The Elliott Coues Award recognizes outstanding and innovative contributions to ornithological research regardless of the geographic location of the work. The AOU established this award in honor of Elliott Coues, a pioneering ornithologist of the western United States and a founding member of the American Ornithologists’ Union. The award consists of a medal and an honorarium provided through the society’s Elliott Coues Achievement Award Fund. Past recipients at this meeting include Michael Sorenson, Scott Edwards, Bob Montgomery, Jeff Walters, and Ellen Ketterson. The 2018 Elliot Coues Award goes to Dr. Peter P. Marra.
Pete is the Head of the Smithsonian Institute Migratory Bird Center. His early research centered on the wintering ecology of American Redstart, and how winter habitat segregation among age and sex classes led to consequences for body condition and departure date. His demonstration, through stable isotope tracers, that birds occupying poorer habitat arrived later on the breeding grounds and that this had important fitness consequences heralded a new focus on carry over effects among migratory songbirds. This and other efforts have been the key impetus for Pete’s development of full life cycle studies in ecology and conservation of songbirds and other taxa. His work has made tremendous contributions to the field of migratory connectivity, fueled by a new wave of technological innovations, to reveal key connections especially among Neotropical migrants. Dr. Marra is also recognized for his contributions to avian conservation, including the documentation of incidental take in the USA from a variety of sources, but most notably the problem of avian mortality due to feral and domestic cats.
In recognition of these contributions to ornithology, AOS is pleased to name Dr. Peter Marra as the 2018 Elliott Coues Award recipient.