Background. On 27 August 2010, at the 25th International Ornithological Congress in Campos do Jordão, Brazil, we hosted a Round Table Discussion (RTD) entitled “Beyond the Parrot Action Plan: Challenges and priorities for the research and conservation of Psittaciformes.” (Organizers: Juan F. Masello, James D. Gilardi, Igor Berkunsky, Timothy F. Wright and Robert Heinsohn). The more than 80 participants at this meeting agreed by vote to form a “Parrot Researchers Group” (PRG) under the auspices of the newly formed International Ornithologists’ Union (IOU). The initial aims of this ad hoc group were to: (1) promote parrot research, (2) establish research needs and priorities for the decade 2010-20, with particular attention to regional conservation strategies, (3) identify impediments to effective research and conservation of parrots, (4) find solutions to the impediments identified in point (3), and (5) create a Research Coordination Committee (RCC) on Psittaciformes under the auspices of the International Ornithologists' Union (IOU). During that meeting a wide variety of topics were discussed including the need for more studies on data-deficient species, better dissemination of information (both published and unpublished), and the need for more research funding. Another major topic of conversation was the current Parrot Action Plan of the IUCN. The participants agreed that the plan is too old and needs to be updated and that it should be worked on by regional task forces.
During the discussion we also agreed to elect one head of the organization (the Secretary) and two to three regional coordinators for the five principal regions where parrot research is carried out (Africa, Australasia, the Caribbean region, continental Neotropics, and urban environments). All members of the Parrot Researchers Group had the opportunity to nominate candidates for the election and to vote. As a consequence, our current structure is as follows: African region coordinators: Prof. Dr. Mike Perrin (Perrin@ukzn.ac.za), Dr. Rowan Martin (firstname.lastname@example.org), Dr. Steve Boyes ( email@example.com); Australasian region coordinators: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Rob Heinsohn (Robert.Heinsohn@anu.edu.au), Assoc. Prof. Dr. Jörn Theuerkauf (firstname.lastname@example.org); Caribbean region coordinators: Dr. Thomas White (Thomas_White@fws.gov), Dr. Sam Williams (email@example.com); Continental Neotropics region coordinators: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Donald Brightsmith (DBrightsmith@cvm.tamu.edu), Dr. Igor Berkunsky (firstname.lastname@example.org); Urban Parrot Section coordinators: MSc. Roelant Jonker (email@example.com), MSc. Michael Braun (firstname.lastname@example.org), liasing with the “Grupo de Interés Temático de Psitácidos” (Sociedad Mesoamericana para la Biología y la Conservación, SMBC) through Martín Lezama-López (email@example.com); Secretary: Dr. Juan F. Masello. In 2013, IOU President Prof. Dr. Bairlein appointed the PRG group as the RCC on Parrots (RCCP) of the IOU. The central goal of the RCCP is: to build on the achievements of the PRG and to expand the reach and effectiveness of its programs under the umbrella of the IOU. IOU fellow Prof. Dr. Dominique G Homberger (firstname.lastname@example.org) agreed to act as Chair of our group, according to the Article XV of the Statutes and By-Laws of the IOU. Dr. Juan F. Masello was also appointed as Chair of the RCCP. At present, membership of the PRG/RCCP stands at 323 persons, representing all continents (08/10/2014).
E-group Network. Since 2010, discussions, exchange of advice, and the coordination of joint projects have been carried out through a Google e-group. The home page of the e-group is available at: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/parrot-specialist-group. Up to present, more than 430 topics have been discussed, including impacts of exotic parrot populations on native fauna, management of bees in nest boxes, state of research and knowledge on Grey Parrots (Psittacus erithacus), fitting of tracking devices, pesticide use to control ectoparasites in nests, approaches to population monitoring. The discussion can be freely accessed through the homepage but only registered PRG members may post comments and questions.
