Congratulations 2019 Student & Postdoctoral Travel Award Winners

This year, AOS is providing a record amount of travel funding — over $125,000 — to students and postdoctoral researchers attending our upcoming annual meeting in Anchorage, Alaska. These awards make it possible for early-career ornithologists who lack other funding sources to participate in our annual meetings, present their research, and take advantage of professional development opportunities. Congratulations to all of this year’s travel award recipients, and thank you to the awards committee for their hard work in evaluating the applications!

Continue reading “Congratulations 2019 Student & Postdoctoral Travel Award Winners”

2019 Katma Award Winners: Benjamin Winger, Giorgia Auteri, Teresa Pegan, & Brian Weeks

From left, Brian Weeks, Benjamin Winger, Giorgia Auteri, and Teresa Pegan.

In the lead-up to our annual meeting in Anchorage, we’ll be highlighting the winners of this year’s AOS awards on the blog. This week, the 2019 Katma Award.

The American Ornithological Society’s Katma Award is intended to encourage the formulation of new ideas that could challenge long-held accepted views and possibly change the course of thinking about the biology of birds. This award, proposed and sponsored by Dr. Robert W. Storer, is to be given to the author(s) of an outstanding paper related to ornithology and published in any journal that offers unconventional ideas or innovative approaches, backed by a well-reasoned argument.

The American Ornithological Society is pleased to present the 2018 Katma Award to Benjamin M. Winger, Giorgia G. Auteri, Teresa M. Pegan, and Brian C. Weeks of the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology and Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology for their paper “A long winter for the Red Queen: rethinking the evolution of seasonal migration,” which appeared in Biological Reviews in 2018.

Winger and his colleagues provide a cogent review of existing theories for the evolution of migration, but unlike previous authors, they identify migration as just one mechanism that organisms have evolved for dealing with seasonally inhospitable conditions; alternative strategies found in non-avian species include diapause and hibernation, and non-migratory birds possess a variety of other life history strategies for dealing with seasonal conditions as well. The capacity for flight clearly provided birds with the option of geographic escape, but Winger and his coauthors argue that if viewed as only one of several alternative strategies for winter escape, the fundamental connection between all “escape strategies” is to survive and breed in the same place following the return of favorable conditions. Benefits of breeding site fidelity are well documented, and given such benefits, the evolution of migration can be seen as an escape strategy that allows a bird to return to a former breeding location to draw on those reproductive benefits. Without such benefits, there is no selection to remain site faithful, and thus the authors see migration as a means by which organisms travel long distances to ultimately stay in the same place, just as hibernation allows an animal to emerge in spring to breed again in the same place. The authors’ perspective is “agnostic” regarding the geographic origins of migratory behavior (southern home or northern home), is strongly compatible with the importance of studying migratory connectedness between breeding and nonbreeding areas of seasonal residency, and can accommodate idiosyncratic migratory behaviors because migration is viewed as a highly labile trait, but one that comes with the baggage of the species history. Winger et al.’s contribution is an exciting new perspective on migration that justifies it acknowledgment as the 2019 Katma Award winner.

The Katma Award is given only when it is merited, no more than once a year. The award consists of approximately $2,500 plus a certificate and is presented at the annual meeting of the American Ornithological Society. A full explanation of the Katma Award was published in The Condor in 2003.

Congratulations to the 2019 Student & Postdoc Research Award Winners

AOS is proud to recognize the students and postdoctoral researchers who are receiving research funding through our 2019 Student and Postdoctoral Research Awards! These annual awards, each up to $2500, honor early-career ornithologists doing research that advances our understanding of birds and their conservation. The research awards committee puts a great deal of time and thought into evaluating applications each year, and we appreciate their efforts!

Continue reading “Congratulations to the 2019 Student & Postdoc Research Award Winners”

2019 Painton Award Winners: Jason Carlisle, Anna Chalfoun, Kurt Smith, & Jeffrey Beck

From left, Anna Chalfoun, Jeffrey Beck, Jason Carlisle, and Kurt Smith.

In the lead-up to our annual meeting in Anchorage, we’ll be highlighting the winners of this year’s AOS awards on the blog. This week, the 2019 Painton Award.

Every two years, the American Ornithological Society bestows the Harry R. Painton Award for a paper published during the preceding two years in The Condor: Ornithological Applications that has made an exceptional contribution to ornithology. The Harry R. Painton Award for 2019 is presented to Jason D. Carlisle (University of Wyoming and Western EcoSystems Technology, Inc.), Anna D. Chalfoun (US Geological Survey and University of Wyoming), Kurt T. Smith (University of Wyoming), and Jeffrey L. Beck (University of Wyoming) for their paper “Nontarget effects on songbirds from habitat manipulation for Greater Sage-Grouse: Implications for the umbrella species concept,” published in 2018.

The authors addressed what is likely to become an increasingly important issue in avian conservation: do efforts to mitigate and improve conditions for an “umbrella” species actually benefit other “background” species that share their habitat? The authors used a rigorous before-after control-impact design over a three-year period to determine whether management of habitat for the habitat specialist Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) would benefit a trio of songbird species that co-occur with sage-grouse by comparing songbird abundance, nest density, and nest success before and after mowing of sagebrush intended to improve brood-rearing habitat for sage-grouse. The authors showed that mowing benefitted the non-sagebrush specialist Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus), but that the sagebrush-steppe dependent Brewer’s Sparrow (Spizella breweri) and Sage Thrasher (Oreoscoptes montanus) experienced a different fate. Sage Thrasher abundance declined after habitat modification for sage-grouse, while nest abundance dropped to zero for both Brewer’s Sparrow and Sage Thrasher in managed (mowed) habitat. Ultimately, the authors caution that a more “nuanced” view is needed that considers the varied responses of species syntopic with so-called umbrella species and that long time scales are likely needed to evaluate fully the utility of the umbrella species concept.

This year, the AOS Publications Awards Committee felt that two additional papers deserved recognition as runners-up for the Painton Award: “Migratory connectivity of Semipalmated Sandpipers and implications for conservation” by S. Brown, C. Gratto-Trevor, R. Porter, E. L. Weiser, and 19 others, and “Island life and isolation: The population genetics of Pacific Wrens on the North Pacific Rim” by C.L. Pruett, A. Ricono, C. Spern, and K. Winker, both published in The Condor in 2017. The Harry R. Painton Award is given in odd-numbered years and consists of a cash prize of $1,000; funds for the award come from a bequest from Mr. Painton. A list of previous Painton Awardees can be found at

2019 AOS Award Winners Announced

Every year, the American Ornithological Society presents a range of awards honoring members for their stellar contributions to science and their impactful service to the organization. The 2019 recipients will accept their awards at the annual AOS meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, this June. Their work spans the full breadth of avian science, including contributions to evolution, conservation, systematics, and genetics, as well to the profession of ornithology itself. Awardees represent the broad diversity of our members, who are making major contributions to ornithology and to the Society.

“Honoring the achievements of our colleagues is an annual highlight for AOS leadership,” says AOS president Kathy Martin. “Under the northern lights of Anchorage, AOS will recognize a stellar array of ornithologists who will receive these prestigious awards for 2019.”

Continue reading “2019 AOS Award Winners Announced”