12th EOU Congress 2019

August 26 – 30, 2019

List of symposium

photo: Attila Nagy
Birds and plant volatile organic compounds

Convenors: Elina Mäntylä, Katerina Sam, Luisa Amo

Plants damaged by arthropods can call for help from predators by emitting volatile organic compounds (VOCs). When plant is damaged by herbivores, the compounds are called herbivore-induced plant volatiles (HIPVs), and when by insect egg deposition then oviposition-induced plant volatiles (OIPVs). Using these chemicals as cues, predators and parasitoids are able to detect damaged plants from a distance, before they see or smell the actual arthropods. It is possible to induce the emission of VOCs also by spraying the plant with methyl jasmonate (MeJA) which is one of compounds plants can produce when damaged by herbivores. Spraying MeJA makes the plant to think that it is damaged by herbivores and it starts to produce VOCs. The role of arthropod predators and parasitoids is well studied in this trophic level interaction but recently there has been several studies showing that also birds can smell these VOCs as a cue during foraging. For example, birds could use as cues HIPVs of birches (Mäntylä et al. 2008), apple trees (Amo et al. 2013) and pines (Mäntylä et al. 2017), and also OIPVs of pines (Mäntylä et al. 2018). Studies using MeJA to make plants attract birds have had mixed results (Mäntylä et al. 2014; Mrazova & Sam 2017; Saavedra & Amo 2018; Mäntylä et al. unpublished). We believe that now is a good time to summarize the studies of birds and plant VOCs, and to find common goals for future studies. Thanks to new methods, collecting VOCs is getting cheaper, and thus more experiments with VOC collection can be conducted.

Forest bird ecology and conservation: research advances and future directions

Conveners: Nico Arcilla, Maris Strazds

The world’s natural forests play critical roles as habitat for birds and in global climate change mitigation, yet are increasingly threatened by human activities, particularly logging and associated deforestation and degradation. Forest management for timber typically focuses on maximizing economic returns and may cause substantial losses of biodiversity, including species, habitats, and, ecosystem processes. Sustainable forest management, on the other hand, seeks to balance timber extraction with biodiversity conservation and social values. Despite efforts to encourage sustainable forest management, however, destruction and degradation of high conservation value forests continue around the world and effective interventions are urgently needed to conserve biodiversity. In this symposium, we will focus on birds as indicators of forest ecosystem integrity, especially in boreal and tropical regions with high value forests and large intact forest landscapes. We will present recent research advances in forest bird ecology and evaluate forest bird conservation strategies to date. We will consider the following and related questions: How can we reconcile competing economic and biodiversity conservation objectives in forestry? What lessons can we draw from recent research on forest bird ecology and responses to human impacts in forests? How have forest bird conservation initiatives succeeded or failed, and how can we apply this knowledge to improve conservation effectiveness and population status of forest birds? We will conclude with a concise summary of findings, recommendation, and applications to future research and conservation efforts. The proposed symposium will build our successful symposium for the 2017 EOU in Turku, Finland, with a similar theme, entitled “Forest management and bird conservation: research advances and future directions.” There, speakers presented research on the effects of forest management on birds in Belarus, Finland, Latvia, Poland, Russia, and Sweden, as well as tropical forest countries including Ghana and Peru. We would like to continue to advance bird conservation research in timber production forests by further developing these themes with EOU conference participants in 2019, when speakers will present updates and new research findings and conservation recommendations. We will review recent innovative forest biodiversity conservation and research initiatives, including Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative, which has invested billions of dollars in stopping tropical deforestation over the past 10 years, the University of Copenhagen’s long-term research on global forestry policy outcomes, and the Swedish University for Agricultural Science’s international research on reconciling competing economic and biodiversity conservation objectives in forestry.

From genes to behaviour: what mechanistic studies can tell us about migration

Conveners: Zoltán Németh, Cas Eikenaar

With the advancement of tracking technology, a remarkable array of migratory behaviours have been described, yet our understanding of the regulatory mechanisms facilitating the emergence and maintenance of this behavioral diversity remains relatively poor. This is surprising because genetic and physiological (e.g., endocrine, immunological and oxidative) processes are key in shaping an organism’s phenotype in response to the challenges of migration. Furthermore, understanding the regulatory processes behind the timing and expression of migratory behavior is crucial, for example, to be able to anticipate both individual and population level responses to rapidly changing environments – a condition migratory organisms face at an increasing rate across the globe. With this symposium we aim to bring together researchers interested in the mechanistic underpinnings of migratory behavior. Our goal is to provide an overview of the current state of this field as well as to identify exciting new research directions.

