On Monday, September 14, the UNM Biodiversity Webinar Series—Fall 2020 launched with U.S. Senator Tom Udall serving as honorary co-host. At that inaugural webinar, Building a National Biodiversity Action Plan: Science, Policy, and the Grassroots—three committed and passionate conservationists joined me in conversation: Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), U.S Representative Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Enric Sala. You will find the video in WEBINAR VIDEOS in the Species in Peril project at UNM website.

The second webinar of the series is titled Flora, Fishes, and Fireflies: Assessing Species in Peril in New Mexico and Abroad. The webinar is scheduled for Thursday, October 8, 5:30-7:00 pm Mountain Time / 7:30-9:00 pm Eastern Time.
The webinar is FREE and open to the public, but registration is required. Please register at the PROGRAM page of the webinar series:

The organizers in New Mexico had not anticipated that the second webinar, which would help us understand “why” and “how” to assess the peril of nonhuman relatives with whom we share this Earth and its significance — would be taking place in the midst of a mass bird die-off in New Mexico and across the U.S. Southwest. The die-off has been reported in New Mexico newspapers, including Las Cruces Sun News and the Santa Fe New Mexican, and in national and international press and media, including The New York TimesThe Guardian, CNN, and the BBC

Ornithologists at UNM are currently studying the die-off. UNM PhD student Jenna McCullough writes in an article published in the American Birding Association website: “There is, I believe, a much more plausible reason for large numbers of birds to die during migration: lack of food. The 55–60ºF temperature swing observed in New Mexico combined with hurricane force winds and with wet snow very likely caused hypothermia in some birds, especially juveniles. Furthermore, cold temperatures also affect the food supply for insectivores, as insects (which become dormant or dead) are then covered by snow. Certainly, they are not flying through the air, as swallows and pewees need.” 

The second webinar Flora, Fishes, and Fireflies: Assessing Species in Peril in New Mexico and Abroad will address how to assess the peril of our nonhuman relatives, which in part would relate to the bird die-off in New Mexico and the greater Southwest.

Clayton Meredith of New Mexico BioPark Society will moderate the webinar that will feature three panelists:

Dr. Kira Mileham
Dr. Sara Lewis 
Dr. Topiltzin Contreras-MacBeath

All of the three panelists work on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) initiatives to assess imperiled species. The IUCN created and maintains the global 
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

The webinar will open with a welcome message from  Sen. Tom Udall.


I hope to see you at the webinar on Thursday, October 8.

Best wishes in this time of peril,

Subhankar Banerjee

Director and Founder, Species in Peril project at UNM

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