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BOU conferences update 
Upland birds  |  Avian foodwebs |  Avian tracking

Ecology and conservation
of birds in alpine and
upland habitats

BOU 2014 Annual Conference  |  #BOU14
University of Leicester  |  1 - 3 April 2014

  • Early-bird rates to 14 February - book now!
  • BOU Early-career Researchers - special rates - book now!

Alpine and upland habitats in Europe range from high altitude peaks and meadows to upland woodland, moorland and blanket bog habitats. They occur at higher altitudes or latitudes, and are typified by their low productivity and poor agricultural capabilities. These habitats are generally species poor compared to more diverse lowland habitats, but support a specialised bird community that includes many species of conservation concern. Some of these species, such as those of economic value (e.g. gamebirds) are well studied. Other species are less well known, although knowledge on the ecology and demographics of many species is increasing. This means it is now possible to compare between communities, species ecology and populations between species and across Europe.

The increase in knowledge is timely as upland birds are facing increasing pressures on their populations. Land use is changing in many ways, including agricultural abandonment, intensification, afforestation, changes in management for game, increases in recreational use and expansion of renewable energy generation. Alpine and upland habitats, and hence species, are also regarded as particularly vulnerable to climate change, as upwards and northwards shifts in species’ distributions will reduce the area of suitable land available to occupy. Migratory species also face threats encountered away from their breeding areas. These are therefore potentially amongst the most vulnerable bird species in Europe to environmental change.

This conference will provide an opportunity for state of the art knowledge on ecology and conservation of upland birds from across Europe to be compared and contrasted. It will also allow the pressures on these birds and their habitats, and the likely impact of these pressures on birds, to be shared. Finally, it will discuss the possible responses that are available to conservationists, land managers and policy makers to ensure the conservation of this diverse range of habitats and the species that rely upon them.

The conference will be international in scope, covering alpine and upland habitats across Europe, and is aimed at researchers and students, conservation organisations, statutory government agencies and those engaged in policy, advocacy and conservation management.

The conference aims to:

  • present the state of the art knowledge on alpine and upland bird ecology and populations, and how these vary between species and across Europe;
  • highlight major pressures on upland bird populations and their habitats;
  • and consider what the future may hold for upland birds, and what conservationists and land managers can do to maintain populations.

The conference organising team are Graeme Buchanan (RSPB, BOU Meetings Committee member and Chairman of the Conference Programme Committee), Dan Chamberlain (University of Turin), James Pearce-Higgins (British Trust for Ornithology) and Des Thompson (Scottish Natural Heritage).

Follow on Twitter and Facebook - #BOU14

Avian Tracking

and remote sensing
2015 Annual Conference  |  #BOU2015
University of Leicester | 31 Mar - 2 Apr 2015

This conference will highlight the role of telemetry in understanding the ecology and behaviour of free-living wild birds. Continuing advances in instrumentation and miniaturization are rapidly making remote-sensing of movements, activity and physiology available and cost-effective for all but the smallest species. This conference will showcase and consolidate the most recent research arising from these advances, emphasizing the value of telemetry for both testing theory and aiding conservation and management. The advantages of integrated and multifaceted approaches will be a key feature of the conference, as will new developments and opportunities in this rapidly-advancing field.

More details  |  #BOU2015

Birds in the entangled bank: advanced in foodweb theory and practice
Peterborough, UK
19 Nov 2014


The past decade has seen significant advances in the theoretical understanding, construction, analysis and application of complex species interaction networks. Ecological networks describe the interactions between species, the underlying structure of communities and the function and stability of ecosystems. While there have been many bird-oriented studies focussing on particular interactions, such as seed dispersal mutualisms and predator-prey relationships, there have been few attempts to embed birds within wider ecological networks. Recent advances in ecological network theory and molecular techniques amongst others offer the opportunity to study complex interactions across multiple trophic levels from local to landscape scales

More details  |  #BOU2014


SciLogs -
three reasons why blogging helps research productivity

Read the SciLog article

# How to support biodiversity with ecological focus areas
EFAs need a minimal quality to be effective
Read post

# What say ye, countrymen, to a Jabber of Jays
Should the collective noun for jays be changed to a 'jabber'?
Read post

# Ornithological Twitterati, Tweetie-pies and #birdieluv
It's amazing how much good will you get from a little sharing
Read post

# What have conservation scientists ever done for birds?
Conservation scientists need to be better at telling others about their findings if we want more conservation action and impact
Read post

# What do we know about the effect of disease on Turtle Dove?
The Turtle Dove is in serious decline across northern Europe. To understand what may be behind this declines, all aspects of the species' ecology is being investigated, including the effects of disease.
Do you fancy writing a blog post for us? We'll consider suggestions on any ornithological topic. 

Contact the BOU Office for further info.

Some recent tweets


How to improve agri-environment schemes to achieve meadow bird conservation in Europe?   J Ornithol #birds #science


Modelling impact of road #mortality on barn #owl #populations  Ecological Modelling #birds #collision #science


Plastic #ingestion by #shearwaters and accumulation of chemicals  @thelabandfield #pollution #birds #science

Interspecific Parental Care by a Wood Thrush at a Nest of the Veery @WilsonOrnithSoc #birds #science

Science blogging course - how to find great science stories, cover and share them  @guardian HT @GrrlScientist


RT @ManxBirdLife Manx BirdLife is also advertising for a Chief Operating Officer - on the #IsleofMan See... 


Shiny Cowbird Parasitism on Brown-and-Yellow Marshbird - Complementary Host Defenses  Condor @BioOneNews


RT @Jazzy_jeff44 @IBIS_journal Uplands Conference tickets booked. Will I see any of the other #TweetiePies there? #BOU14


Edge effects of forest plantations on peatland waders informs landscape-scale conservation  @JAppliedEcology #birds


Citizen science and the role of productivity in House Sparrow population trends  @_BTO Bird Study #birds #science


Avian mortalities due to transmission line collisions  Avian Conserv Ecol #OA


Inferring seabird activity budgets from leg-mounted time–depth recorders  J Ornithol


RT @hannahmrowland New paper from @camolab Disruptive colouration also interferes with higher-level feature integration  in @plosone


Habitat selection of Rock Ptarmigan in Switzerland, Claire Pernollet at #BOU14 upland and alpine #birds conference 

A First Estimate for Canada of the Number of Birds Killed by Colliding with Building Windows  Avian Conserv Ecol #OA


Generating #population estimates for common and widespread #breeding #birds in Ireland  @_BTO Bird Study


Tumbes, plantcutters and people  Stuart Marsden's conservation research group blog #birds #science


Phylogenetic origin of the endemic pigeons from Madeira (Columba trocaz) and Azores Islands  J Ornithol

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Other recent news
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  • Branta - send us your MSc or PhD abstract to host online alongside other ornithological theses abstracts. More details
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Image credits: Left hand column: Alpine Accentor © Steve Dudley; Migrating Black-crowned Night-herons and Purple Herons © Steve Dudley | Centre column: Malachite Sunbird (Nectarinia famosa) nectaring on Leonotis flower © Steve Garvie 
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