A day at the museum | #BOUasm25

18 November 2025


Natural History Museum, London & Zoom & X (Twitter)
BOU autumn 2025 conference


A day at the museum: collections-based ornithological research in a changing world

Conference theme, aims and scope

There are millions of avian specimens in museums throughout the world. Each one is a rich repository of data about the individual animal and the environment it experienced while it was alive. Many of these environments no longer exist, making museum specimens unique and irreplaceable archives of a changing world. How are researchers unlocking these data, and what exciting questions are they using them to answer?

This is not, however, just about the past. We also need to think about what avian material we might want to collect now and into the future, so we can track the impacts of future environmental changes on wild birds. We need to help shape the museums of the future.

Ultimately collections past, present and future are made to facilitate research on wild birds in a changing world. To unlock existing collections and plan future ones, therefore, we need to better understand the art of the possible. In other words, what are the current and future directions in collections-based ornithological research, and how do we unlock collections and plan future collecting to support these?

Addressing this question will be the primary aim of the conference. We will bring together researchers to explore the frontiers of collections-based ornithological research, including innovative approaches being developed to unlock the data in collections, and exciting new directions in environmental change research. The conference will also include a discussion session on the future of ornithological collecting – what should we be collecting and why, and how do we support collections to ensure they are both safe and accessible to the research community now and into the future?

Key dates

We’ll be opening the call for keynote nominations in late summer 2024. Once open, please submit any nominations for keynote speakers here.

The call for abstracts (oral and X(Twitter)-only presentations) will open in early 2025.

Our parallel conference format

The BOU strives to make all our events inclusive and accessible. To help achieve this we run all in-person and virtual Zoom conferences as dual platforms events with an X(Twitter) conference running alongside the main in-person/virtual event.

For example, our BOUsci20 virtual Zoom event attracted an ‘in-the-room’ audience of 375 registrants, but the parallel X(Twitter) event had over 550 participants, an ‘in-the-room’ audience of >1,600 people and a wider reach of 750,000 – from right around the world.

Every presenter at an in-person/virtual event will post a summary of their presentation as part of the parallel X(Twitter) event. Presenters are provided with extensive guidelines on how to post their presentation on X(Twitter), and are able to use either their personal or institutional account. If neither of these are available, then we the BOU social media team will be on hand to discuss other options to enable participation.

Scientific Programme Committee

Ken Norris | Chair | Natural History Museum, UK
Alex Bond | Natural History Museum, UK
Shane Dubay | University of Texas at Arlington, USA
Catriona Morrison | University of East Anglia, UK & BOU Meetings Committee
Gavin Thomas | University of Sheffield, UK
Andreanna Welch | Durham University, UK

Tring bird collection (banner) | © The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London
Skin curation (top small) | © The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London
Tring bird collection (bottom) | © The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London/a>

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