IOU Council Members

IOU Council August 2018 - August 2022

President: Dominique G. Homberger (USA)
Dept. of Biological Sciences, Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA 70803

President, International Ornithologists’ Union (IOU) 2018-2022 and International Ornithological Congress 2022 (IOCongress® 2022)

Ornithology is a particularly rich discipline based on a single vertebrate class and has been contributing cutting edge research in ecology, ethology, physiology, development, genetics, morphology, natural history, evolution, and many other disciplines. As a functional, ecological, evolutionary and comparative morphologist and biomechanicist, with a background in veterinary anatomy, I feel fortunate that I have had the opportunity to study birds, with special attention to parrots and cockatoos, in the lab as well in the field. This diversity of disciplines within ornithology is also represented in the quadrennial International Ornithological Congresses, which present a great opportunity to learn not only about the latest advancements in one’s own discipline, but also to learn about those in other disciplines. I have attended all IOCongresses since the Berlin IOCongress in 1978 and have organized symposia for each IOCongress since the Moscow IOCongress in 1982. I was elected a member of the International Ornithological Committee (called IOU Fellow since 2010) in 1990 and was elected Permanent Secretary in 1998. In this capacity I served under five different IOU Presidents until 2018. This service was immensely rewarding to me: While assisting the presidents in their work, I was also responsible for communicating with and assisting ornithologists of potential host countries in the preparation of invitations for future IOCongresses. At the IOCongress in Vancouver in August 2018, I was elected President of the IOU. In my current responsibility, I am happy and proud to serve the new, youngest and in every respect the most diverse IOU Council. Together, we have been working on behalf of the IOU, the only global organization dedicated to research in ornithology.

Vice President: Lei Fumin (China)
Key Laboratory of Zoological Systematics and Evolution
Chinese Academy of Sciences
1 Beichen West Road
Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101

Vice-president, International Ornithologists’ Union (IOU) 2014-2018; 2018-2022, President, China Ornithological Society 2017-2021

I enjoy very much working on birds and enjoy cooperating with the IOU. My research interests are taxonomy, phylogeny, biodiversity and distribution, phylogeography, adaptive evolution by comparative genomics, and molecular epidemiology of avian influenza. All these studies are focused on birds. Since 2018, after the the 27th IOCongress2018 in Vancouver, I served as the Chair of the IOU Working Group on Asian Ornithology, which aims to promote scientific research and cooperation among Asian partners and to collaborate with members in other regions; to establish research needs and conservation strategies for the Asian region; to identify barriers in effective research and conservation of threatened birds in Asia, and explore possible solutions; to attract more Asian ornithologists to join the IOU, especially from the developing and less developed countries. I also served as editor in Current Zoology, editor for Asia in Journal of Ornithology, executive Editor-in-Chief in Avian Research, associate editor in Journal of Biogeography, and associate editor-in-Chief in Zoological Systematics, and etc. I was elected a member of the International Ornithological Committee (called IOU Fellow since 2010) in 1998. I have attended all IOCongresses since the Durban IOCongress in 1998. I was a member of the Scientific Program Committee (SPC) for the 25th IOCongress2010 in Campos do Jordão and the 27th IOCongress2018 in Vancouver. I am happy to cooperate with all who are interested in these research interests for the study and conservation of such the lovely and beautiful animals, the birds!

IOU Honorary President: Elizabeth Höfling (Brazil)

