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Stegner Center Green Bag – Cagan H. Sekercioglu

January 26, 2017 @ 12:15 pm - 1:15 pm

Why Birds Matter: Conserving the World’s Birds and Their Ecosystem Services

12:15 p.m. – 1:15 p.m., S.J. Quinney College of Law Moot Courtroom (Level 6)
Birds are the best known major group of organism. They provide critical ecological functions and ecosystem services, ranging from creating soil to shaping primate behavior. Global analyses of the world first avian ecology database, with 1.5 million data points covering all bird species, provide answers to important questions in avian macroecology, conservation biology and biogeography. Global change, in particular climate change, habitat loss and introduced species are increasingly threatening new avian taxa that have been considered common and safe from extinction until recently. We identified many extinction-prone and understudied avian taxa that should be targeted by intensive research and conservation efforts. There is an urgent need to understand the ecological consequences of bird declines, which will lead to consequent declines in ecosystem services. With nearly 11,000 species, birds are one of the most diverse groups of ecosystem service providers. Birds are conspicuous in many habitats, occur worldwide, and are ecologically diverse. Birds’ ecological roles and ecosystem services are critical to the health of many ecosystems and to human well-being. Birds consume pests, pollinate flowers, disperse seeds, scavenge carrion, cycle nutrients, and modify the environment in ways that benefit other species. Yet, the ecological importance of birds and the economic value of their services are not widely appreciated. Studying birds’ ecological functions and ecosystem services enables us to understand the environmental consequences, of bird declines and extinctions, for ecosystems and for the people that benefit from birds’ services. We need to do more to communicate these findings to the public and policy makers, thereby increasing public support for the conservation of birds, their habitats, and birds’ ecosystem services.

caganCagan H. Sekercioglu, Assistant Professor, Biology, University of Utah
Çağan Hakkı Şekercioğlu is a biology professor at University of Utah where he directs the Biodiversity and Conservation Ecology Lab. He studies the conservation ecology of keystone vertebrates and their ecological functions in the Anthropocene, the current epoch dominated by human-driven global change. His research has three interlinked foci: studying long-term ecological change in animal populations living in ecosystems threatened by habitat loss, climate change and other impacts; understanding how avian ecological attributes affect the likelihood and consequences of bird extinctions; and integrating community-based conservation, education, and capacity-building. Born in İstanbul, Şekercioğlu is a conservation ecologist, ornithologist, and Turkey’s first tropical biologist. He graduated from İstanbul’s Robert College in 1993, when he won a silver medal at the International Biology Olympics. In 1997, he received degrees in Biology and Anthropology from Harvard University. In 2001, he was chosen one of the 100 leading academics of Turkey by Aktuel magazine. In 2003, he received his Ph.D. in ecology and evolution from Stanford University Department of Biology. He was chosen the 2003 Outstanding Young Person of the Year in environmental and ethical leadership by Junior Chamber International of Turkey. In 2007, he founded the northeastern Turkey environmental non-profit organization KuzeyDoğa which he has directed pro-bono since then. In 2008, he received from Princess Anne of United Kingdom UK’s top grassroots conservation prize, the Whitley Gold Award. The following year, Şekercioğlu succeeded in getting Lake Kuyucuk declared eastern Turkey’s first Ramsar wetland and the 2009 European Destination of Excellence for Sustainable Tourism, helped create Turkey’s first bird-nesting island in the lake, and persuaded the government of Turkey to create Turkey’s first wildlife corridor. Şekercioğlu served as a senior scientist at Stanford University from 2006 to 2010 when he joined the University of Utah faculty. That year, he was chosen one of the 100 Hopes for Turkey’s Future by Newsweek Turkey and Turkey’s Scientist of the Year by MSNBC Turkey. In 2011, he was chosen a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and received Turkey government’s wetland conservation award. In 2013, he was selected a National Geographic Risk Taker, received the Whitley Fund 20. Anniversary Gold Award for “putting Turkey on the conservation map” and was presented Turkish government’s inaugural wetland science award. In 2014, he received the University of Utah inaugural citizen science award. He was chosen an Ashoka Environment Fellow and Sabanci Foundation Changemaker in 2015. He is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Turkey’s Koç University, an ornithology associate of the Harvard University Museum of Comparative Zoology, a faculty associate of the Utah State University, Fellow International of the Explorers Club, and an Elective Member of the American Ornithologists Union. His ecological research and conservation work has been widely covered by the media, including in ABC, BBC, CNN, Fox, National Geographic, Nature, Newsweek, New York Times, Science and The New Yorker. An award-winning photographer represented by the National Geographic Creative Agency, Şekercioğlu’s photos have been published by National Geographic, BBC, New York Times and hundreds of other publications. Şekercioğlu’s three books and more than 100 scientific publications have received over 5500 citations and he is one the most cited 0.2% of environmental scientists of the past decade in the Web of Science Essential Science Indicators. He is the first biologist and the youngest person to receive from Turkey’s President Erdoğan the TUBITAK Special Award, Turkey’s highest science award equivalent to the USA National Medal of Science.

1 hour of CLE. Lunch provided.
No registration required.  Free and open to the public.

For questions about this event contact Kris (801) 585-3440.

Paid parking is available at the Rice-Eccles Stadium. We encourage you to use public transportation to our events. Take TRAX University line to the Stadium stop and walk a half block north. For other public transit options use UTA’s Trip Planner or click the “public transit” option under “Get Directions” on Google maps. The law school is on the Red Route for the University’s free campus shuttles (Carlson Hall stop).



January 26, 2017
12:15 pm - 1:15 pm
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S. J. Quinney College of Law
383 South University St
Salt Lake City, UT 84112 United States


Wallace Stegner Center