The Objectives and Purposes of the International Ornithologists’ Union (IOU)
Ornithology is a global discipline addressing all levels of biology from ecosystems to molecules, linking basic and applied research, and nurturing education and outreach. The IOU seeks to support, promote, and advance avian biology by (1) disseminating ornithological knowledge; (2) interacting with other scientific organizations, foundations and institutions; (3) stimulating and strengthening locally-based research that includes the participation of amateur ornithologists; (4) cultivating collegial, collaborative, mentoring and mutually supportive relationships among ornithologists internationally and without restrictions imposed by cultural or political differences; and (5) fostering knowledge transfer between basic research and applied sciences, such as conservation.
To effect these objectives and purposes, the IOU (1) sponsors and promotes congresses in different places of the world at regular intervals; (2) establishes and sponsors commissions and committees as it deems appropriate and desirable; (3) establishes and sponsors other international ornithological activities with specific tasks concordant with the mission and goals of the IOU as it deems appropriate; (4) functions as the Section of Ornithology of the International Union of Biological Sciences (IUBS); and (5) posts the names and professional affiliations of all current members of its committees and councils on the IOU website to promote international collaboration and networking.
Vision for an Endowment in International Ornithological Research, Education and Outreach.
The IOC has nurtured international exchange of ornithological knowledge and has encouraged and facilitated the participation of researchers and students from developing countries wherever possible. However, because the IOC has had no financial base between congresses, the emerging IOU must develop an endowment to fund inter-congress as well as congress activities. Priorities for such an endowment are as follows:
To generate funds for
Participation of researchers, educators and students from developing countries in the IOC.
Exchange visits for researchers, educators and students from developing countries to visit premier institutions and ornithologists in developed countries.
Support of new ideas and protocols for research, conservation and education in developing countries where often the need is greatest but opportunities for support are least.
Vision for an international journal of avian biology – “Integrative Avian Biology”: Integration and Synthesis of Biological Fields Across International Boundaries.
Ornithology is a global discipline addressing all levels of biology from ecosystems to molecules, linking basic and applied research, and nurturing education and outreach. The International Ornithologists’ Union (IOU) seeks to support, promote, and advance avian biology by disseminating ornithological knowledge and fostering information transfer between basic research and applied sciences, such as conservation. For these purposes, the IOU sponsors and promotes International Ornithological Congresses in different places of the world at regular intervals (once every four years). In the past, the IOC Proceedings have been published at the discretion of the Secretary General of the congress. The results have proved to be highly variable from congress to congress with some entire proceedings published within two years and others taking longer than four years. In one instance, only the plenary lectures were published, and in another, all papers were published only on a CD. There is a growing need to stabilize this publication in order to increase its appeal to symposium participants and its impact on international biological sciences in general.
The International Ornithological Congress (IOCongress) is the oldest ongoing series of scientific meetings (since 1881). The IOC Proceedings have produced many seminal and classic papers that are relevant to biology in general, and they have set the stage for subsequent major conceptual developments. A new journal “Integrative Avian Biology” is proposed, which will not only publish high-quality plenary lectures and symposia from the congresses, but also invite manuscripts from authors of selected oral and poster contributions. In addition, the journal could publish reviews of “hot topics” in avian biology and invited papers on issues arising from congress and inter-congress activities of the IOU Research Coordination Committees. An on-line discussion board (coordinated with the official IOU web site) could be used to discuss publications in this journal and others. Such a discussion board (under the auspices of a webmaster cum “editor”) could be a particularly effective way to involve ornithologists from emerging countries, have them voice their opinions, engage ornithologists in developed countries, and thereby foster interactions and collaborations on a truly global scale.
The scope of “Integrative Avian Biology” would cover the full spectrum of avian biology from macro-ecology and ecosystems to organismal, cellular and molecular biology. Especially sought after would be integrative and synthetic contributions that interface with conservation biology, basic biology, global change, public outreach, and education. By focusing on one taxon (i.e., birds), the journal is likely to pioneer a fresh synthesis of multiple sub-disciplines of biological sciences, which will forge new fields and advances that will be applicable to other taxa. In this way, the proposed journal will continue the tradition started by the IOCongresses over four decades ago in nurturing symposia and contributed papers from all disciplines of avian biology. The proposed journal is expected to attract a truly diverse audience and roster of contributors from at least 85 countries on all continents. The proposed journal will be unique and pioneering, as well as fill an important need for international cooperation. All papers will, of course, be peer reviewed.
A four-year publication plan between congresses will include:
- Publication of a total of ten peer-reviewed plenary lectures (i.e., full-length reviews of current topics that are both important and timely) from each congress.
- Publication of peer-reviewed contributions to symposia (usually five contributions per symposium for an estimated 48 symposia over three years). The symposia convenors will be recruited as guest-editors and liaised with a member of the Editorial Board (see below).
- To fill the issues for the remaining inter-congress period, peer-reviewed perspectives, commentaries and reviews will be invited on global ornithology, emerging fields, urgent conservation and management issues. If appropriate, unsolicited papers on topics relevant to the journal could also be published after initial screening by the Editor-in-Chief and Editorial Board, and full peer review.
At each IOCongress, an Editor-in-Chief will be appointed by the President after election by the IOCommittee) along with an Editorial Board, which will represent not only expertise from major biological disciplines, but also diversity of nationality, gender, and professional experience. The Editor-in-Chief may be re-appointed for up to a maximum of two consecutive IOCongresses (i.e., two terms of four years each). The Editor-in-Chief will be chosen alternately from the Western Hemisphere (North, Central or South America; i.e., the New World) or from Eurasia/Africa/Oceania (i.e. the Old World). The Editor-in-Chief should be experienced in, and comfortable with, integrative aspects of biology and be committed to the fusion of different fields. The Editor-in-chief should also be committed to maintaining a balanced treatment of sub-disciplines. This approach has been a hallmark of the IOCongresses and the IOC Proceedings for many decades.
The members of the Editorial Board may be appointed by the President in consultation with the Editor-in-Chief for up to a maximum of two consecutive IOCongresses. The Editorial Board will be selected from among the members of the International Ornithological Committee (IOCommittee) from 12 disciplines:
- Landscape ecology
- Morphology, development, and biomechanics
- Molecular biology/genomics
- Pathology, parasites, and immunology
- Conservation biology and management
For each discipline, two members of the IOCommittee (preferably one from the New World and one from the Old World, for a total of 24) will be appointed to the Editorial Board. Attention will be given to a balance by continent, nation, and gender.