birding Luis Segura has worked in ecotourism and conservation since 1982. He has volunteered in projects oriented to preserve natural ecosystems and wildlife species in his native country, Argentina. He is a member of the Argentine branch of Birdlife International, Asociación Ornitológica del Plata. In his home city, Puerto…

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Stephanie Koch – Shorebirds and People: Studying Seasonal Mudflat use at Monomoy NWR

November 3, 2008

Field problem presented: Vern Laux – Birdquest Stephanie Koch is working towards her PhD by doing research on shorebirds and these days she is soaring in rarified air because she is the only URI student to be awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation. In fact Dr. Peter Paton, chair of the CELS…

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Pamela Rasmussen – History and Mystery: Reevaluating Avian Diversity in South Asia

October 6, 2008

Field problem presented: Robert Kennedy – Nantucket Offshore Wintering Wildfowl: Possible Impacts from Offshore Sand Mining Dr. Pamela Rasmussen’s research focuses on the diversity, vocalizations, taxonomy, and conservation of the avifauna of southern Asia. She recently (2005) co-authored a two-volume book, Birds of South Asia: the Ripley Guide, published in April 2005. She has also worked…

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John Kricher – Speciation in Neotropical Passerines

June 2, 2008

Field problem presented: Michael Schindlinger – Listening to the Amazon Dr. John Kricher is professor of biology at Wheaton College where he has served on the faculty for nearly forty years. He received his B.A. from Temple University and his PhD from Rutgers. In addition to Nuttall, he is a member of a number of professional…

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Rob Williams – Avian Endemism in Peru

May 5, 2008

Field problem presented: Paul Roberts – Population studies of American Kestrel Rob Williams did his undergraduate work in zoology at the University of Wales in Cardiff. He obtained his doctorate at the University of East Anglia where he studied Long-eared Owls. In 1999 he moved to Ecuador where he has worked with a number of conservation…

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William E. (Ted) Davis – Tasmania: A Study in Evolution

April 7, 2008

Field problem presented: Ralph Andrews – Is the Canada Goose Canadian? Dr. William E. (Ted) Davis received his B.A. from Amherst University, his M.A. from the University of Texas and his PhD in invertebrate biology from Boston University. He developed a deep interest in birds and has over the years authored over 150 papers and notes…

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Edwin Scholes III – Courtship, evolution, and natural history of New Guinea’s Birds of Paradise

March 3, 2008

Field problem presented: David Larson – Training naturalist guides Ed Scholes III has been researching birds of paradise in New Guinea since 1999 when he made his first trip to Papua New Guinea, and he has returned for fieldwork each year since. Ed’s research interests are primarily on the evolution of the spectacular morphological and behavioral…

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Hiroyoshi “Hito” Higuchi – Ecology of bird migration in East Asia

February 4, 2008

Field problem presented: Wayne Petersen – Slaty-backed Gull: The next Lesser Black-backed Gull? Prof. Hiroyoshi “Hito” Higuchi is professor of conservation biology and ornithology at the Graduate School of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Tokyo; former president and Director of Research of the Ornithological Society of Japan; and chair of the Asian Section…

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Kim Bostwick – Evolution of wing sounds in the Manakins (Pipridae)

December 3, 2007

Field problem presented: David Donsker – What’s in a name? Dr. Kimberly S. Bostwick is Curator of Birds and Mammals at the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates and a Research Associate in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University in New York.

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John O’Neill – Recipe for peparing a guide to one of the largest avifaunas in the world: The case for Peru

November 5, 2007

Field problem presented: Tom French – Peregrine Falcon recovery in NY and NE Dr John P. O’Neill is research associate at the Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science. He is the discoverer of more bird species (13) new to science than any other living person. He is also a wildlife painter and coauthor of the…

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Ian Nisbet – From eggs to senescence: Long-term studies of Common Terns

October 1, 2007

Field problem presented: Peter Alden – Central and South American bird field guides Ian Nisbet, NOC member since 1975, is an independent tern researcher who has been the primary monitor for the Roseate Tern and Common Tern colonies in Buzzard’s Bay, particularly at Bird Island. Dr Nisbet was born in the UK and received his PhD…

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Richard O. Prum – The evolution of feathers

June 4, 2007

Field problem presented: Brian Cassie – Does Massachusetts end? Professor Richard Prum, Curator of Ornithology in the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History and Head Curator of Vertebrate Zoology, is an evolutionary ornithologist with broad interests in diverse topics, including phylogenetics, behavior, feathers, structural color, evolution and development, sexual selection, and historical biogeography. His recent research…

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Peter Vickery – Grasslands of the Americas

May 7, 2007

Field problem presented: Ron Lockwood – Grasshopper Sparrow demographics at Fort Devens After working for Massachusetts Audubon, Peter Vickery founded the Center for Ecological Research, a non-profit organization in Maine. It is devoted to conservation and ecological research. He is also on the faculties of University of Massachusetts and University of Maine. Peter did his PhD…

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Herb Raffaele – Saving Caribbean birds

April 2, 2007

Field problem presented: Ted Davis – Reporting bird behavior Dr. Herb Raffaele, Chief of the International Division of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, received his degrees in wildlife conservation and ecology from the State University of New York in 1983. He has published often on wildlife conservation and is responsible for the creation of education…

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