Science & Technology

UGA experts available to speak on 2014 State of the Birds

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia has experts available to speak on the 2014 State of the Birds report released today. Published 100 years after the demise of the last passenger pigeon, the report offers an overview of bird population data and trends, highlighting conservation success stories as well as species threatened with extinction.

“The new State of the Birds Report is important because it identifies critical characteristics that will focus our attention on threatened populations,” said John W. Gittleman, dean of the UGA Odum School of Ecology. “As indicated, we now have iconic examples from bald eagles to sea otters showing that our intervention indeed works. Some of our recent research shows that conservation dollars around the world really do make a difference, shifting threatened species to a healthier status. Species biodiversity is too important for the health and sustainability of our planet to become complacent.”

The report points out that birds are indicators of ecosystem health and makes a case for conservation action to keep bird populations from further decline.

“The best way to save an endangered species is to do so before it becomes endangered,” said Bob Cooper, a professor in the UGA Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. “Reports, data and actions that identify and reverse the population trends of declining species give the biggest bang for the conservation dollar.”

The 2014 State of the Birds was produced by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Among our most visible and charismatic wildlife, birds are well-loved by people everywhere. However, birds are also important indicators of ecosystem health-the ‘canaries in a coal mine’ telling us about environmental change across terrestrial and aquatic habitats,” said Richard Hall, an assistant research professor with a joint appointment in the Odum School and the College of Veterinary Medicine. “This report describes not only those species who continue to be imperiled by environmental and anthropogenic change, but also highlights some conservation success stories for our time, such as the phenomenal comeback of the bald eagle.”

The contact information for Gittleman, Hall and Cooper is listed below. The report is available at

John W. Gittleman
Dean and University of Georgia Foundation Professor in Ecology
Odum School of Ecology

Gittleman is available to speak about biodiversity conservation, extinction and global conservation funding. He is an expert on macroecology, using large databases and statistical methods to answer questions about issues including biodiversity and extinction. Recent research includes a study of the pre-human, or background, rate of species extinctions, as well as a study of the relationship between global conservation funding and biodiversity conservation success, for which he and his co-authors received the inaugural Conservation Science Award from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Richard Hall
Assistant Research Professor
Odum School of Ecology and College of Veterinary Medicine Department of Infectious Diseases

Hall is available to speak about bird conservation and migratory species. He uses mathematical models to answer questions about population ecology, disease ecology and conservation. He has studied the impact of human activity on the persistence of rare species and the effects of human-provided food resources on the spread of infectious diseases in wildlife, including birds. He is currently working on understanding the population dynamics and movement patterns of migratory species in response to environmental change, modeling monarch butterflies, a once abundant migratory species whose numbers have plummeted in recent years. He is also president of Oconee Rivers Audubon Society.

Bob Cooper
Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources

Cooper is available to speak about ecosystem approaches to management for bird conservation, birds as indicators of ecosystem health and the impacts of climate change on birds. Cooper has studied birds for almost 40 years and has published over 100 scholarly articles in scientific journals. He has twice won awards from the bird conservation group Partners in Flight, an international organization that takes a science-based approach to saving at-risk bird species and their habitats. His current research includes studies of ecology and conservation of forest songbirds, beach-nesting shorebirds and secretive marsh birds of the tidal marshes of the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.