Birds of South and Middle America – recent advances in knowledge
Joint British Ornithologists’ Club/Neotropical BirdClub/Natural History Museum free one-day symposium
29 October 2011, 10.30-17.00, Flett Lecture Theatre, Natural History Museum, London SW7 5BD
Key contact: Robert Prys-Jones (firstname.lastname@example.org) - if you wish to attend, please email in advance: places are limited.
11.00-11.45 Nathalie Seddon (Edward Grey Institute, Oxford University) Why birds sing at dawn
Communal displays of acoustically and visually signalling animals include some of the great spectacles of the living world. Many of these spectacles involve large communities of different species signalling in concert, often just before sunrise. Though perhaps best documented in birds, dawn choruses occur in a wide diversity of other animals, from primates and frogs, to lizards and insects. These signalling events have long fascinated humans, but despite a century of speculation, there is little consensus as to their adaptive significance. Drawing on a recent study of the largest dawn chorus of all, that of the singing birds of Upper Amazonia, to discuss how ecology, social interactions and evolutionary history drive birds to synchronise their songs at daybreak.
11.45-12.30 Huw Lloyd (Manchester Metropolitan University) Conservation of High Andean forest birds in Peru
The loss and degradation of high-Andean Polylepis woodlands is of particular international concern because of its highly fragmented distribution, the inadequacy of its protection within national reserves, and the high levels of habitat-restricted endemism amongst its threatened bird communities. This talk will discuss some of the most recent ornithological findings from southern Peru, that could lead to the development of effective and realistic habitat restoration strategies for populations of these severely threatened bird species.
12.30-13.15 James Lowen (Bradt Travel Guides) Wildlife of the Pantanal, South America’s Serengeti
The world's largest wetland and the aquatic heart of South America showcases some of the most breathtaking gatherings of birds, mammals and reptiles you could ever hope to see. The author of a new book to Pantanal wildlife and travel treats us to a visual celebration of the region's wildlife spectacles, with a particular focus on the region's avian specialities and their conservation.
13.15-14.15 Lunch (not provided)
14.15-15.00 Cristina Banks-Leite (Imperial College London) * Understorey bird responses to deforestation in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil
The Atlantic Forest has been reduced to only 15 per cent of its original area, whilst much of the extant forest is degraded and fragmented. Such altered conditions pose a great threat to the persistence of a highly endemic and diverse avifauna; however, our ability to build effective conservation measures is impaired by an imperfect understanding of how communities respond to deforestation. Through the analysis of a dataset consisting of over 7000 birds from 140 species captured in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil, the speaker will show how the understory bird community responds to habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation at multiple spatial and temporal scales.
15.00-15.45 Robert Prys-Jones (Natural History Museum) Project BioMap: documenting the global museum resource of Colombian birds for research and conservation
Project BioMap, a tri-national initiative between British, Colombian and United States institutions, began in late 2001. The project aim was to digitise and verify all Colombian bird specimens deposited in natural history museums around the world. A total of 217,802 Colombian bird specimens in 88 museums were databased and georeferenced (whenever possible) and made available online. My talk will present a temporal and spatial breakdown of the information available, highlighting strengths and weaknesses, and discuss its use in research and conservation.
16.15-17.00 Thomas Donegan (ProAves) Exploring, studying and protecting the world's most diverse national avifauna
The publication in 2010 of a new field guide for Colombia is a good point to take stock of recent advances in knowledge in the world's most diverse country for birds. Explorations and discoveries facilitated by the improving security situation and the increasing capacity of national researchers and institutions have resulted in significant recent findings (new species, splits, lumps, new records, etc.), many of which will be discussed. An illustrated discussion of some of the steps being taken to conserve Colombia's birds and their habitats will also be presented.