Statewide bird conference returns to Juneau

Respected nature writer, scientist Quammen set to deliver free lecture

Posted: Monday, February 06, 2006

For the first time in almost two decades, the Alaska Bird Conference is returning to Juneau this week, with celebrated scientist and nature writer David Quammen delivering the keynote address.

"The main purpose of the conference is for bird researchers and people in bird management to come together and exchange ideas," said Debbie Groves, a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a member of the event's local organizing committee. One of the highlights will be Quammen as the featured speaker, discussing biogeography and its implications for understanding and conserving biological diversity.

The conference is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Tuesday at Centennial Hall. Groves said it hasn't been held in Juneau since 1987. This will be the 11th Alaska Bird Conference, an event currently held every two years.

About 100 people had registered for the conference Friday, Groves said. People will be able to register at Centennial Hall each day of the conference.

"There are a lot of hot issues," said Michelle Kissling, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist chairing the conference.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has taken on national significance. Other important topics include bird strikes in equipment used for wind-generated power, and avian flu, she said.

bird conference

when: begins 1 p.m. tuesday.

where: centennial hall.

registration: 9 a.m. tuesday.

cost: $20 for each of the three days and $55 for the entire conference.

free lecture by david quammen: 7:30 to 9 p.m. friday at the university of alaska southeast's egan library.

Quammen is scheduled to speak at Thursday's banquet, to begin at 6:30 p.m. The banquet is open to people participating in at least one day of the conference, for an additional $35. Quammen also is scheduled to deliver a free public lecture from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Friday at the University of Alaska Southeast's Egan Library.

His 1996 book, "Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions," traces the history of evolutionary theory, biodiversity, population dynamics and extinction. His most recent book, 2004's "The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind," is a historical account of predators and society.

Kissling said Quammen has received a lot of notoriety from a National Geographic cover story he wrote last year - "Was Darwin Wrong?"

"He's at the top of his career," she added.

The conference also will offer a free public lecture from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Centennial Hall, by Bob Armstrong, wildlife photographer and author, on 45 years of photographing Alaska's birds.

In addition to professionals getting together, participants will come from academia, Kissling said. "It's really important in today's times to share information across disciplines."

The conference will be sponsored by the Juneau Audubon Society, Audubon Alaska, Sealaska Corp., Pacific Coast Joint Venture, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Skaggs Foundation, Conoco-Phillips Alaska, University of Alaska Southeast and University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at

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