TWS recognizes wildlifers for outstanding publications

By Julia John

Nominations for the Wildlife Publication Awards will be accepted through May 1, 2018. Click on the link above to visit the Wildlife Publication Awards webpage, or visit http://www.wildlife.org/awards to learn more about all TWS awards.

Twelve wildlife professionals earned TWS’s Wildlife Publication Awards for their excellence in wildlife biology and management literature at the 2017 annual conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The awards honored the authors of a book, edited book, monograph and journal article for their original research and superior scholarship on wildlife, including snow leopards (Panthera uncia), golden-winged warblers (Vermivora chrysoptera), northern spotted owls (Strix occidentalis caurina) and woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou).

Tom McCarthy, executive director of Panthera’s Snow Leopard Program, and David Mallon, an associate lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom, received the book publication award for Snow Leopards. Published in 2016, it’s the first in a new series from Elsevier called Biodiversity of the World: From Genes to Landscapes, and it contains chapters by nearly 200 authors.

“Almost every snow leopard expert in the field globally agreed to be part of it,” McCarthy said. “It’s the first major book on snow leopards. It brought all the current knowledge on snow leopards to one place. Fifteen years ago, you couldn’t have written the book because there wasn’t much known about the cat.”

But over the last two decades, he said, snow leopard research and conservation has flourished across the animal’s range in Central and South Asia.

“For a book with this international flavor to win an award was surprising and a great honor,” McCarthy said. “The award reflects that there’s many people doing work on such an iconic cat and that it was a heck of a labor to pour their knowledge, time and effort into this book. Everybody involved was thrilled the book was recognized by TWS.”

A volume entitled Golden-winged Warbler Ecology, Conservation, and Habitat Management won the publication award for edited book this year. A 2016 installment of the American Ornithological Society’s Studies in Avian Biology series, the publication resulted from a three-year collaboration among 14 author groups. Henry Streby — a University of Toledo assistant professor — David Andersen — a United States Geological Survey scientist — and David Buehler — a University of Tennessee, Knoxville professor — accepted the award as the book’s editors.

“A lot of research on golden-winged warblers was scattered and unpublished,” Streby said. “Our goal was to push this information through the peer-review process and get a one-stop-shop for the latest of golden-winged warbled conservation and management.”

The TWS award speaks to the quality of the final product, he said.

“Peers responded positively to it being a well-edited volume of a variety of good science,” Streby said. “It’s nice to see that hard work was worth it. In our field, it’s so much reviewing, criticism and rejection, so it’s nice when you publish something and someone says that was good.”

J. David Wiens, a supervisory research biologist with the U.S. Geological Society, and Eric Forsman, a retired courtesy appointment at Oregon State University, took home the publication award in the monograph category. Their 2014 monograph, “Competitive interactions and resource partitioning between northern spotted owls and barred owls in western Oregon,” is Wiens’ published doctoral dissertation on the federally threatened northern spotted owl and the invasive barred owl (Strix varia).

“The results show that barred owls were outcompeting spotted owls for critical resources associated with the older forest spotted owls are strongly tied to, and that barred owls were a primary cause of rapid spotted owl population declines,” he said.

The research informed the experimental removal of the invasive owl to determine whether reducing its populations could help the spotted owl recover, Wiens said.

“Further reduction in older forest is going to exacerbate competition between these species,” Wiens added. “That made a strong argument for the conservation of those areas co-occupied by the species.”

Receiving the TWS award for this work was “a big deal,” he said. “There was little information about barred owls before, so we had a lot of new findings relevant to wildlife management.”

The article publication award went to Rob Serrouya, Caribou Monitoring Unit director with the University of Alberta; Meike Wittmann, a faculty member of the University of Vienna in Austria; Bruce McLellan, wildlife research ecologist with the British Columbia Ministry of Forests; Heiko Wittmer, an associate professor at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand; and Stan Boutin, a University of Alberta professor. They published “Using predator-prey theory to predict outcomes of broadscale experiments to reduce apparent competition” in The American Naturalist in 2015.

“The article talks about apparent competition, where it appears that two species compete for a resource to the detriment of one, but their interactions are explained by a predator that eats both,” Serrouya said.

“When you have a prey that is more fecund and doesn’t get eaten as often when it runs into a predator,” he said, “if that prey invades a new area because they’re transported there or something changes in the environment, that more prolific prey can drive native prey to extinction because the more prolific prey supports more predators.”

Serrouya says the award paid tribute to a decade-long adaptive management experiment with vast conservation implications.

“It was fun to get acknowledged for something that tested theory with field data on thousands of square kilometers,” he said.

The study “demonstrated a glimmer of hope to recover a critically endangered species, the woodland caribou,” Serrouya said. “They’re hard to conserve because they occupy millions of square kilometers, are naturally rare and their habitat needs conflict with oil, gas and forestry. Reducing invading prey to save the caribou is a viable alternative to wolf control, but it has to be coupled with protecting habitat.”

Tom McCarthy accepts the 2017 Wildlife Publication Award in the book category from former President Bruce Thompson at the Annual Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. @TWS

David Andersen receives the 2017 Wildlife Publication Award in the edited book category. ©TWS

J. David Wiens takes home the 2017 Wildlife Publication Award in the monograph category. ©TWS

Rob Serrouya is honored by the 2017 Wildlife Publication Award in the article category. ©TWS

 

Julia John is a science writer at The Wildlife Society. Contact her at jjohn@wildlife.org with any questions or comments about her article.

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