Regional Projects. In accordance with our regional approach, each of the PRG/RCCP regions and the Secretarial Office are focusing their efforts on specific regional and global projects:
a) African region. (1) The completion of a regional review of the IUCN Parrot Action Plan (PAP), including reviews for each of the larger parrots from mainland Africa and Madagascar and suggested research and conservation priorities. The review is currently in press: RO Martin, MR Perrin, RS Boyes, YD Abebe, ND Annorbah, A Asamoah, D Bizimana, KS Bobo, N Bunbury, J Brouwer, MS Diop, M Ewnetu, RC Fotso, J Garteh, P Hall, LH Holbech, IR Madindou, F Maisels, J Mokoko, R Mulwa, A Reuleaux, C Symes, S Tamungang, S Taylor, S Valle, M Waltert, & M Wondafrash. Research and conservation of the larger parrots of Africa and Madagascar: a review of knowledge gaps and opportunities. Ostrich - Journal of African Ornithology. (2) The promotion of publication of data on African parrots through the development of a special issue of Ostrich - Journal of African Ornithology dedicated to African parrots. The work on this special issue is close to completion. (3) A regional review of the PAP, including reviews for each Agapornis species from mainland Africa and Madagascar and suggested research and conservation priorities (M.R. Perrin, in prep.).
b) Australasian region. During the last two years, this regional group has been working on a review paper analysing the factors endangering parrots and cockatoos in the region, focusing on evaluating the consequences of climate change on habitat loss and impacts of invasive species. The first results of this work were presented at Symposium 5 of the 26th International Ornithological Congress, Tokyo, convened by Dr. Jörn Theuerkauf and Dr. Leo Joseph, under the title: “Recent advances in the study of Psittaciformes: breeding biology, population ecology and phylogeography.”
c) Caribbean region. During the last four years, the Caribbean regional group has been focusing on several projects carried out mainly in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Bonaire. Among them are: (1) rehabilitation, nest monitoring and reforestation on Bonaire (Yellow-shouldered Amazon); (2) endangered wild population management (Puerto Rican Amazon); (3) rehabilitation and release of Hispaniolan Parrots and Hispaniolan Conures rescued from the illegal pet trade; (4) year-round tracking of released birds; (5) initiating a third reintroduction of the Puerto Rican Amazon; (6) monitoring and placement of artificial nests; (7) Rio Abajo Forest: successful nesting of the Puerto Rican amazon without human assistance in nearly 40 years.
d) Continental Neotropics region. This regional group has been working on a regional review of the PAP, through questionnaires sent to all relevant parties and the production of a review paper to be published in an appropriate regional ornithological journal. The data obtained and analysed cover 63% of Neotropical parrot species distributed in 188 different populations from 21 countries. The review is multi-authored: Berkunsky I, MC Abbud, JMRE Aguilar, U Alemán, RM Aramburú, A Arce Arias, R Balas McNab, TJS Balsby, AEA Barbosa, JM Barredo Barberena, SR Beissinger, MR Benites de Franco, KS Berg, CA Bianchi, E Blanco, A Bodrati, C Bonilla Ruz, E Botero Delgadillo, D Brightsmith, SB Canavelli, R Caparroz, R Cepeda, O Chassot, C Cinta, K Cockle, G Daniele, CB de Araújo, H Del Castillo, S Díaz, JA Díaz Luque, LR Douglas, A Figueroa Rodríguez, R García Anleu, JD Gilardi, P Grilli, JC Guix, M Hernández, A Hernández-Muñoz, F Hiraldo, E Horstman, R Ibarra Portillo, JP Isacch, JE Jiménez, L Joyner, M Juárez, FP Kacoliris, L Klemann-Júnior, S Latta, ATK Lee, MN Leiliany, A Lesterhuis, M Lezama López, C Lugarini, G Marateo, C Marinelli, J Martinez, MS McReynolds, CR Mejía Urbina, G Monge, TC Monterrubio Rico, AP Nunes, FP Nunes, C Olaciregui, EC Pacífico, N Politi, G Ponce Santizo, HO Portillo Reyes, NP Prestes, FT Presti, K Renton, G Reyes Macedo, E Ringler, L Rivera, A Rojas, RE Rojas Llanos, YG Rubio Rocha, ABS Saidenberg, A Salinas Melgoza, V Sanz, MH Schaefer, P Scherer-Neto, GHF Seixas, LF Silveira, EAB Sipinski, M Somenzari, D Susanibar, VK Tavares, JL Tella, C Torres-Sovero, R Vargas Rodriguez, LD Vázquez Reyes, TH White Jr., S Williams, R Zarza, and JF Masello (in prep.), Current threats faced by Neotropical parrots.