Instituto de Biociências
Universidade de São Paulo
São Paulo, Brazil

After completing my first degree in Natural History I studied for my PhD in Zoology at the University of São Paulo (USP). Subsequently, I obtained a post as lecturer at UP in 1977, and followed an academic career there for 40 years, from 1999 as a Professor in the department of Zoology, teaching in vertebrate zoology courses, and undertakin research studies mainly focused on the anatomy, morpho-functional aspects of vertebrates, and systematics of birds. Since the campus at USP comprises an area of over 400 hectares, which includes remnants of original forest and so with natural vegetation and wildlife, there were opportunities to study the avian fauna on site; some 170 bird species have been registered in an area that is effectively within the metropolitan area of São Paulo city. It is with some pride that I can say that many of my ex-research students are now notable researchers in avian studies, and a number are now teachers in various Brazilian Universities. Following my retirement in 2016 I have continued to engage in active research studies with colleagues at the Muséum national d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, where I was a post-doctoral researcher (1980-1981), and as a research associate of the Museu de História Natural de Taubaté, Brazil. At the 22nd International Ornithological Congress in Durban 1998, I was elected as member of the IOC commitee. I am now Fellow of the International Ornithologists’ Union, and I was happy to be involved in the local organization of the 25th IOC Meeting in Campos do Jordão, Brazil, in 2010.

Immediate Past-President: Lucia Liu Severinghaus (Taiwan)

Biodiversity Research Center, Academia Sinica, 128 Sec II Yen-chiu-yuan Road, Taipei, Taiwan, 105
Past president, International Ornithologists’ Union (IOU) 2018-2022,
President, International Ornithologists’ Union (IOU) 2014-2018;
Vice President, International Ornithologists’ Congress, 2014 


My dedication to promote nature conservation led me to doing research on birds. Through the years I studied several bird species, focusing on their ecology, behavior, and trying to identify the limiting factors on their populations. I first attended the 1974 IOC in Australia as a bird watcher, and was very impressed with the scientific presentations and the associated activities. Since 1986, I have attended and benefited from every IOC and IOCongress as a professional ornithologist. I was elected a member of the International Ornithological Committee (called IOU Fellow since 2010) in 1990. I served on the Scientific Programs Committee for the 2002 Congress in China, and the 2006 Congress in Germany. After being elected the President of IOU in 2014, I worked with other IOU Council members to revise the By-laws of IOU, and took other needed steps to switch from the original conference based IOC to a membership based IOU. I spearheaded the production of the Pronounciation Guide of Scientific Bird Names, and promoted efforts at comparing existing major bird lists of the world. I assisted and supported the establishment of the Working Group on Asian Ornithology. After the 2018 IOCongress in Vancouver, I have served on the IOU Council as the Past President. I look forward to continued collaboration with colleagues in different parts of the world in promoting bird research and conservation.


Member at Large: Adams A. Chaskda

A.P. Leventis Ornithological Research Institute (APLORI)
Department of Zoology
University of Jos
Laminga Road
Jos-east LGA
Plateau State 930106

e-mail: adams.chaskda(at), chaskdaa(at), adams.chaskda(at)

Growing up in Africa is quite fascinating, with beautiful landscapes, flora and fauna so I was lucky to have been born into one of such beautiful landscapes in Adamawa State, Nigeria. Subsequent growth in life was quite adventurous and challenging but by a twist of fate I found myself in the life sciences with a Bachelors in Zoology and subsequently lucky to obtain a scholarship from the A.P. Leventis Foundation to have an MSc in Conservation Biology from West Africa's foremost Ornithological Research Institute, (A.P. Leventis Ornithological Rresearch Institute, University of Jos, Nigeria) and later a PhD in same field from the PercyFitz Patrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, South Africa. Hence, began my new adventure across the African lanscape climbing mountains, walking through its Savannas and forests studying one of the fascinating gifts of nature - birds. I have come to enjoy studying the foraging and breeding behaviour of this creatures, the effects of human activities on their survival and their health status. I am happy to continue to make my contributions towards their survival which is crucial to ours through the various ecosystem services that they render.

