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2014 Ned K. Johnson Young Investigator Award

The Ned K. Johnson Young Investigator Award, given by the AOU, recognizes work by an ornithologist early in his/her career who shows distinct promise for future leadership in the profession. The award consists of a framed certificate and an honorarium provided by the Ned K. Johnson Young Investigator Fund, which was established through a gift to the society's endowment honoring Ned K. Johnson, a lifelong supporter and former President (1996–1998) of the AOU.

aou-johnson-award-jahn-2014.jpgThe AOU is pleased to present Dr. Alex Jahn with the 2014 Ned K. Johnson Young Investigator Award.

Alex’s passion is austral migration—a stunningly neglected topic. More than 98% of papers published on bird migration focus on migrants that breed in North America and Eurasia, despite the incredible diversity of migrants in South America. Alex charged into this void.

Alex chose to study migration in the Chaco region of Bolivia for his Master’s work at the University of Arkansas. His Ph.D. at the University of Florida focused on partial migration of Tropical Kingbirds that breed in Bolivia. During this time, he discovered that well-supported hypotheses to explain partial migration in North America do not apply in South America. Thus, his results firmly rejected hypotheses that are taken for granted by practically all ornithologists. In short, Alex argues that seasonality of temperature drives migration in the Northern Hemisphere, whereas seasonality of rainfall drives migration in the Southern Hemisphere.

Alex’s unusually broad perspective on migration is widely sought out. He has written two reviews on austral migration: one in Ecological Monographs, one in Ecological Applications. In 2013, Alex was the first author on two groundbreaking papers in The Auk that used geolocators to provide the first documentation of a migratory passerine’s annual movements in South America. He is a also a co-author of the forthcoming Birds of Bolivia Field Guide. The National Geographic Society has recognized the unusual scope of his work with two Research Grants.

In summary, Alex has truly been a leader in the study of bird migration in Latin America and certainly has a bright future ahead of him. The AOU is so pleased and proud to name him as our Young Investigator of 2014.

Photo courtesy of Vanesa Bejarano.

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