Lead in Wildlife Symposium
Co-Chairs: Rick Watson, Todd Katzner, Mark Pokras
The Lead in Wildlife Symposium focuses on the science, policy, and mitigation actions underway surrounding issues related to anthropogenic sources of lead impacting wildlife around the world. The symposium will feature oral and poster presentations by global experts in the science, philosophy, and action surrounding the anthropogenic sources of environmental lead contamination. This symposium will promote communication among experts, inform stakeholders, and engage a global audience regarding a major environmental and human health risk. In doing so, our ultimate objective is to foster cohesion and galvanize momentum among stakeholders that will be necessary for solving the issues associated with anthropogenic sources of environmental lead contamination.
Conservation of Eurasian steppe ecosystems with a focus on top avian predators
Co-Chairs: Rick Watson and Todd Katzner
Extensive anthropogenic alteration of steppe ecosystems throughout the world leaves parts of Eurasia and central Asia with some of the world’s last remaining large expanses of intact steppe habitat. Consequently, central Asia has become the sole remaining stronghold for populations of many steppe species, including avian top predators. It is a crucially important area for biodiversity conservation. The goal of this symposium is to create an international exchange of knowledge about the steppe ecosystem, threats, and challenges to its structure and function by using a focus on birds of prey as top predators and indicators of ecosystem health. Outcomes are expected to be shared and improved knowledge, and links and partnerships among participants built for future collaborations on research, education and conservation action to preserve the world’s largest remaining steppe ecosystems as a globally important heritage.
The Barred Owl Invasion of Western North America
Chair: Phil Detrich
The Barred Owl (Strix varia) is a common native species in eastern North America. As of 1900, occurrences west of the 100th meridian were rare. By 2020, thousands of Barred Owls were resident in the western U.S. states of Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, and southeastern Alaska; and in the western Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. Barred Owls have completely occupied the range of the Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) and are now extending southward into the range of the California Spotted Owl (S. o. occidentalis). The Barred Owl is recognized as the primary current threat to the Northern Spotted Owl, which is listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Based on recovery goals, a pilot research program has killed several thousand Barred Owls in the Northern Spotted Owl range. In this symposium, authorities on Barred Owl biology and management will address the history, ecology, and controversies of this remarkable range expansion. Subjects will include demographic impacts to the Northern Spotted Owl; effects on other wildlife taxa; habitat relationships; and the progress, legality, and ethics of control attempts. The symposium also will consider comprehensive management strategies for the future.
Global priorities for raptor ecology and conservation
Co-Chairs: Evan Buechley and Chris McClure
Raptors serve critical ecological functions, are particularly extinction‐prone and are often used as environmental indicators and flagship species. Two recent papers provided the first systematic, global syntheses of the conservation status of and threats to all raptors (McClure et al. 2018), as well as a framework by which to prioritize research and conservation actions on them (Buechley et al. 2019). In this symposium, we will build off of these two papers to provide a global overview of the status, threats, and research history for all raptors, while incorporating talks that highlight conservation and research priorities in greater detail for different species groups and regions, such as conservation priorities for Old World vultures (Botha et al. 2017; Santangeli et al. 2019a); conservation priorities for raptors in Asia (Concepcion et al. 2018); and research priorities for Neotropical Accipitriformes (Monsalvo et al. 2018). Further, we will incorporate talks that investigate the usefulness of using raptors as indicator and umbrella species to help promote the conservation of other species or ecosystems as a whole (i.e. Burgas, Byholm, & Parkkima, 2014; Regos, Tapia, Gil-Carrera, & Domínguez, 2017; Senzaki, Yamaura, & Nakamura, 2015) and talks that address the human components of raptor conservation (DeVault 2015; Santangeli et al. 2019b). Lastly, we will incorporate talks that highlight cutting-edge methodologies applicable to raptor conservation (Ferrer-Sánchez & Rodríguez-Estrella 2016; Watson 2018).
Global solutions for raptor fatalities on power lines
Co-Chairs: Munir Virani and Rick Harness
Raptors and other birds are killed by collision with or electrocution on power lines worldwide. In the US alone, an estimated 12–64 million birds are killed by power lines annually, with 8-57 million birds killed by collision. It is also estimated that 2.5-25.6 million birds are killed per year at Canadian transmission lines. Contacts with electric lines can also lead to outages, damaged equipment, and in some cases, fires. In North America, animals cause approximately 8% of the duration of all outages. The cause of electrocution is due to engineering including phase design, pole type, pole equipment and materials used. This anthropogenic cause of mortality is preventable with appropriately engineered solutions. There has never been a more urgent need for solutions, as global investments in transmission and distribution will approach $3.0 trillion in the decade to 2025. This symposium explores the cost-benefits of preventing electrocution and collision by raptors with power lines and the means for implementing solutions at a global scale. Presentations will be accepted on case studies from around the world that reveal the impact of electrocution or collision on raptor populations. Other presentations will focus on the social and economic concepts that influence decision makers to either construct safe power lines in the first place or retrofit lines that are not safe. How to reach and influence key decision makers worldwide, whether they be engineers designing lines, utilities installing lines, investors paying for lines, or governments authorizing lines will be discussed as a vitally important step in promoting raptor safe electrification worldwide.
