CB students Sarah Saunders and Gopi Sundar recently traveled to Annapolis, Maryland (along with other UMN students Linda Wires, Jennifer Stucker, and Kate Wyman) to present talks at the Waterbird Society’s 35th Annual Meeting. Both received awards. Here are the highlights:
Annapolis (photo by Sarah Saunders)
In early November, I attended the The Waterbird Society 35th Annual Meeting in Annapolis, Maryland. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet and connect with waterbird and shorebird professionals and learn about the most recent research in the field. Symposia at the meeting featured talks on Oystercatchers, the impacts of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill on waterbirds, and conservation of Reddish Egrets, among others.
At the meeting, I learned a great deal about various waterbirds of which I was unfamiliar as well as new ornithological field methodologies. By speaking with some of the presenters one-on-one, I was able to learn more about their individual research topics as well as share information about my work. At the meeting, I gave an oral presentation entitled “Female Site Familiarity Increases Fledging Success in Piping Plovers.” The abstract is provided below. This research was part of an analysis I started last fall with fellow co-authors: Erin Roche, Todd Arnold, and Francie Cuthbert. Acknowledgements for the presentation include: The Waterbird Society, University of Michigan Biological Station, UMN, and US Fish and Wildlife Service. The manuscript for this work is in review as a re-submission to The Auk.
Streets of Annaplis (photo by Sarah Saunders)
In addition to the meeting, I had time to explore the city of Annapolis. The historic downtown is home to the Naval Academy and maintains much of its history with brick streets, old-fashioned lampposts, and narrow streets.
Of course the seafood was delicious—especially the state specialty: crab. Conferences are a definitely a great chance to learn about developments in your field of interest, share and receive feedback on your research, and tour the sights of a new and exciting place!
Sarah received runner-up for Best Student Oral Presentation at the Waterbird Society annual meeting.
I attended the 35th Annual Meeting of the Waterbird Society 9-12 Nov 2011, and featured over 120 talks of which more than one-third were student presentations. The meeting was attended largely by US-based researchers and students, but other countries represented included Canada, Iceland, and India. Two runner-up awards (one of which was awarded to Sarah!) and one Best Paper award was presented to student presenters. Other presenters from the Cuthbert lab at UMN were Linda Wires, Jennifer Stucker, and Kate Wyman.
My paper was titled: ” Simplified landscapes, complex patterns: Factors influencing waterbird abundance in the perennially cultivated Gangetic floodplains, India”. The abstract is included at the end of the blog posting. This research was part of my PhD work which I defended in CB in Sep 29th 2011. My committee members, in alphabetic order, were: Todd Arnold, Francie Cuthbert, Susan Galatowitsch, Nick Jordan, and Kristen Nelson. The work was supported by UMN, National Geographic Society, Waterbird Society, and the International Crane Foundation.
Gopi’s talk was adjudged the Best Student Paper in the conference.
Sarah Saunders – Runner-up for Best Student Oral Presentation @ Waterbird Society’s 35th Annual Meeting
Reproductive success commonly improves with age in birds. However, it is difficult to determine whether this phenomenon is due to breeding experience or other age-related factors as most potential explanatory factors are positively correlated. Using a 17-year database, we investigated how age, breeding experience, location experience, and pair-bond experience influenced Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) reproductive success in the Great Lakes region. Reproductive success was measured as number of chicks fledged per pair for 415 successful nests during 1993-2009. We controlled for individual and site variation with random effects and tested for increased reproductive success associated with age and prior breeding experience, prior location experience, and prior pair-bond experience using generalized linear mixed models. Reproductive success increased with location-specific breeding experience of females and declined when females moved to a new location. After statistically controlling for these effects, we found no additional effect of male age, male experience, or pair experience. Additionally, fledging success declined with later hatching dates, so we examined the relative influence of age and experience on hatch date and determined that older females and males bred earlier. Our results indicate that improvement in reproductive success with age in Piping Plovers has two components: a direct effect of female location experience on fledging success, and an indirect effect of timing of breeding, which leads to greater reproductive success through earlier nesting by older males and females. Actions by resource managers to promote breeding philopatry and successful early nesting attempts may enhance reproductive success of this federally endangered population.
Gopi Sundar – Best Student Paper @ Waterbird Society’s 35th Annual Meeting
Waterbird abundance on agricultural landscapes is affected by multiple factors acting at different spatial scales, and seasonal effects due to changing crops. Using a multi-season landscape-scale design, I surveyed 24 districts in Uttar Pradesh state located in the crop-and-human dominated Gangetic floodplains to evaluate factors (extent of wetlands and landscape heterogeneity at two spatial scales; intensity of cultivation or IOC; location; and season) affecting waterbird abundance. Wetland birds dominated (37%) sampled bird species richness (229 species). Indicator species analyses identified 16 waterbirds affected by IOC, 75% of which were associated with the lowest IOC. The smallest number of indicator species occurred during the rainy season when rice-paddies were the primary crop suggesting high homogenization in that season. I used hierarchical partitioning to understand the relative importance of explanatory variables for waterbird abundance. Total waterbird abundance was influenced most by extent of remnant wetlands at the smaller spatial scale suggesting weak landscape-scale effects due to simplification. Species abundance was influenced by different variables (primarily wetland extent and landscape heterogeneity at different spatial scales;IOC; location), and patterns varied with season suggesting different individual responses corresponding to seasonal landscape conditions. To maximize waterbird abundance on Uttar Pradesh’s simplified landscape, relatively complex interventions at both spatial and temporal scales appear to be required. These include improving wetland habitat especially in areas with high intensities of cultivation, and understanding which locations experience proportionally higher wetland reduction in the dry season.
Have you recently traveled to a meeting? Give your fellow CB’s a report on how it went! Submit posts to Jennifer Biederman (firstname.lastname@example.org).