Treasurer: Eli Bridge (USA)
Oklahoma Biological Survey, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Oklahoma
660 Parrington Oval
Norman, OK 73019


Birds do not recognize political boundaries. Although the same is not true for humans, we need an organization that can reach across the continents to foster international cooperation and collaboration. It is a very exciting time to be part of the International Ornithologists’ Union as we strive to foster a worldwide community of bird researchers and enthusiasts. I have a strong interest in ornithology as an international endeavor, partly because my current research focuses on animal tracking and bird migration, but also because conserving wildlife on this changing planet will require international coordination. Here is where the IOU can make a real difference, by proving a forum for ornithologists worldwide and a stage for presenting the results of our research efforts. I have attended several International Ornithological Congresses starting with the one in Hamburg in 2006, but I am a newcomer to the council of the IOU. I became treasurer in 2018 just after the IOC in Vancouver, and I am still climbing the learning curve in negotiating the finances of an international non-profit organization. It is a true honor to be part of this organization right now as we modernize and mobilize to reach our full potential as a global scientific society.

Membership Chair: Dra. Patricia Escalante-Pliego

Departamento de Zoología, Instituto de Biología
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Circuito Campos Deportivos s/n
Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán CDMX 04510 México



She studied Biology at the Faculty of Sciences of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM), and graduated from the City University of New York as a PhD in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Program. She is a senior researcher at the UNAM Institute of Biology since 1992, and has also been Curator of the National Collection of Birds since that date. Using the Aves group as a study object, he has made contributions to the genetics, evolution, systematics, phylogeography, ecology, distribution, fauna and conservation of Mexican and American birds. Currently, she contributes the scientific base to conservation projects such as the reintroduction of the Scarlet Macaw in areas of its historical distribution, on issues of genetics, behavior, ecology and environmental education. It also develops tools that contribute to the control of extinction risk factors for species such as genetic fingerprints to control illegal trafficking. It has 56 scientific and 9 popular publications, 18 book chapters, and one book translated. He has offered nine undergraduate and graduate courses and has directed theses to biologists (16), master in science graduate students (13), and doctorate students (2), and has also directed 23 social service practitioners and received 10 students in academic exchange. She belongs to the graduate programs in Biological Sciences, Wildlife, and Sustainability Sciences at UNAM. She was President of CIPAMEX (Society for the Study and Conservation of Birds in Mexico) from 1992-1998, and of the Neotropical Ornithological Society (2003-2007). She has been associate editor of various specialized publications such as Neotropical Ornithology and The Auk. Starting in 2013, the Scarlet Macaw Reintroduction Project began in Los Tuxtlas, Veracruz, México, where a natural population of this endangered species was reestablished in collaboration with rural communities and entrepreneurs of ecotourism.

Convener of the 28th International Ornithological Congress in Durban (South Africa), 14-20 August 2022: Prof Colleen T. Downs (BSc Hons, MEd, PhD, Pr Nat Sci)

Prof Colleen T. Downs (BSc Hons, MEd, PhD, Pr Nat Sci) has been at the University of KwaZulu-Natal since mid-1994. She started as a lecturer teaching biology in the Science Foundation Programme and to 1st year students.  She is now a Professor in the School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg campus and is a University Fellow. She holds a NRF SARCHI Research Chair in Ecosystem health and biodiversity in KwaZulu-Natal and the E. Cape.  She is a terrestrial vertebrate biologist with broad and interdisciplinary research interests. These include conservation, ecology, physiology and behaviour of terrestrial vertebrates (herps, birds and mammals) in unpredictable environments and with changing land use. Another interest is science education (particularly problems experienced by Biology students and development of strategies to address these). Her other contribution has been in the development of research capacity, particularly at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. She was appointed as BirdLife South Africa’s Honorary President for 2016-2020. She is an Honorary Fellow of the International Ornithological Union and the American Ornithological Union. Her hobbies include bird watching and bird banding.

Scientific Program Committee: Professor Will Cresswell

Centre of Biological Diversity, School of Biology, University of St Andrews, Scotland

Email: wrlc[at]


I am Professor of Biology at St Andrews University and I have been a birder for 40 years. I have been studying predator-prey interactions, and the ecology of migrant birds for the last 30. I aim to understand the factors determining the density and distribution of Palearctic migrants wintering in West Africa so that we can address their continuing declines in the face of anthropogenic habitat and climate change. As part of the solution I am also involved with capacity building in the region through helping to run the AP Leventis Ornithological Research Institute that trains future African ornithologists. I have the responsibility for the scientific program for the next IOC in Durban in 2022. Ornithology has never been more useful and relevant as a science to help us understand how the world works and how we can manage it to maintain ecosystem functions and services. But also as a discipline that connects everyone, scientists and citizens alike, through a shared interest in the most accessible and life-enhancing group of animals, wherever you are on the planet. Conferences help share this knowledge and enthusiasm for birds, and global conferences, like the IOC, foster this in the next generation. But we have a number of challenges and opportunities ahead of us to organise a global conference as we face pandemics, climate change and the pressing need for equal opportunity for all scientists. In response, I aim to organise a program for the IOC 2022 that will be the most interesting, accessible and inclusive as possible, particularly encouraging researchers from countries where ornithology is a relatively new discipline, yet where most bird diversity resides.

Member-at-Large: Frank E. Rheindt (Singapore)
National University of Singapore
Department of Biological Sciences
14 Science Drive 4, Singapore 117543

I have been a dedicated birdwatcher since my early childhood years. This lifelong passion was the driving force for me to enter academia as an evolutionary biologist. After stints at Duke, Uni Melbourne and Harvard, I am now an assistant professor at the National University of Singapore, where many of my projects touch upon the diversification process and conservation genetics. My passion has allowed me to travel to all seven continents to witness our planet’s amazing diversity of birds. My work has contributed to the discovery and description of a significant number of new bird species. Owing to my interest in speciation and taxonomy, I have become a member of the IOU’s Working Groups on Avian Nomenclature and on Avian Checklisting, as well as a Commissioner of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. With a main research focus on Asia, I have become involved as a Vice-Chair of the IOU’s Working Group on Asian Ornithology to promote avian biology across this vast continent, including in countries with less academic opportunity. My greatest aspiration as a member of the IOU Council is to assist the IOU in its ongoing expansion of focus into our planet’s tropical and subtropical regions, where most avian diversity lingers.



Council of the International Ornithologists’ Union, 2014 – 2018

President: Professor Dr. Lucia Liu Severinghaus, Biodiversity Research Center, Academia Sinica, 128 See 11 Yen-chiu-yuan Road, Taipei, 11529, Taiwan. Phone: 886-2-27899542; Cell: 011- 886-2-2651-0702; Fax: 886-2-27858059. In San Francisco: Phone: 1-415-929-8532. Email:

Vice President: Professor Dr. Lei Fu-min, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 1 Beichen West Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101, China. Phone: +86 (10) 64807159; Fax: +86 (10) 64807159. E-mail:

Past President: Professor Dr. Franz Bairlein, Institut für Vogelforschung (Institute of Avian Research), Vogelwarte Helgoland, An der Vogelwarte 21, D-26386 Wilhelmshaven, Germany. Phone: +49 4421 96890; Fax +49 4421 968955. E-mail:

Secretary: Professor Dr. Dominique G. Homberger, Department of Biological Sciences, 202 Life Sciences Building, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803-1715, USA. Phone: 1-225-578-1747; Fax: 1-225-578-2597.

Treasurer: Professor Dr. Stephan J. Schoech, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Memphis, 3774 Walker Avenue, Memphis, TN 38152-3560, USA. Phone: 1-901-678-2327; Fax: 1-901-678-4457. E-mail:

Communications and Publications Committee Chair: Professor Dr. Hans Winkler, Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology, Department of Integrative Biology and Evolution, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria E-mail:

IOCongress Convener-General: Professor Dr. Robert W. Elner, Simon Frazer University; and Pacific Wildlife Research Centre, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, RR #1, 5421 Robertson Road, Delta, British Columbia V4K 3N2 CANADA. Phone: 1-604-940-4674; Fax: 1-604-218-9138. E-mail:

Scientific Program Committee Chair: Professor Dr. Kate Buchanan, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus, Locked Bag 20000, Geelong, VIC 3220, Australia. Phone: +61-3-5227-1321: Fax: +61 3 5227 1040. E-mail:;