This past August, Dr. Cohen, post-doc Abby Darrah, and M.S. student Melissa Althouse attended the 39th annual Waterbirds Society meeting, held on the beautiful campus of the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. The meeting included special sessions on oystercatchers and cormorants, and included a new session on passerines, which lab member Alison Kocek helped initiate. Abby presented a poster on her current plover work: “Decision support population modeling for Atlantic Coast Piping Plover recovery: 2015 field season”. She also gave a talk on her previous postdoctoral work during the Aquatic Passerines symposium – “Effects of tamarisk (Tamarisk spp) biocontrol and removal on riparian breeding bird species of the Colorado Plateau”. Melissa drove up from her field sites on Cape Cod to give a talk on her master’s research: “Quantifying the effects of disturbance on staging Roseate Terns (Sterna dougalli) on the Cape Cod National Seashore” as part of a half-day symposium on avian behavior and conservation. Friday, a field trip day, was spent on a pelagic trip offered to participants by Bar Harbor Whale Watch. The boat cruised by several near-shore islands as well as Mt. Desert Rock, located 22 miles offshore. It was a fantastic trip, and highlights included numerous Wilson’s Storm-Petrels, Great Shearwaters, several species of skuas and jaegers, many Ocean Sunfish, and a porbeagle shark basking near the ocean surface next to the boat. The meeting wrapped up with a lobster banquet and the society’s traditional evening social and swim; Abby joined the many Waterbirds members brave enough to jump into the 55-degree waters of Frenchman Bay.
In September, Abby and Research Associate Michelle Stantial attended the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Group meeting, as well as the pre-conference workshop on Piping Plover life cycle linkages. The meeting was held on the eastern shore of Virginia, at the Chincoteague Bay Field Station. To foster international collaboration, participants could give presentations in either English or Spanish, with translators in every room to provide translations in real-time which were broadcast into headsets available for participants. Michelle presented a poster based on her M.S. work titled “Automated telemetry for monitoring nocturnal behavior of breeding Piping Plovers on the Atlantic Coast”. Abby gave a presentation on her current work, titled “Decision support population modeling for Atlantic Coast Piping Plover recovery” in the Decision Analysis symposium. One morning plenary, given by Ted Simons on American Oystercatcher ecology, was held at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, and there were early morning field trips to the refuge, which coincided well with fall songbird migration.
Wildlife managers and scientists from across New York gathered in July to share research findings and to discuss information needs for the conservation of freshwater wetlands, waterfowl, and other marsh-dependent birds. Jonathan Cohen, ESF adjunct professor Michael Schummer, and their incoming graduate students Justin Droke and Adam Bleau participated in the 2-day workshop that was funded by the SUNY 4E Networks. The ESF team will be embarking on a project with the New York DEC this year to examine the winter ecology of mallards and the American black duck. The latter has seen ongoing population declines over the last 60 years.
Graduate student Amanda Cheeseman won Best Overall Poster at the 94th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Mammalogists in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma this week. Amanda's poster was entitled "Survival and home range of New England Cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis) in response to hunting, competition, and habitat composition", and details the results of her first year of her dissertation research on cottontails in New York State. Congratulations on this well-deserved honor, Amanda!
Grad students Alison Kocek and Laurel Nowak-Boyd recently won competitive travel awards from SUNY ESF's Office of Instruction and Graduate Studies to present their work at conferences. Alison received $500 towards attendance at the International Ornithological Congress in Tokyo, Japan in August. In Japan, she will be presenting results from her work on Saltmarsh and Seaside Sparrows nesting in New York City marshes. Laurel received $300 for the Northeast Fish and Wildlife Conference in Portland, Maine this April, where she will present on her recently completed study of Ring-necked Pheasants in Western New York. Congratulations, ladies!
Lab members attend Atlantic Coast Piping Plover workshop, win GOLD medal at 1st annual Piping Plover Olympics
Dr. Cohen and grad students Michelle Stantial, Alison Kocek, Maureen Durkin, and Melissa Althouse attended the 2014 Atlantic Coast Piping Plover and Least Tern Workshop at National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV this month. Dr. Cohen helped present the results of a structured decision making workshop for Piping Plover nest exclosures that he and Alison participated in this past December. Michelle presented initial results and conclusions from her study on Piping Plover flight behavior on the Atlantic Coast. Her work aims to identify whether proposed wind turbines placed within Piping Plover breeding areas will impact the birds during flight. As wind energy gains popularity, this issue is relevant for site managers across the breeding range, and her presentation was met with much interest. Maureen presented a poster on plover and tern road mortality in Florida.
The whole lab group competed against eight other teams of piping plover scientists and managers in the 1st annual Piping Plover Olympics, which included trivia, a relay, logic puzzle, and band resighting events. After a tough competition, clinched by Dr. Cohen's rousing dramatic reenactment of a broken wing display, the ESF team took home the gold medal (shell).
Michelle Stantial received an award for her oral presentation, "Flight behaviors of Piping Plovers Charadrius melodus: implications for risk of collision with turbines and other human structures" at the 37th Annual Meeting of the Waterbird Society in Wilhelmshaven, Germany. Maureen Durkin received honorable mention for presenting, "Waterbird road mortality at Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida."