November Membership Meeting: “Chasing birds in the Amazon and the Alpine: Stories from a Field Biologist” with Ben Vernasco, Ph.D.

Thursday, November 17th at 7:00 pm
Olin Hall, Room 129 on the Whitman College campus.  To view the campus map, go to:

Wearing masks for group events on the Whitman College campus is now optional. 

Dr. Ben Veranasco will share stories from his research in two contrasting habitats, the Ecuadorian Amazon and the Wallowa Mountains of Northeastern Oregon. He will begin with an overview of the Neotropical manakins, a family of birds known for their acrobatic courtship displays, and then share his work focused on the causes and consequences of individual differences in the complex social behavior of male Wire-tailed Manakins. Shifting back to North America, he will give an overview of North America’s rosy-finches and share his work focused on the natural history and ecology of the Wallowa Rosy-finch, a subspecies of the Gray-crowned Rosy-finch that exclusively breeds in the Wallowa Mountains. Through this work, Ben will exemplify the value of combining intensive field biology with complex laboratory analyses for greatly advancing our understanding of the complex social lives of individual animals and poorly understood species threatened by global change.

Ben is originally from the North Bay Area and Sacramento. He received his undergraduate degree from the Wildlife Department at Cal Poly Humboldt in 2013, where he discovered his passion for birds through field trips with the Redwood Region Audubon Society and while volunteering at Humboldt Bay Bird Observatory. After a year of seasonal field jobs, Ben joined the Biology Department at Virginia Tech as a PhD student and the Interfaces of Global Change Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program as a Fellow. Since Virginia Tech, he has gone on to join the School of Biological Sciences at Washington State University Pullman as a Postdoctoral Researcher in the lab of Dr. Heather Watts.

Wire-tailed Manakin

Wire-tailed Manakin
courtesy of Ben Vernasco

Wallowa Rosy Finch
courtesy of Ben Vernasco

Ben Vernasco

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