The Waterbird Society Annual Meeting 2023


Atlantic Marine Bird Cooperative

Since 2005, the Atlantic Marine Bird Cooperative (AMBC) has brought together partners to better understand and conserve northwest Atlantic marine birds and their habitats from Florida to Atlantic Canada, through cooperative science-driven actions. Current priorities include engaging partners in proactive planning for offshore wind development, compiling resources to better identify mortality events and respond to HPAI, identifying priority gaps in diet and productivity monitoring, and engagement in coordinated colonial waterbird survey planning. This symposium is a place for discussing projects, sharing ideas, and fostering productive partnerships related to northwestern Atlantic marine birds. This symposium will offer an opportunity for participants to present and update one another on recent work, and a forum for working groups to convene and share plans and accomplishments. In addition, participants will have an opportunity to review and discuss progress, processes and future directions of the AMBC. 

Waterbird Movement Ecology

Waterbirds are among the most mobile groups in the avian world, and they represent a huge diversity of population movement strategies, ranging from sedentary to migratory to nomadic. Waterbirds also seem to be highly plastic in their individual movement behavior on both short and lifelong time scales.  The leading conceptual hypothesis is that birds dynamically adjust their movement behavior in response to resource availability, thus enhancing fitness.  While that general concept has been accepted for some time, an understanding of specific thresholds and linkages between resources and movement behavior have been limited, and somewhat constrained by a focus on a migratory vs sedentary axis.  The advent of advanced telemetry techniques, a range of new methods to document resource distributions, and recent advances in defining the full spectrum of individual- and population-level movement strategies have rapidly changed our knowledge about waterbird movements in particular, at a time when anthropogenic actions have become strong forcing functions upon resource distributions for this taxonomic group.  This symposium aims to pull together speakers whose work represents recent advances in the field of movement ecology, encompassing both conceptual/theoretical issues, examples of movement behavior in relation to dynamic resource distributions, and rapid changes in movement strategies in reaction to human-induced changes in resource distribution.


Artificial and human-made habitats that support waterbird nesting and foraging: research, monitoring, and management

This symposium will highlight ways in which waterbirds are utilizing artificial habitats – intended or not intended – for breeding, feeding, and sheltering. Presentations will focus on ecological studies of these artificial systems, as well as management and conservation strategies in atypical environments. The objective of the session is to understand the relative need or importance of artificial habitats for waterbird ecology and to cross-collaborate on novel approaches to research and monitoring.


Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza

This symposium will bring together experts to discuss the latest findings and developments in the emergence and spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in waterbirds. This symposium will focus on the epidemiology, ecology, and evolution of avian influenza in wild bird populations, assessments of mortality and population-level impacts and strategies for surveillance, prevention, and control. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage in discussions and gain insights into the challenges and opportunities for understanding and managing this important global wildlife health issue.


Black Skimmer conservation, management, and research

This is a planned event to allow interested parties to come together and present information on Black Skimmer population dynamics across the breeding range in North America. Presentations will be centered around conservation, management, and research topics which includes site specific information on Atlantic and GoM breeding activities, management issues such as human-wildlife interactions, and research including conservation genetics, foraging ecology, juvenile survival, mark-recapture study results, and migration. We hope to use this seminar as a starting place to develop information on research gaps for future research activities and to identify management priorities.

One Water 

Access to clean water and healthy watersheds is a vital to the health of all life on earth. However, water management has traditionally been antagonistic, with different user groups fighting to monopolize water resources. This has led to inefficient water management, degraded ecosystems, and inequities in water rights and access among human communities, all of which are augmented by climate change.

In recent years, the One Water Movement has sought to address these issues by rethinking water management to prioritize human and environmental health, well-being, and equity. The goal of this unified approach is to bring together diverse stakeholders to unify water management across a variety of sources, contexts, and user groups, deploy natural solutions, and create equitable outcomes. While most One Water initiatives focus on human user groups, the explicit integration of environmental restoration into this framework offers the chance to develop creative approaches for incorporating the needs of non-human stakeholders, such as waterbirds. As key users of aquatic ecosystems, the presence and recovery of waterbird populations can serve as valuable indicators of progress toward environmental goals. Moreover, given their visibility and cultural significance, waterbirds are ideal ambassadors for complex water management issues. In order to effectively incorporate waterbird needs into water management frameworks, however, there is a need to first identify points of intersection as well address any barriers to integration. 

This symposium will explore current research and future prospects for integrating One Water management with waterbird science and conservation. We will bring together experts working at the intersection of waterbird ecology and conservation, water management, and social sciences who will introduce the One Water approach, present case studies on current efforts to manage water for human and waterbird needs, and conclude with a panel discussion integrating the perspectives of practitioners, indigenous nations, and local communities. Topics of discussion will include approaches for balancing human and waterbird water needs, managing stormwater and agricultural water for waterbirds, understanding the role of wetlands and waterbirds in disease ecology, and engaging communities in waterbird and water resource management. Our goal is to identify actionable opportunities to integrate waterbird science and conservation with One Water management to promote a secure, equitable water future for humans and waterbirds.

Additional information and schedule details can be found here.

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