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Mobilizing AOS Expertise to Advance Conservation

The American Ornithological Society, including the former AOU and COS,  has a long history of providing scientific expertise to address avian conservation problems. These efforts include expert committees that developed science-based solutions and reports for agencies facing difficult conservation problems (e.g., Ricklefs 1978, Beissinger et al. 2000, Walters et al. 2000, 2010), identified avian conservation problems before they were widely recognized (e.g., Askins et al. 2007), and produced policy resolutions that advocated conservation actions based on sound science (Beissinger et al. 1991); view Conservation Committee Reports for access to publications. Moreover, many members of AOS work on conservation-related research and are concerned about conservation issues. As a result, conservation science presentations have grown dramatically at our annual meetings and in our publications over the past 25 years.

AOS continues to be dedicated to ensuring that rigorous conservation science is conducted and disseminated, so that policy and management decisions have a firm empirical and conceptual foundation. To ensure the objectivity of our science, the society does not engage in traditional conservation advocacy or conservation activities unrelated to science.

Members of a Conservation Task Force have codified and further advanced a vision for the application of science to avian conservation (see Walters et al. 2014. A vision for an expanded role of ornithological societies in conservation, The Condor 116:278-289). This article outlines the kinds of conservation-related activities that the societies will undertake, such as serving in the role of a Science Arbiter in preparing perspectives on conservation topics to be published jointly by the two societies and undertaking the role of Honest Broker to outline and prioritize options for conservation activities. The proposed activities span the interests of our members at all career stages and the potential for all ornithological disciplines to contribute to conservation science. It provides a venue for conservation contributions following protocols for objectivity and peer review.

The AOU Council and COS Board voted to accept the ideas in Walters et al. (2014) in January 2014 as a way to move avian conservation science forward together into a new era of professional society contributions to conservation. The need to apply our scientific expertise to conservation could not be greater, and the commitment to evidence-based conservation science remains strong on the part of AOS members. We hope other ornithological societies will join us in these efforts.

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