E-Bird Meetings

Past Activities

Future Network activities

The Network aims to bring together avian ecologists and physiologists/endocrinologists, to facilitate exchange of knowledge between these fields and to stimulate collaborative research, through the following activities:


One of our major tools to achieve the Network goals will be to organize a series of workshops around topics of interest to both research fields. At these workshops, the emphasis will be on discussion directed at generating combined ecological and endocrinological projects at the forefront of science. During the exploratory ESF/NSF workshop in September 2002 a number of topics for workshops were proposed. If the network receives funding from ESF, NSF and NSERC, there will be three workshops focussed on specific topics, one per year, with one in Europe, one in the USA and one in Canada, with a final jointly-organised workshop at the end of the 3-year funding period. The Canadian workshop will include the ESF/NSF partners but will also involve additional time devoted to Canadian issues/research projects. By having three, annual workshops we will be able to deal with specific topics in more detail which will generate more focussed discussion, rather than having a single, larger meeting which is likely to be less productive. During the exploratory ESF/NSF workshop in September 2002 the following topics for workshops were proposed (in each case organised by an endocrinologist and an ecologist, and a European and a North American, provided that the NSF/NSERC applications are successful):

Workshop 2: Maternal effects (Pat Monaghan/Hubert Schwabl) Seattle, USA, September 2005

More information about Workshop 2 is available from Ebird USA.

Workshop 3: Individual variation (Ben Sheldon/Tony Williams), Vancouver, Canada, March 15–18 2006

This meeting will run for 4 days (Wed–Sat) and will incorporate two meetings in one (the hope is that most participants will be present for the full 4-days of the meeting):

  1. There will be two days of talks and discussion with a focus on Canadian or Arctic birds and mammals and effects of climate variability/change (Wed/Thurs); most talks will be by invitation, and will provide overviews of our state of knowledge for the main avian or mammalian taxa, such as seabirds, shorebirds, passerines, hibernators, etc. There will be an opportunity for a smaller number of contributed talks (15 min) and poster presentations.

  2. Days three and four (Fri/Sat) will be the third E-BIRD workshop on 'Individual variation'. Variation within populations is the raw material without which evolution cannot occur; understanding the consequences of variation, the sources of that variation, and the mechanisms by which variation is maintained in natural populations remain central goals of field biology. While the study of all three questions represents a standard approach in ecology, this is less true for endocrinology, and even less the case for studies that seek to integrate ecology and endocrinology.

This workshop will seek to determine how to make progress towards solving the key questions that an individual-based approach would ask with respect to ecological endocrinology. Key questions which could be considered are: (i) to what extent does variation in physiological measures across individuals represent short-term variation (sampling error), and to what extent are there repeatable differences across individuals?; (ii) can differences in physiological measures across individuals be explained by processes occurring over short-term, and longer-term time scales? For example, how much variation is due to behavioural plasticity, and how much due to environmental, parental, or origin-specific effects?; (iii) how much of individual variation reflects differences in the specific state of control mechanisms, and how much differences in control mechanisms between individuals?; and (iv) can we study variation in the physiological control mechanisms that influence ecologically important traits in ecologically realistic conditions?; (v) how do we design experiments to incorporate individual variation, e.g. how important are "baseline", pre-treatment measurements and repeated measures designs vs. cross-sectional designs?; is there such a thing as a true physiological/endocrinological “baseline”. Some other ideas to ponder ?!

poorly correlated data With data like these should we focus on the (statistically) significant line which explains ~10% of the variation in the data; or should we focus more on explaining the huge variability in the y-variable for any particular value of the x-variable (i.e. what explains the “other” 90% of the variation)?

yolk variation Here, if the average variation in yolk hormone levels has positive effects on offspring phenotype (e.g. in relation to hatching asynchrony), why don't individuals 1 & 2 (which have much higher absolute hormone levels) produce super-chicks capable of out-begging all others? Is this individual optimisation at the physiological level?

In order to maximise discussion of ideas, speakers for contributed talks will be limited to 10-minute presentations in various sessions in which they should describe, explore, or explain some aspect of the variability in their data or study system, in the context of the questions above (rather than the traditional means and SD approach!). There will also be opportunities for poster presentations.

Anyone interested in attending this meeting should contact Tony Williams, tdwillia@sfu.ca.

Workshop 4: Final workshop at end of the 3 years (Lambrechts/Visser/Wingfield/Williams)

The final workshop aims to present an overview of studies in progress that resulted from collaborations established in the international collaborative network. This will enable us to assess to what extent the network has been able to stimulate interactions between endocrinologists and ecologists during the last three years. This meeting will provide the necessary information required for the preparation of a collaborative research programme proposal to financially support integrated research combining endocrinological and ecological approaches.

Representatives from laboratories that were not involved in the initial Network will be invited to this final workshop. This will enable us to extend the existing network to countries that were not initially involved, in order to develop a broader integrated research platform focusing on impacts of environmental changes on different aspects of avian reproduction.

Technical meetings

More information about the Technical Meetings is available from Ebird Europe.

Exchange visits

Inter-laboratory exchange visits can play an important role in developing collaboration. Especially exchange visits between endocrinologists and ecologists aimed at the development of collaborative projects or grant proposals will be encouraged. We envisage that in total 10 exchange visits will be supported in the 3 years the Network will run. Applications for inter-laboratory exchange visits will be assessed by the Steering Committee of the respective host country, who will also set the budget for each of these visits. We will try and target young researchers (graduate students and PDFs) for these exchange visits.

Copyright 2005, E-Bird Canada. Last modified 2005-10-02.

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