Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (SCSCB) 19th Regional Conference
St. George’s University, Grenada, Lesser Antilles, West Indies
With over 160 delegates representing every island-state in the greater Caribbean region, the SCSCB’s 19th Regional Conference held in Grenada was record-shattering in attendance and diversity. This was, above all, the most valuable component, allowing ornithologists and conservations in the Caribbean to continue building a solid network of collaborative science and information exchange.
I was personally invited to give a speech at the conference by the Society’s Executive Director, and upon receiving the preliminary outline of presentations, workshops, and focus groups, I knew that attending this meeting was an opportunity not to be missed. I am currently a second-year graduate student affiliated with both the Departments of Natural Resources and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University where I am studying the limitations and determinants of the reproductive success of the Golden Swallow, a threatened endemic on the island of Hispaniola – and using that information to create a short and long term conservation plan for the species. My project’s integration of science, conservation, and outreach reflects the very foundation of the conference, and I felt at home amongst the delegates that attended.
The conference afforded me the opportunity to speak at length with researchers conducting work very similar to my own. We were able to share methodology, tactics that work and those that do not, and build bridges between projects that have been running parallel to each other for far too long. I participated in workshops aimed at educating researchers in ways to amplify their community involvement and donor base, while a series of more specific focus groups covered extremely relevant topics concerning invasive predatory island species, endemic avifauna and their roles as flagship species, and advanced research methods for studying small populations in remote terrain.
Beyond the academic gains of the conference, I was able to take full advantage of forming collaborations with an array of researchers that I had been communicating with electronically for nearly two years. Sitting face to face, we were able to make strong headway in developing strategic plans for the near future, some of those including the reintroduction of the Golden Swallow to Jamaica, expanding the project into the mountains of Haiti, and advancing work being conducted on the Bahama Swallow, a congener to my study species. Additionally, I was invited to help get work off the ground in Havana, Cuba, where biology students are beginning a study on the poorly known Cuban Martin, and furthermore encouraged to be a representative on behalf of the Dominican Republic for the future establishment of the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds’ (SCSCB) Caribbean Birding Trail (CTB).
I am currently busy following up with the many things put into motion by the conference, which overall was an experience that I am incredibly proud to have taken part in. There is no doubt that the knowledge, collaborations, and feedback gained from the conference have already and will continue to take my graduate research into new and exciting directions.
A very sincere thank you for helping to make this opportunity possible for me….