Chair: Dominique Chabot, droneMetrics, Ottawa, Ontario

Summary : As the meeting’s headlining symposium, this session will showcase some of the foremost technological advancements and initiatives that are currently transforming our capacity to study and monitor birds. Presentations will span breakthroughs in remote sensing—including drones, high-resolution satellite imagery and sophisticated image analysis techniques; progress in bird radio-tracking capabilities—with a focus on the Motus Wildlife Tracking System; developments in crowdsourcing—with a focus on the eBird online database; advancements in bioacoustics—including the use of autonomous recorders and automated audio recognition technology for studying and surveying birds; and developments in genomics—with a focus on the Bird Genoscape Project aiming to map population-specific migratory routes of songbirds. Presentations will be high-level in nature, providing an overview of how these technologies are reshaping the study and monitoring of birds, with a broad focus in terms of species and applications. This symposium will end with an interactive discussion between panellists and participants on the implications of these new technologies on the future conservation planning and ornithology at a broader scope. Dr. Charles Francis will facilitate the discussion.

Chair: Yves Aubry, Canadian Wildlife Service, Québec City, Québec

Summary : The Bicknell’s Thrush symposium will highlight how technological advances are helping to uncover critical new information about the ecology and conservation of this rare and reclusive migratory bird, including results from recent studies examining the impact of three important environmental modifications: forestry, climate change, and development of wind energy. The symposium will also demonstrate how new, miniaturized tracking devices are shedding light on patterns of migration and connectivity between breeding, stopover, and wintering ranges. Finally, the symposium will offer perspectives on how new remote-sensing technologies may improve our ability to monitor population change in the species. Although focused on Bicknell’s Thrush, this symposium will be of interest to all ornithologists curious about how new technologies may support novel and proactive conservation actions for birds.

Chair: Andrew D. Crosby, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta

Summary : This symposium will focus on addressing the scientific challenges around conservation planning for boreal birds in a rapidly changing environment. Symposium presentation will examine these challenges through both a quantitative lens (estimating bird species distributions, monitoring populations, and forecasting population changes) and a qualitative lens (coproducing research with multiple stakeholders to pursue conservation outcomes). Novel research will be presented in talks that explore the use of new technologies such as Lidar data and automated recording units, and new methods for addressing quantitative issues and simulating landscape change. Finally, a short workshop (30-45 minutes) will engage participants interactively to explore stakeholder relationships within their research programs and how to build partnerships for long-term conservation, with a focus on Indigenous and community consent.

Chairs: Ann McKellar and Mark Bidwell, Canadian Wildlife Service, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Summary : Until recently, tracking the annual movements of long-distance migratory birds was limited by technological constraints that tended to restrict studies to those of birds large enough to carry heavy devices. With the rapid development of new technologies, including advancements in automation and miniaturization, researchers are able to collect unprecedented information on the fine and large-scale movements and other behaviours of individuals throughout their annual cycle. This is especially true for waterbirds, many of which are small-bodied, occupy remote habitats, and travel long distances, and thus difficult to track using traditional methods. Our symposium will demonstrate how new and emerging tracking technologies are being applied to answer novel questions about waterbirds, and will describe the main methodological and analytical advancements being made in this new, golden age of bird tracking. Topics will include use of miniaturized automated radio-transmitters to track shorebirds, light level geolocators to track terns, and satellite and cellular-based GPS transmitters to track cranes. The symposium will allow current practitioners and those wishing to adopt new technologies to share knowledge on how best to make use of these new tools to answer important questions in the fields of behavioural ecology and conservation of waterbirds.

Chairs: Rebecca A. McCabe and Francis van Oordt, McGill University, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Québec

Summary : Understanding how animals move in relation to their environment by linking behaviors to movements, is an undertaking scientists have been actively pursuing for many years. Technological advances in particular, tracking devices, accelerometers, geographic information systems, and computing power, provide an opportunity to quantify animal behavior and help us to grasp the major mechanisms around ecological concepts such as dispersal, resource use, population dynamics, and biodiversity. By coupling movement data and detailed behavioral observations, we can gain insight into the internal and external drivers that affect behavior, fitness and population processes. Movements are even more important, or rather impressive, within the avian realm because their ability to fly allows them in most cases to displace greater distances than the average terrestrial organism. This symposium will focus on how individual movements (long or short) may define the ecology, behavior, or survival of species that inhabit latitudes from the Arctic to the Tropics.

Chairs: Andrew J. Campomizzi and Zoé M. Lebrun-Southcott, Bird Ecology and Conservation, Ontario

Summary : Ground-nesting grassland obligate songbirds are of conservation concern in Canada, largely because of population declines. Listings under the Species At Risk Act in 2017 (e.g., bobolink and eastern meadowlark as threatened, Baird’s sparrow and grasshopper sparrow pratensis subspecies as special concern) underscored the continuing conservation needs of grassland songbirds. Many grassland songbird species face common threats on breeding grounds, such as habitat loss and low fecundity because of particular agricultural practices. Research and conservation is ongoing; however, because a number of these species rely on dynamic agricultural grasslands for nesting habitat, developing successful conservation strategies is complex and challenging. Much work remains to be done and exchange of information between researchers and conservation practitioners is vital. This symposium will convene researchers and conservation practitioners who are addressing the conservation of ground-nesting grassland obligate songbirds to improve science-based conservation. We will facilitate information exchange, help identify knowledge gaps needing further research, and look for future collaborations through presentations on the status of grassland songbirds in Canada, nest survival, post-breeding habitat use, monitoring stewardship programs, and administering stewardship programs.

Chair: Stefanie E. LaZerte. Brandon University, Brandon, Manitoba

Summary : Ornithologists “in the era of new technologies” have access to ever increasing sources of data, which in turn leads to large quantities of data. This wealth of data is exciting, but sometimes overwhelming, and with new technologies for collecting data, we need new technologies for processing and analyzing data. One such technology is the free and open source programming language, R. R is a powerful (and economical) tool that is highly extensible through ‘packages’ for performing specific tasks. However, R can be daunting and difficult to learn, let alone to master. This symposium brings together speakers who are R users and R programmers from a variety of backgrounds and skill levels. The speakers will share experiences using R (cool tools, big data, and cloud computing), specific R packages for accessing data (bird observations online) and performing data analysis (meta-analysis, hierarchical Bayesian modelling), and experiences teaching R to new users. The goal of this symposium is to bring together an audience of programmers, users and non-users of R, to show-case how R can be used for ornithological applications, and to demonstrate how R is a tool that can make ornithological research easier, more affordable, and stronger.

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Important Dates

Deadline for symposium proposals
January 8, 2019

Call for papers 
February 20, 2019 

Registration starts
February 21, 2019 

Abstract submission deadline
May 5, 2019 

Paper acceptance notice
May 27, 2019 Extended

Early bird and presenting author registration deadline
June 17, 2019

August 27-30, 2019