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West Nile virus focus during ornithologists' meeting

Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor (217) 333-5802;


(EDITORS: Members of the news media are welcome to attend any of the sessions)

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The West Nile virus is the focus of a dozen research papers to be presented Aug. 9 (Saturday) during the 121st Stated Meeting of the American Ornithologists’ Union, Aug. 5-9, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Another topic to be covered by some of the 475 scientists attending the conference is golf courses – how they can play a role as habitats in the conservation of bird populations across the country. Ten papers on the subject will be presented beginning at 1 p.m. Aug. 6 (Thursday) in Room A of the Illini Union, 1401 W. Green St., Urbana.

The AOU, founded in 1883, is the oldest and largest organization in the Western Hemisphere dedicated to the scientific study of birds. The conference, for registered scientists only, will be held in buildings surrounding the Quad. Illinois co-organizers are Jeffrey D. Brawn, a professor of animal biology, of natural resources and of environmental sciences, and Scott K. Robinson, a professor of animal biology.

Because of the possible impact of the West Nile virus on birds, Brawn said, a full-day symposium will be held from 9:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Room 314 of Altgeld Hall, 1409 W. Green St., Urbana. More than 150 U.S. bird species have been affected. Researchers will present their latest findings, including efforts to monitor the spread of the insect-borne disease, which also has affected humans, horses, wildlife and pets.

Sponsors of the event are the Environmental Council, Program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and School of Integrative Biology, all on campus; the Illinois Natural History Survey; and the U.S. Army Civilian Engineering Research Lab. For more detailed information, see