Written by Meredith Gutowski/WHSRN
From 11–15 August, Simon Fraser University-Burnaby near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, became the Western Hemisphere’s “headquarters” of shorebird conservation. During this time, more than 150 professionals and advanced-degree students gathered to attend Western Hemisphere Shorebird Group (WHSG) Conference IV. Participants came from 11 countries in this hemisphere, plus Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand. The WHSG was formed in 2006 by a range of partners to collaboratively advance the work of shorebird scientists and conservationists throughout the hemisphere.
The event was a major success, thanks in large part to the inexhaustible dedication and efforts by conference coordinators Dov Lank and Ron Ydenberg. Both are professors at the University’s Centre for Wildlife Ecology and active members of WHSG. Dov and Ron, together with their many graduate students, colleagues, and local partners, masterfully handled a dizzying array of logistics to provide an excellent forum for advancing the work of WHSG.
Throughout the 5-day conference, there was a constant hum of activity in the meeting halls from participants attending and giving presentations, renewing old and making new friendships, and, through introductions, shrinking the distance between potential partners from opposite latitudes to that of a handshake; but above all, sharing ideas and learning from one another.
The conference had several purposes: to bring together in one location scientists from throughout the Western Hemisphere who are studying all aspects of shorebirds’ lives; to promote their collaboration, especially on range-wide studies and conservation actions for any given species; to integrate science into the implementation of various shorebird conservation plans and actions; and to generate enthusiasm and camaraderie among the shorebird community to ensure collaborative research and conservation into the future.
Several groups took advantage of the opportunity for its members to meet in conjunction with the conference, such as the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan Council and the Shorebird Recovery Project (SRP) team from Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences. For some on the SRP team it was their first time meeting in person!
In addition to the excellent plenary talks and presentations, the conference included an evening poster session, field trip to Boundary Bay, social gatherings, and a silent auction. As always, proceeds from the auction will go towards travel awards that will help Latin American students attend the next conference.
We appreciate the many colleagues and students who, during their presentations, thanked WHSRN, Manomet, or an SRP team member(s) for supporting them, for sharing ideas, for catalyzing a project.
Charles Duncan presents a plaque to 2000 Pablo Canevari Award winner Patricia Gonzalez. / Courtesy of Diego Luna Quevedo
Charles Duncan, Director of the WHSRN Executive Office at Manomet, had the honor of introducing Argentine biologist Patricia González for the final plenary talk of the conference, entitled “Science and Conservation of Migratory Shorebirds, A Case Study of Red Knots in Patagonia, Argentina.” Charles took the opportunity to also clear a long-overdue debt and presented Patricia with the plaque that now accompanies an award she received from Manomet in 2000! Patricia was the first recipient of the Pablo Canevari Memorial Award, but it was not until recently that we created a plaque to go with the award. She graciously received her plaque 11 years belated with both surprise and grateful tears.
The next WHSG conference will be in 2013 in Santa Marta, Colombia, at the generous invitation ofAsociación Calidris. The Manomet SRP/WHSRN team is looking forward to participating in the WHSG Conference V, collectively shaping the way forward for shorebird conservation at an enormous geographic scale. We have all committed to the requisite team challenge to learn (or relearn) to dance salsa by then—will you?