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Recognition, Achievements, Findings

PRBO Highlights

Missy Wipf instructs children in the Bird Education and Awareness in Communities program (see below). Photo by Lizzie Condon.
The Desert Bird Conservation Plan, newly released by PRBO and California Partners in Flight, can help land managers improve habitat for bird populations in the Mojave and Sonoran desert regions. This and other conservation plans from PRBO use select bird species as indicators of habitat status. Learn more at

The Wildlife Society-Western Section recognized PRBO as "Conservationist of the Year" at their annual conference in late January.

Grant Ballard, Director of PRBO's Informatics Division, has earned his PhD from the University of Aukland in New Zealand. His dissertation focuses on the mechanisms underlying the size and growth patterns of Adélie Penguin colonies in the Ross Sea area of Antarctica.

Sampling from PRBO findings and perspectives in the news lately:

· Marin Independent Journal, January 15, 2010—Cassin's Auklet breeding success on the Farallon Islands correlates with the numbers of Chinook salmon running up the Sacramento River the following season, as found by Jen Roth.

· Natural Selections, January 2010—In this Department of Defense newsletter, John Wiens outlines the use of climate-change models for managing ecologically rich lands that DOD owns in California.

· San Francisco Chronicle, November 4, 2009, and Bay Nature, January 2010.—White sharks tagged near the Farallones may belong to a genetically distinct northeastern Pacific population, according to findings published by PRBO partners from Stanford.

To help California Department of Fish and Game develop its Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, Grant Ballard took a lead role in providing expert comments from PRBO. He says, "We emphasized long-term ecological monitoring and ecosystem services, as well as developing capacities to ensure that data are readily available across scientific disciplines, for a broad ecosystem approach."

The fall 2009 session of our Bird Education and Awareness in Communities program, in the Canal Community of San Rafael, culminated on November 11th when students led a tour at their local park. PRBO educator Missy Wipf says, "We hope this program has changed the students' perspective on birds, habitats, and science!"

PRBO staff helped collect oiled birds and documented those taken to the Wildlife Processing Center in Cordelia, California, after the oil tanker Dubai Star leaked oil into San Franciso Bay on October 30, 2009.
Samar Hassan, a Palomarin winter intern from Egypt, assists in a PRBO survey of Bolinas Lagoon. Photo by Noah Stryker.

PRBO is partnering with the U.S. Forest Service's Middle East Program to host our fourth intern from the Middle East. Samar Abdel-Azeem Mohammed Hassan, from Egypt, is a banding intern at the Palomarin Field Station this winter. After returning to her post as a ranger for the Nature Conservation Sector at the First Cataract Islands Protected Area, in Aswan, Samar plans to share monitoring methods and the visitor education model she is learning here.

PRBO's California climate change research is featured in a paper published in the prestigious Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences. Lead-authored by John Wiens, the paper examines key assumptions and uncertainties associated with modeling future species distributions, providing recommendations for managers aiming to work with such projections. It also summarizes PRBO's models for 60 landbird species, most of which are projected to decrease in distribution by 2070.

For easy access to recent published findings from PRBO's research programs, there are summaries of recent scientific papers of note on our website. Visit to learn more.

Two of the graduate students working with PRBO have advanced to candidacy in PhD programs at University of California, Davis. Libby Porzig studies long-term changes in the bird community at Palomarin Field Station. Annie Schmidt is comparing responses of Farallon Island Brandt's Cormorants and Cassin's Auklets to changes in the ocean and climate.

A far-travelled northern fur seal hauled out on Southeast Farallon Island in October 2009. The number on its flipper tag revealed that it was born in 2006 on Bering Island, Russia. All 70 of the other tagged fur seals that PRBO has recorded in the past four years have been from San Miguel Island, California.