Evolutionary responses | #BOU2023

4 April 2023


6 April 2023


Nottingham, UK
BOU 2023 annual conference

Rapid evolutionary and plastic responses of birds to environmental change


Call for abstracts

The call for in-person presentation abstracts has now closed. A call for posters and Twitter-only presentations will open shortly.

Alfred Newton Lecture

Prof Jane Reid
University of Aberdeen, UK & Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway

Jane’s research aims to provide integrated empirical and theoretical understanding of how ecological and evolutionary processes can combine to shape individual life-histories and drive population dynamics in nature.

Keynote presenters

The following keynote presenters are confirmed. More to follow!

Prof Anne Charmantier
Center for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology (CEFE), France

Great Tits in the city: a tale of (mal)adaptation?

Anne’s main research interests are focused on understanding the mechanisms involved in the evolution of adaptive traits, especially in a context of rapid anthropogenic changes.

Dr Arild Husby
Uppsala University, Sweden

What role do epigenetic mechanisms play in avian adaptation? A case study of seasonal timing of reproduction

Arild has a deep interest in understanding the genetic basis of phenotypic plasticity, from the quantitative genetic to the molecular level

Dr Caroline Isaksson
Department of Biology, Lund University, Sweden

The cocktail of urban pollutants and its impacts on birds

Caroline’s research focus is to understand the impacts of urbanisation on birds using a broad repertoire of approaches and techniques to disentangle the effects and responses caused by different urban factors.

Prof Ben Sheldon FRS
Edward Grey Institute, University of Oxford, UK

Evolution of phenology in a spatio-temporal context

Ben has long been interested in questions at the interface of ecology, evolution and behaviour, and has found long-term population studies of birds to offer particularly rich opportunities for this kind of work.

Dr Samantha Patrick
University of Liverpool, UK

Optimising movement decisions in a changing environment

Sam’s research focuses on the importance of movement, parental care and behaviour on life-history traits. She is particularly interested in polar seabirds and the implications of a changing climate on behaviour.

Dr Daniel Sol
Research at the Centre of Ecological Research and Applied Forestries (CREAF), Spain

Behaviour, life history and persistence in novel environments

Daniel’s lab seeks to understand how animals respond to changes and what are the consequences for biodiversity. To this purpose, we combine theoretical models, experiments and comparatives approaches.

Dr Rose Thorogood
University of Helsinki, Finland

Does social information use help or hinder Reed Warblers vs. Cuckoos coevolving in a geographic mosaic?

Rose’s research group combines approaches from field biology to genomics. They investigate how individuals learn from each other, and how this affects their evolution and resilience to environmental change.

Aims and scope

We are living in a time of rapid environmental change, where humans are altering the climate and transforming land cover. These anthropogenic changes are occurring worldwide and at unprecedented rates, with pervasive and irreversible consequences on biodiversity. This is particularly visible in avian communities, which may respond to human pressures in a variety of ways. In fact, while these environmental changes have resulted in the declines and losses of some birds, other species may be able to cope or even thrive in changing environments. Adaptation is a potential mechanism that could allow species to persist in the face of environmental change (i.e. ‘evolutionary rescue’). Rapid evolutionary responses of birds to environmental change can be seen in, for example, changes in beak size and shape in response to bird feeders; changes in migration timing in response to climate change; or resistance to novel and emerging pathogens. But evolutionary responses may be limited by, for example, low adaptive potential, plasticity, or using ‘wrong’ environmental cues. Furthermore, species may differ in their responses to environmental change, resulting in de-coupling of species interactions. Understanding which populations and species may be able to adapt fast enough, and under which conditions, is essential for predicting how birds, as well as the ecosystems they inhabit, will respond to future environmental changes.

This conference will bring together researchers, students and conservation practitioners from across the globe to discuss and share high quality research and cutting-edge ideas in how species could respond to change. The conference aims to encompass both observed rapid evolutionary responses, evolutionary potential, as well as observed lack of rapid evolutionary response or limits to the ability to respond.

The conference will aim to cover the following topics:

  • Evolution of phenology;
  • Species interactions;
  • Movement and space use;
  • Evolutionary responses to pollution;
  • Evolutionary responses to emerging/novel pathogens;
  • Non-genetic inheritance;
  • Evolutionary responses to invasive species;
  • Evolutionary responses to urbanisation and other anthropogenic land-use changes.

Parallel conference format

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

Every presenter at a in-person/virtual now tweets a summary of their in-person/virtual presentation as part of the parallel Twitter event. We will also include additional Twitter-only presentations during the breaks of the in-person/virtual event.

Recent virtual Zoom events have attracted an ‘in-the-room’ audience up to 3x that of an in-person event. Parallel Twitter events are delivering a like-for-like ‘in-the-room’ audience of up to 12x the in-person audience (and a wider reach of up to 750,000).

Unlike other social media platforms, Twitter is genuinely open access as you don’t even need an account to follow the Twitter event content. The BOU knows Twitter inside out having championed its use to promote ornithological research for the last decade and we’ve been running and sponsoring Twitter conferences for some years. Because of this take-up within our community is very high – 75% of BOU2019 delegates were on Twitter!

Presenters are provided with extensive guidelines on how to tweet your presentation on Twitter, and you will be able to use either your personal or institute account. If neither of these are available, then we the BOU social media team will be on hand to discuss other options for you to present your work on Twitter.

See also Presenting at a Twitter conference

Scientific Programme Committee

Amanda Trask | Zoological Society of London, UK & BOU Meetings Committee (Chair)
Ferran Sayol | University College London, UK
Emily Simmonds | Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway
Jelmer Samplonius | University of Edinburgh, UK
Michela Corsini | University of Warsaw, Poland
María Moirón | Institute of Avian Research, Germany

Image credits
Banner: Siberian Stonechat | Mprasannak CC BY SA 4.0 Wikimedia Commons
Top right: Great Tit nest with eggs | nottsexminer CC BY SA 2.0 Wikimedia Commons

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