The Human/Raptor Interface in Archaeological Research and Its Multidisciplinary Potential
Co-chairs: Jonathan Dombrosky and Katelyn J. Bishop
The archaeological record is an unparalleled source of information regarding the nature of human/raptor relationships through time and the environmental context in which these relationships occur across the globe. Presenters in this symposium highlight how the material traces of past humans and raptors relate to more anthropological topics such as the social organization, belief structure, behavior, and technology of past human groups. However, when possible, presenters also emphasize how their research can help with raptor conservation or how it reveals information about past raptor behavior, their ecological niches, or larger landscape histories. While archaeology is of interest to both public and academic audiences, this symposium explicitly seeks to showcase and engage biologists with archaeological perspectives to help facilitate multidisciplinary research on raptors in general. There is strong potential for archaeological research to situate present socio-environmental problems and guide decision-making, and this is especially the case when such problems relate to raptors considering the long coevolutionary history they have with humans.
The Full Annual Cycle of the American Kestrel: Knowledge Gaps and Conservation Needs
Co-chairs: Jim Bednarz, Kelsey Biles, Jean-François Therrien, Anjolene Hunt
The American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) is a relatively common and popular raptor, used as the model species for a variety of scientific studies (Bird and Bowman 1987). Despite their ubiquity, long-term data from the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), raptor migration counts, and occupancy of nest boxes all suggest that American Kestrel populations are undergoing widespread declines across North America (Farmer and Smith 2009, Smallwood et al. 2009). The most severe declines seem to be occurring in populations along the Atlantic coast and the Appalachian Mountains (Farmer and Smith 2009), whereas trends are less conclusive in other regions of the U.S. (Farmer and Smith 2009, Smallwood et al. 2009). Regional declines in kestrel populations have been reported beginning as early as 1971 (Bednarz et al. 1990), and although many potential drivers of decline have been investigated, no clear conclusions have been reached. Recent analyses have indicated that low breeding success alone cannot explain this apparent decline, suggesting that more information on survival, and a better understanding of the full annual cycle is needed to uncover likely factors (McClure et al. 2017). Specifically, more information on non-breeding populations, adult survival, carry-over effects, and migratory connectivity are important to determine population-specific trends and potential conservation actions (McClure et al. 2017). This need has been recognized, and because of the plethora of researchers working with this well-studied species, a number of symposiums have been organized to summarize and share data on kestrel population trends and their biology. Also, recent broader-scale science initiatives, such as eBird and nestwatch, offer new opportunities for learning about kestrels across large-scales. Here, we propose that the time is right to organize the next American Kestrel symposium to review new results and ongoing research, and have researchers and raptor enthusiasts collectively discuss and share ideas to again deliberate the status, potential drivers of declines, areas for collaboration, and possible conservation actions needed to address the kestrel population decline.
Prairie Falcons: What we know and what we don’t know
Chair: Karen Steenhof
Prairie Falcons are endemic to western North America, where the landscape has been altered significantly by wildfires, energy development, invasive plants, and climate change in recent decades. Unfortunately, little is known about the species’ current population status or how it may have changed in response to these habitat alterations. Prairie Falcons were the reason that the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area was established. Prairie Falcons nest in particularly high densities in southwestern Idaho, where they were studied intensively from 1970 to 2003. However, populations were not monitored in the Snake River Canyon from 2004 to 2018, and there is limited information on the size of nesting populations in other states and provinces. The purpose of the symposium will be to share information on the status of the Prairie Falcon throughout its range, to identify critical information needs, and to discuss opportunities and protocols for future research and population monitoring. The symposium will include presentations about recent research based on banding and genetic analyses as well as updates on recent sampling of nesting populations in the Snake River Canyon. Representatives will report on what is known about current population levels and trends as well as the status of current population monitoring in each state and province where the Prairie Falcon occurs. A discussion after the presentations will focus on prioritizing information needs and developing a framework for range-wide population monitoring.
Beyond the Genus Falco: Caracaras, falcons of a different feather
Chair: Katie Harrington
The 10 recognized caracara species comprise a unique subfamily of mainly Neotropical falconids distributed throughout Central and South America. Species within the subfamily’s five genera vary greatly in habitat, diet, and opportunities for interactions with humans, and thus have varying conservation needs. Some caracaras have a wide distribution and, like corvids, are opportunistic and generalist in their feeding habits. However, several species in the genus Phalcoboenus have restricted ranges; and Red-throated Caracaras apparently feed almost exclusively on wasps. Some species that commonly associate with humans are heavily persecuted as pests, yet effects of human activities on populations are unknown. Overall, most caracara species are poorly studied, especially compared to other falconids. This symposium, the first to focus on this group, will gather researchers from across the Americas to meet, discuss, share findings, and identify data gaps. The goal is to foster international cooperation in understanding this unique group of raptors, spur expanded research into their biology and behavior, identify threats and conservation needs, and encourage a reassessment of the IUCN status of the most understudied species.
Raptor Propagation for Conservation – Past, Present and Future
Chair: Beau Parks
In 1966, the founders of the Raptor Research Foundation considered one of their most important functions to be “a cooperative effort to develop methods of breeding birds of prey in captivity” (Raptor Research News 1:1). Since then, and perhaps largely due to that effort, captive propagation has played an integral part in some of the most high-profile raptor conservation success stories and the growth of one of the most influential raptor conservation organizations in the World, the Peregrine Fund. Although both the RRF and TPF have diversified their research and conservation efforts far beyond the breeding chamber, captive propagation remains a valuable tool for the conservation of birds of prey. In addition to breeding for conservation, commercial breeding of raptors, primarily for sport falconry is now widespread. There is considerable knowledge in the private sector and opportunities exist for collaboration that can benefit conservation breeding programs. I propose that we continue the founders’ cooperative effort with a symposium exploring the historical successes and challenges of breeding raptors for conservation, the current state of the art of raptor propagation and its potential applications for raptor conservation moving forward.
Questions regarding symposia should be directed to David Anderson (email: [email protected]).
General questions regarding the conference should be directed to Sarah Schulwitz (email: [email protected]).