Immune function as a mediator of trade-offs

Conveners: Arne Hegemann, Kevin D. Matson

Ecological immunology is a young and dynamic field. It was only a couple of decades ago that evolutionary ecologists first began to seriously consider that the costs and benefits associated with the immune system might drive important trade-offs between defences against diseases and other behavioural and physiological processes that impact individual fitness. Since then, measuring immunological parameters in free-living and captive animals has become widespread in studies of ecology and evolution. Over the last several years, more than 500 papers per year have been published reporting ecological research that also involves immunology, with the majority of these studies done on birds. As a result, the role of immune function as a physiological mechanism shaping trade-offs in free-living birds has become clearer, and immune function is now recognised as an important driver of many ecological and evolutionary processes in birds. Despite this and the centrality of the immune system to the survival of birds, there has not been a symposium focusing on the avian immune system in ecological and evolutionary contexts at an EOU meeting since the one in Riga in 2011. Instead, talks on these topics have been scattered over different sessions and symposia. With this symposium, we aim to provide a platform for ecological immunologists and bring together researchers interested in how immune function shapes trade-offs in avian ecology and evolution. We will take a wide view of life-history by including survival, reproduction, behaviour, migration and other movement, as well as other physiological systems. By combining speakers and interested meeting participants in one setting, we hope for several outcomes. First, we want to create an environment that fosters new collaborations among people working on these topics. Second, we want to offer ornithologists who are not yet familiar with this research an overview of the current state of this rapidly expanding research domain. Having attracted two internationally recognised ecological immunologists from North America, we also aim at building bridges to relevant research networks in North America, where ecological immunology has a stronger standing than in Europe. Finally, putting immune function into the spotlight is particularly timely. With recent advances in tracking technologies and in our ability to measure other physiological traits in free-living animals, many new opportunities related to our symposium’s theme (immune function as a physiological mediator of trade-offs) are now on the horizon. In addition to reviewing the current state of affairs, we will also use our symposium to probe this promising future for ecological immunology.

Invasive birds in Europe: trends, drivers and impacts

Convener: Diederik Strubbe, University of Gent, Belgium

Introductions of non-native species continue to increase globally, and biological invasions rank among the top threats to biodiversity, economy and human wellbeing. Birds present an exceptional opportunity to study invasion patterns and processes, as the strong association between birds and people has resulted in an overall relatively good knowledge of invasion histories, allowing to test hypotheses about the role of various factors that drive biological invasions. Yet, while significant progress has been made in identifying when species are likely to become invasive, a better understanding of the processes and mechanisms underlying the invasion success and spread of successful invaders remains paramount for informing invasive species management programmes. This symposium aims to provide an overview of both current and future research directions for forecasting invasion success and range dynamics, identifying and quantifying impacts of invasive birds as well as options for the management of high-impact invasive birds.

Living at high elevations – adaptations and current challenges

Conveners: Sabine Hille, Fränzi Korner-Nievergeldt

Mountain ecosystems are recognised as world’s biodiversity hotspots, hosting highly specialized and endemic species which are threatened by human induced causes including climate change. Mountain regions are particularly susceptible to climatic alterations and are experiencing a faster rate of warming compared to global average. Given these expected environmental changes at high elevations, it is surprising how little is known about the life-history of characteristic bird species of high elevations. Several studies found indications that the life-history of birds of high elevation habitat may not fit into the gradient between slow and fast life history. However, for understanding how bird species and populations adapted their life-history to living at high elevations, knowledge of basic demographic parameters of populations living at high elevations, and of morphological, physiological and behavioural adaptations are urgently needed. This symposium will give an overview of what we know about the life-histories of bird species living at high elevations and present new results.

Number and distribution of birds of Northern Eurasia

Conveners: Sergej A. Soloviev, Ion Constantin

It is important to research the number and distribution of birds of Northern Eurasia for solving the problems of saving their biodiversity, creating atlases of nesting birds, updating Red Books and organizing natural areas. We evaluated the abundance of birds, dominant, rare and endangered species, their background and faunistic composition. It helped us to remove “white spots” from the information part of researching the biota of Asian part. Before research we formed the list of birds species with their status and without relative abundance data. We got information about birds distribution from deeply transformed and urbanized to native floodplain landscapes. It helped us to find main nature-anthropogenic factors which identify spatial heterogeneity of birds community of Northern Eurasia. It predicts changes of the general birds number and distribution as a result of climate change and anthropogenic influence. Collection of data on number and distribution of birds in Western Siberia has been organized since 1961. Thus, the planned discussion will promote the future integration of European ornithologists to research of birds biodiversity and community of Northern Eurasia according to the work methods and principles of the Zoomonitoring Laboratory at the Institute of Systematics and Ecology of Animals of SB RAS (Novosibirsk). Nowadays in the European there have been created lots of atlases of nesting birds from different rank regions. These works are significant for sanitary, epidemiological and aesthetic status of citizens of our planet. In the Russian Federation the creation of the atlas of nesting birds on the vast territory to the Urals is being completed. Large spaces from the Urals to the Pacific Ocean do not have such squares with nesting birds census. Symposium is aimed at the inventory and the creation of the database on number and distribution of birds of Northern Eurasia. The primary task is to discuss the methods and principles for the creation of the databanks and their adaptation for atlases organization. This work will allow us to optimize our research and agree on the common working procedure. The next task is the identification of “white spots” where ornithocomplex and ornithofauna studies have never conducted before. Famous works of ornithologists from the Zoological Museum of Moscow University and the Zoomonitoring Laboratory at the Institute of Systematics and Ecology of Animals of SB RAS (Novosibirsk) that are effective for the symposium tasks solution will be discussed.

