MSU to host North American conference ‘Birds in the Anthropocene’

American Ornithological Society and the Society of Canadian Ornithologists will host joint meeting for first time

American Goldfinch.
American Goldfinch. Photo courtesy of flickr user j_benson.

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Researchers and bird enthusiasts from all over North America will gather at Michigan State University (MSU) July 31-Aug. 5 for North America’s largest scientific conference dedicated to the study of birds.

Bird species worldwide are learning how to live in and depend on man-made environments for their long-term persistence. The theme of the conference, therefore, is  “Birds in the Anthropocene” (human-influenced).

“The last time this meeting was hosted in Michigan was in 1960,” said Jen Owen, associate professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at MSU. “It’s a rare and exciting opportunity to be hosting it here.”

It’s the first time that the American Ornithological Society and the Society of Canadian Ornithologists will hold a joint meeting.

The program, which is student-friendly and affordable, will provide in-depth exploration of important advances in ornithological research and opportunities for networking and socializing with others in the ornithological family.

“Birds in the Anthropocene” will encourage a broad discussion of avian biology and conservation in human-dominated environments. Beyond this, participants can expect a diverse program that reflects on the work being done across fields and topics ranging from science communication to birds in agriculture. Several field trips to experience Michigan’s birds are also slated.

“The theme of the conference — ‘Birds in the Anthropocene’ — highlights work being done in Michigan, the Great lakes and around the world,” Owen said. “Ornithologists working with people in food production are finding ways to conserve birds and their habitat needs while maintaining food production practices. It’s about balance — prevent loss of biodiversity and important ecosystems services but meet the needs of our human population.”

Plenary speakers such as Erin Bayne, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta; Amanda Rodewald, the Garvin Professor of Ornithology and director of Conservation Science at the Lab of Ornithology and in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University; and Michael Sorenson, the associate dean of the Faculty for the Natural Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences at Boston University, will be sharing their expansive knowledge.

Organizers are working to lower the carbon footprint of the conference, Owen said.

 “We are working toward significantly reducing the carbon footprint of these meetings by using locally sourced and sustainable foods, biodegradable paper products and lower waste options. These are some of the dramatic steps that we hope will become the standard for meetings in the future,” Owen said.

Registration and more information are available at

Photo Credit: ibm4381 Flickr via cc

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