Over the last half-century, North America has lost a quarter of its bird population—3 billion birds, a trend that has implications not only for birds but for the entire biosphere, including humans. But determining the underlying causes of the decline in bird populations requires continent-wide collaboration. Since 2017, IU’s Environmental Resilience Institute has been operating a bird banding station as part of an international collaborative program called Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship, or MAPS, run by the Institute for Bird Populations. The MAPS program dates back three decades with over 1,200 stations spread across nearly every state, including more than 30 stations in Indiana. Volunteers who run the institute’s banding station are preparing to return to the site, which they monitor every 10 days from May to August. Volunteers check the captured birds and record information on multiple variables before releasing the birds back into the wild. With 2021 marking the start of the fifth season, volunteers have captured and recorded 1,053 birds to date, including 804 unique individuals representing 50 species. Many recent studies have applied MAPS data to better understand climate change’s impact on birds. As more data is recorded, future studies could contribute to solutions on how to conserve birds and their habitats.
In other news, IU’s Environmental Resilience Institute recognized 13 Hoosier Resilience Heroes for contributions to their communities and the environment. The honorees include professionals, students, and volunteers dedicated to growing sustainable food, promoting environmental justice, preparing Indiana for the impacts of climate change, and more. Heroes highlighted include high-school senior Angel-Hannah Akinleye, who leads an initiative to promote Indiana high school journalism that focuses on climate change and other environmental challenges, and Phyllis Boyd, the executive director of Groundwork Indy, who has created programming to help youth and adults connect with the natural world and advocated for inclusive green spaces. Other heroes include IUPUI student Miranda Frausto, who lobbied her hometown of Carmel to address climate change and helped it get started, and Jamie Scott, a farmer in northeast Indiana who has practiced sustainable farming methods for decades and talks about their benefits with other farmers. The institute’s director Janet McCabe says she is inspired by the honorees who are leading the charge against ongoing threats to the state of Indiana and the world, such as climate change and long-term social and environmental inequities.