All the News from Portland, OregonBy Hugh Powell
August 4, 2008
For the next week on Round Robin, we’re giving you a break from helping us redesign our website. Instead, we’re going you a chance to fill up on breaking science news.
Starting tomorrow, I’ll be reporting live from North America’s largest meeting of ornithologists. A thousand or more have gathered in Portland, Oregon, to discuss new findings covering everything from eiders to antbirds and wind power to climate change.
The four-day meeting features more than 75 concurrent sessions, each containing about 10 separate, 15-minute scientific talks. In each talk, a scientist tries to explain his or her last several years of research, covering everything from the idea stage through field work to analysis, while a session moderator stands off to one side with a stopwatch. With so many simultaneous talks, staying on schedule is taken very seriously.
Most scientists pick a few sessions in their area of interest and settle in. My challenge will be to ferret out interesting talks on all subjects and post them here – whether it’s the problem of feral cats or invasive shrubs on Tuesday; avian detective stories on Wednesday; endemic birds of the Himalayas and whether subspecies are real on Thursday; or how birds deal with pollution and toxicity on Friday, not to mention the other 700-odd talks in the program.
And that’s not counting evening activities like the avian poetry reading or the student quiz bowl. I hope you’ll read along.
(Image: the Portland meeting logo. The meeting encompasses members of the Cooper Ornithological Society, the American Ornithologists’ Union, and the Society for Canadian Ornithologists. Those are their mascots, dressed up as Lewis [the Coopers’ California Condor], Clark [the AOU’s Great Auk], and Sacagawea [the Canadians’ dapper Black-backed Woodpecker]).
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