2021 GoMAMN Community of Practice Meeting Summary

Over 100 participants representing more than 40 private, academic, state, and federal organizations attended the 2021 Gulf of Mexico Avian Monitoring Network (GoMAMN) virtual Community of Practice (CoP) meeting this past October. The meeting included general group and breakout sessions. General session topics included:

  • The history, structure and function of GoMAMN
  • An overview of GoMAMN’s 2019 Strategic Bird Monitoring Guidelines for the Northern Gulf of Mexico
  • Current coordinated regional bird monitoring and restoration efforts
  • An update on GoMAMN’s avian monitoring gap analysis project
  • A discussion of how GoMAMN Coordination Committee and the guild- and topic-specific Working Groups can interact to move Working Group priorities forward over the next 1-3 years
  • A discussion of mentoring needs and opportunities
  • Communications planning

General sessions were recorded and are available here.

There were a series of concurrent sessions hosted by GoMAMN guild- and topic-specific Working Group Chairs. Synopses of the sessions for some of the Working Groups are provided below.

Avian Health Working Group

Co-Chairs: Terri Maness, Louisiana Tech University and Jacquie Grace, Texas A&M University

  • As attendees joined, they filled out an introductory poll which queried their interests, geographic locations, and type of work (e.g., research, monitoring, veterinary).
  • Group co-chair, Terri Maness provided an overview of the Avian Health working group and discussed current (e.g., review paper on links between ecotoxins, disease, and climate change for birds in the Gulf) and finished projects within the group (e.g., the Avian Health chapter of the Guidelines).
  • Group co-chair Jacquie Grace went over results from the introductory poll. Attendees:
    • worked in states including Louisiana, Texas, Florida, Alabama, Illinois, Florida, Oregon, and Colorado. 
    • primarily worked at universities, but also for Audubon, USGS, EPA, and various parks, reserves, and non-profits, and primarily aligned themselves with academia, followed by NGO’s, then state agencies, then federal agencies and veterinary work
    • primarily worked with landbirds, followed by seabirds, marshbirds, then shorebirds and wading birds, and finally waterfowl, and raptors.
    • included experts in body condition, size and weight, toxicology, immunology/disease ecology/parasitology, endocrinology/reproductive/stress physiology, microbiomes, nutrition/metabolism, and mortality events.
    • were primarily interested in collecting data on body condition, toxicology, and diseases
  • The remainder of the meeting was spent discussing future priorities. They ranked these priorities using a survey following discussion. These are presented in ordered rank, below.
    • 1) Survey of avian health data being collected for the GoM – who is collecting what, where?  This would give us an idea of current gaps in knowledge, as well as facilitate collaborations.
    • 2) Creation of a protocol repository for health metrics for wild birds, including how to collect samples, how to preserve them, and references to laboratory analysis protocols.
    • 3) Online inventory of current existing samples that need to be analyzed.  This would facilitate collaborations between researchers and managers.  E.g., many people collect feathers, but aren’t using them for analysis.
      • Through discussion, it became apparent that some inventories already exist, and that we may just need to advertise the use of these within the GoM, more (very few projects currently report to these inventories for the GoM)
    • 4) Data sharing and collaboration between and within the rehabilitation community.
    • 5) Building out the avian health network and increasing awareness of the value of avian health data
    • 6) Creation of a decision tree for managers to use when collecting avian health data in the field.
    • 7) A review paper on measures of health for wild birds and fitness implications.
  • The group also discussed ways to increase collaboration, discussion, and community-building within the group.  We will implement several things moving forward:
    • Creation of a Slack for discussion
    • Creation of a listserv to send out public webinars of interest, grant opportunities, share working group news, etc . . .
    • Virtual avian health seminar series every other month, with presentations from members of the working group, or beyond.
    • Zoom meeting for the group every other month (alternating with seminars) for discussion of working group goals and how to achieve them.

For more information, or to be included in future Avian Health Working Group correspondence, contact Terri Maness (tmaness@latech.edu) or Jacquie Grace (jkgrace@exchange.tamu.edu).

Landbird Working Group

Co-Chairs: T.J. Zenzal, U.S. Geological Survey and Bill Vermillion, Gulf Coast Joint Venture

  • The GoMAMN Landbird Working Group meeting included four presentations highlighting landbird monitoring and research along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coast. T.J. Zenzal with the U.S. Geological Survey presented on USGS landbird research, including a multi-discipline project combining landbird migration data derived from weather radar data, field data, and geospatial modeling to investigate available food energy and food energy demand from transient landbird migrants (more info here).
  • Katie Percy with Audubon Delta described how they and partners are marking and tracking Prothonotary Warblers (Protonotaria citrea)(more info here).
  • Jim Cox with Tall Timbers provided information on Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla), Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Dryobates borealis), and Bachman’s Sparrow (Peucaea aestivalis) monitoring programs and Tall Timbers has utilized interns to contribute to these multi-year efforts (more info here).
  • Bill Vermillion with the Gulf Coast Joint Venture partnership described the Coastal Grassland Restoration Incentive Program monitoring program, which will measure impacts of grassland conservation actions on a set of grassland-dwelling landbirds (more info here).
  • The remainder of the meeting included group brainstorming about potential near term (next 1-3 years) focal areas for the group. Monitoring stopover migrant landbirds and overwintering landbirds, especially in restored pine savannah habitat, were discussed.
  • Potential collaboration with the Renewable Energy and Avian Health Working Groups was identified.