Shifting the focus: avian life-history stages from the perspective of understudied hormonal systems

Conveners: Sara Lupi, Pablo Salmon

Organisms go through a series of life history stages that together constitute their life cycle. The secretion of hormones regulates each stage, as well as the transition from one to another. A remarkable aspect of birds’ life-history is their physiological and behavioral flexibility to match the timing of each stage to environmental conditions. However, the regulatory mechanisms that allow such flexibility are still poorly understood. Research on the endocrine control of life stages of birds has typically focused on a few hormonal axes. For example, there is extensive literature on the involvement of corticosterone and testosterone in foundational processes. However, several studies suggest extremely complex relationships between regulatory systems that may be species-dependent and vary between life-history stages. To uncover the complex array of hormones related to life-history traits in birds, recent studies have started to move the focus to newly discovered or poorly studied hormones. Research on these hormonal systems may not only bring out an extent of the complexity in life-history regulation but also offer new perspectives in the hormonal mediation of trade-offs and carry-over effects across the annual cycle. This symposium aims at presenting research on understudied hormonal axes linked with life-history variation, using an integrative and/or comparative perspective. The symposium does not try to present an extensive overview of the avian endocrine system, but rather aims at 1) familiarising researchers interested in the study of physiological mechanisms with alternative hormonal axes linked with life-history variation and 2) encourage collaborations, discussions and the build-up of improved approaches between evolutionary endocrinologists and behavioural ecologists in the understanding of the role of hormonal regulation in the different avian life-history stages.

The effects of weather on birds

Conveners: Mark Mainwaring, Andreas Nord

Birds experience an enormous variety of weather throughout their lives. Temperature, rainfall, wind and other variables combine to produce dramatically different weather conditions over temporal timescales such as within days or with changing seasons, and over spatial scales with latitude, longitude and altitude. Much of the research on the effects of weather focuses on climate change and extreme weather events, but even normal weather conditions have important effects on birds by influencing their distributions, behaviours, dispersal, reproduction, life history, ontogeny, physiology, and locomotor performance, among others. Birds adapt their behaviour, physiology and morphology accordingly, and their ability to make such changes has important fitness consequences because weather conditions directly impact their survival and reproductive success. Understanding the effects of weather on birds can therefore provide information on the selective pressures that may have led to trait evolution, as well as provide predictions for upcoming environmental change. This symposium will provide a platform for scientists from Europe and beyond to present research examining the ecological and evolutionary importance of weather for birds, while also linking with broader themes such as phenotypic plasticity, life history evolution and climate change. In doing so, this symposium will provide an authoritative overview on how weather affects birds and will therefore provide the presenters, audience members and the wider ornithological community with a chance to discuss this topical issue and the exciting areas in which they think that future research should be directed.

Urban ornithology: From large scale patterns to fine scale processes.

Convenors: Arjun Amar, Juan Diego Ibáñez-Álamo

Urban environments are rapidly expanding across the globe, and urbanization represents one of the most severe and irreversible forms of human impact. Urbanization can have negative impacts on wildlife, and urban areas typically support communities that are less diverse and have more exotic species than natural habitats in the same region. However, cities can provide opportunities for wildlife due to a high abundance of anthropogenic food, artificial nest sites and better weather conditions. Furthermore, the biodiversity that does occur in urban areas can contribute significantly to the quality of life of the human population, and there are numerous examples of its benefits, including psychological well-being, educational value, and economic value (e.g. property prices are increased in higher biodiversity areas). Given that rates of urbanization are rising globally, the need to maintain and enhance urban biodiversity has become increasingly important. The present symposium aims to highlight the implications of urbanization for birds in a broad context, from population level patterns to physiological mechanisms, thus contributing to increased human awareness and improved conservation of urban biodiversity.

With thanks to our local partners

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