Join us for our December Lunchtime Expedition, It Is Not Only Fine Feathers That Make Fine Birds, presented by Eric C. Atkinson.
The in-person talk takes place in the Center’s Coe Auditorium, with a virtual option available.
If you prefer to join us online, you may register in advance via Zoom webinar: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_1PDSIV9NQqqDlic8ubs_Vw
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Since 2013, Eric C. Atkinson has been involving Northwest College undergraduate students in studying a multipathogen assemblage infecting the avian community of the northeastern Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
Atkinson’s students gain important research skills all within their first two years of college. They do everything from:
• capturing, measuring, bleeding, and banding birds (released unharmed)…
• to laboratory techniques including enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays for West Nile virus and antibodies, DNA extraction of malaria, PCR amplification, and bioinformatics of Next Generation Sequences…
• to characterizing the fecal microbiome.
Furthermore, the multipathogen landscape shown by nearly 1000 encounters across 57 avian species shows a diverse pathogen assemblage, disease state, and community network. Contrary to published accounts, some birds recover from WNV, and Atkinson continues with analyses assessing the interactions of pathogens on the health of our native and nonnative songbirds.
Eric C. Atkinson grew up in the Gallatin Valley of southwest Montana and by age 7 was affixing colored twisty ties to the legs of Brewer’s Blackbirds in hope of resighting them the following year. Until high school he was unaware that ornithologists actually did that and from then on has been researching birds (from Northern Shrikes, Ferruginous Hawks, Harlequin Ducks, House Sparrows and any other feathered species he encounters), mammals (from mice to prairie dogs to mule deer), and reptiles and amphibians from Montana and Idaho to Arizona and Virginia with dozens of points in between.
Atkinson uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to model hazards for wind power deployment and has developed conservation strategies for several vulnerable species across the continent. He is Associate Professor of Biology at Northwest College (NWC), commuting from a farm near Belfry, Montana, where he and his wife, Melonie, raise Galloway cattle in what they term an ‘ethecological’ manner.
As a conservation biologist with long-standing ties to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, Atkinson is passionate about sharing his ecological knowledge with students (including three adult daughters, all mentoring young people themselves). He is also serving as Project Lead of INBRE (IDeA Networks for Biomedical Research Excellence) at NWC. Continuing his studies, Atkinson is using his avian disease research toward a PhD at University of Wyoming. One can often find him hiking the sagebrush draws of south-central Montana with his wife and at least one or two dogs.
• The series continues on the first Thursday of each month.