For more information, or to be included in future Landbird Working Group correspondence, contact T.J. Zenzal (tzenzal@usgs.gov) or Bill Vermillion (william_vermillion@fws.gov).

Mentoring Program

Chair: Mary Ann Ottinger, University of Houston

  • Input from the Fall 2021 GoMAMN Community of Practice meeting
    • Great deal of interest in a mentoring program, but how it should be organized and primary ‘to do’ activities and actions still need thought
    • Some ideas are to partner with other groups that have ongoing mentoring programs and learn from them
    • Also interest in regular (~4 times/year) seminars with discussion around selected topics
    • Participants from all phases of their career are important to make a mentoring program relevant
    • Networking is a key aspect of career development
  • Next steps:  present a summary with some potential action items
    • Work closely with communication lead and group
    • Ask Working Groups for their input as to topic areas of interest
    • See if we can add discussion/networking to seminars planned within working groups and partner with them on join activities

For more information, or to be included in future Mentoring Program correspondence, contact Mary Ann Ottinger (maotting@central.uh.edu).

Seabird Working Group

Co-Chairs: Evan Adams, Biodiversity Research Institute, and Terri Maness, Louisiana Tech University

The seabird working group started with presentations on the current research in the group ranging from at-sea survey work from GoMAPPS (more info here), Brown Pelican research from the Jodice Lab (more info here), waterbird colony monitoring from Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, coastal bird monitoring from Audubon Delta, and health impacts on waterfowl from Jim Paruk (more info here). After these updates, we discussed several goals for the coming year including:

  • Synthesizing information from the seabird gap analysis.
  • Compiling a database of known seabird data sets to increase data discoverability.
  • Supporting efforts to understand better the effects of offshore wind on seabirds in the region.

Creating a database to deliver seabird data and data products to stakeholders was discussed. While we would need significant financial support to achieve that goal, we are continuing our efforts to find those funds.

For more information, or to be included in future Seabird Working Group correspondence, contact Evan Adams (evan.adams@briloon.org) or Terri Maness (tmaness@latech.edu).

Shorebird Working Group

Co-Chairs: Melanie Driscoll, Phoenix Rising LLC, and Kiah Williams, Tulane University

  • Melanie Driscoll introduced the session objective, which was to re-engage with the Shorebird Working Group by identifying 1-year and 3-to-5-year needs and priorities from the strategic monitoring guidelines for the northern Gulf of Mexico.
  • Melanie overviewed a NOAA RESTORE Grant that measures the effects of stewardship and post-restoration management on coastal bird conservation (more info here).
  • Melanie Driscoll and Jessica Schulz lead the group through examples of monitoring priorities, how they relate to the gap analysis data on monitoring programs and key ecological processes within the strategic guidelines, and what management actions could be implemented to address uncertainties.
  • The remainder of the meeting was a listening session, dedicated to discussing future priorities including:
    • Data Synthesis
      • Providing data from smaller, local projects that could contribute to a larger effort
      • Repository of monitoring efforts and data types to address specific research questions
    • Direct restoration efforts post-hurricanes
    • Linking limitations across the full annual cycle

For more information, or to be included in future Shorebird Working Group correspondence, contact Melanie Driscoll (melaniedriscoll3@gmail.com) or Kiah Williams (kwilliams2@tulane.edu).

Waterfowl Working Group

Co-Chairs: Joe Lancaster, Gulf Coast Joint Venture, and Randy Wilson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

  • Group chair, Randy Wilson delivered an overview of the role and history of the waterfowl working group. He also outlined the overarching goals of the meeting, which were to understand current working group activities and identify group needs.
  • Jessica Schulz delivered a presentation outlining preliminary results of the Waterfowl Monitoring Gap Analysis. The presentation wrapped up with a timeline for report development and a request for waterfowl working group members to review and assist finalizing the report.
  • The remainder of the meeting was spent discussing future priorities. The group utilized an online whiteboard that allowed real-time anonymous idea sharing related to three topics:
    • 1) Tasks/needs for the next 1-3 years,
      • Numerous topics were shared and discussed generally related to four overarching themes: the Gap analysis; people engagement; improving access/storage and utility of collected monitoring data; and understanding/evaluating new technologies available for monitoring.
    • 2) Needs from participating agencies/organizations or the waterfowl group as a whole from GoMAMN or its coordination committee; and
      • Limited conversation around this topic, but a general need for expertise and assistance with identifying, applying for, and designing large-scale monitoring efforts. Was also some desire for cross working group collaboration.
    • 3) potential overlap with other working groups.
      • Collaborations around avian health and other waterbird groups were identified. Additional consideration for mentoring/recruiting next generation but unsure what role the waterfowl working group or GoMAMN should play.

For more information, or to be included in future Waterfowl Working Group correspondence, contact Joe Lancaster (jlancaster@ducks.org).