MCCS 0513: The Ecology and Conservation of Migratory Birds

Kentucky warbler with leg band. Photo by Brandt Ryder.

Migratory passerines travel annually between breeding and wintering locations, often traveling thousands of kilometers.  The biology behind these behaviors represents some of the most complex and exciting, yet least understood phenomena known to science.  Understanding the linkages between these seasonal events can have important implications for population dynamics, as well as conservation and management strategies.  The research programs of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center at SCBI cover the ecology and evolution of migration, migratory connectivity, breeding and non-breeding life history, population dynamics, and the ecological services that migratory birds provide. This two-week course is designed to capitalize on this expertise to teach conservation professionals and field scientists the most current methods in the research of bird migration including theoretical concepts, field and laboratory methods, data analysis and applied conservation strategies.

A researcher handles a captured bobolink. Photo by Roslind Renfrew.

Field sessions will involve training in avian sampling techniques including: mist-netting, banding, aging and sexing, digital imagery and morphometrics, tissue sampling, and collecting behavioral observations. Participants will conduct daily, early morning three-hour mist-netting sessions. A tracking module will include stable isotope geochemistry, geolocator deployment and analysis, and radio telemetry and participants spend a full day at the Smithsonian’s Stable Isotope Mass Spectrometry facility in Suitland, MD. A second lab component will consist of workshops on data management and analysis including mark-recapture statistics with Program MARK. Lecture topics will include: migratory connectivity, seasonal interactions, orientation and navigation, radar ornithology, life-cycle analyses, overwinter ecology, ecophysiology, population modeling, threats to migration, and applied conservation strategies. SCBI scientists will lead the course, and guest lecturers from local hot spots of migratory bird work, such as the Smithsonian Institution, American Bird Conservancy, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center will provide students a glimpse into exciting, ongoing research and conservation efforts.

Applicants should have previously completed college-level courses in General Biology, Introductory Statistics, and Ornithology. Applicants should have also completed coursework in at least one of the following: General Ecology, Evolution, Behavioral Ecology, Conservation Biology, Wildlife Ecology or Vertebrate Anatomy/Physiology.

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Dates

September 1-12, 2014

Location

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia

Application Procedure

Migratory Birds is offered through the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation as a professional training course for 6 Continuing Education Credits (CEUs). Applications may be submitted using our Online Application Page. Before beginning our online application, please have .pdf or .doc versions of your updated CV, a Personal Statement of Interest and Qualifications (maximum 350 words), and a Professional Letter of Recommendation. You’ll be asked to attach these with your application.

For first consideration, apply before June 23, 2014

Course Costs

Payment Deadline: July 7, 2013

The total cost for this course is $3,478 (Course fee of $2100 + Housing and Dining Package of $1,378). Those applying as citizens of “less-developed” nations qualify for a reduced course fee of $1200, making the total cost including housing (shared double room) and dining package $2578. Click HERE to check if your country of citizenship qualifies you for the reduced course fee. Your total course payment includes:

  • Registration fees
  • Instruction, course manual, textbooks and other course materials
  • Pick-up and drop-off at Dulles International airport, and transportation for course activities
  • Daily full-service buffet at the SMSC Dining Commons – Dining begins with dinner on Sunday August 31 and ends with brunch on Saturday September 13th.
  • Housing at the SMSC Residential Facility, including a shared room with bathroom (single rooms available at extra cost) – Lodging begins Sunday August 31 and check out is Saturday September 13th.

Scholarships

Scholarships are available on a competitive basis for eligible international applicants. Click HERE for more information on scholarships.

Commuters

Due to early morning field activities, commuting to this course is not encouraged. Special permission must be sought from the instructor.

For more information

Email SCBItraining@si.edu.