e) Urban Parrot Section. This section of our group has been working on several projects focusing on (1) increasing our understanding of the establishment, diversity and population dynamics of introduced and native parrot populations through a yearly Global Parrot Count ( http://cityparrots.org/world-parrot-count/2012/1/6/world-parrot-count- 2013.html ); (2) gaining insights in the genetic make-up and adaptations of these populations in response to live in the new, often urban, landscapes; (3) applying ecological niche modelling to gain insight in the alien invasive potential of these populations and manage real or perceived agricultural conflicts working closely with other regions; (4) establishing itself as an authority on neozoon parrot population knowledge, consulting and monitoring.
f) Secretarial Office. This section of our group currently coordinates two worldwide projects. The first is a study of the presence of hemoparasites of the genera Haemoproteus, Plasmodium, Leucocytozoon, Hepatozoon, Lankesterella and Babesia, across wild Psittaciformes from all over the world. Currently, we are working on laboratory analyses of 321 samples from 18 parrot species distributed across 23 localities, 7 countries, and 3 zoogeographical regions of the world. Collaborators include JF Masello, FJ Martínez González, A Barnaud, I Berkunsky, D Brunton, L Calderón, ME Hauber, JA Díaz Luque, A Mijares, L Ortiz-Catedral, B Jackson, P Quillfeldt, R Rosales, V Sanz, G Seixas, P Serafini, A Silva-Iturriza, E Sipinski, J Theuerkauf, R Vásquez, P Widmann, I Widmann, and S Merino. The second involves the creation and maintenance of a virtual library hosted in a password-protected Google Drive folder. The library, available to all PRG/RCCP members has been managed by Dr. Soledad Díaz (email@example.com) and Dr. Carlos de Araújo (firstname.lastname@example.org), respectively our current and former librarians. The library contains 2600 parrot papers and e-books and is steadily growing. RIS and EndNote reference lists are updated monthly, as a service to the PRG/RCCP members using the virtual library. In addition, the secretarial office has also been distributing job advertisements through our e-group and homepage on a weekly basis; detailed information from members willing to share it has been gathered with the use of a Google form created by Dr Carlos de Araújo. The Google Form can be completed at https://docs.google.com/a/wcs.org/forms/d/1hHzcq8SdNwLHz78mLtvANh4n0RuMuDphiZA V4qbM9yk/edit#. The office together with all the regional coordinators also convened two events at the 26 IOC in Tokyo, Japan, in 2014: (1) a Round Table Discussion “Establishing, promoting, and coordinating research needs and priorities for a globally endangered avian order, the Psittaciformes, through global cooperation”; and (2) the RCC meeting “Meeting of the Research Coordination Committee on Parrots (RCCP)”.
Future plans and ongoing work. The completion and continuation of the ongoing projects mentioned above (Regional Projects) have current priority. Additionally in the near future, we aim to work on several points discussed during the RCCP meeting in Tokyo in August 2014: (1) organizing the transition from PRG to RCCP and, now, WGP; (2) organizing applications for funding needed for joint projects, such as the study of psittaciform hemoparasites (see above); (3) arranging the elections of regional coordinators and the Secretary for the period of 2014- 2018; (4) promoting WGP participation of colleagues from under-represented regions (e.g. Asia); (5) developing a web page on the IOU website which would provide an enhanced platform for the group’s e-library, a centre for advertisement and coordination of funding opportunities, a blog for the establishment of contacts with colleagues, students and volunteers worldwide, and an enhanced form for the exchange of member details (contact and expertise details).
Dr. Juan F. Masello, Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Department of Animal Ecology & Systematics
Personal information and publications: https://www.uni-giessen.de/cms/fbz/fb08/Inst/tsz/voekophysiologie/mitarbeiter/juma1
Burrowing Parrots http://www.uni-giessen.de/~gf1702/
Research Coordination Committee on Parrots, International Ornithologist's Union www.internationalornithology.org https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!forum/parrot-specialist-group