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Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Pete Marra Receives American Ornithological Society’s Elliott Coues Award

Pete Marra, director of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, is the recipient of the American Ornithological Society’s prestigious Elliott Coues Award in recognition of his outstanding and innovative ornithological research.

His groundbreaking research in avian conservation science has four broad themes, including the ecology of migratory birds, urban ecosystem ecology, disease ecology and the impacts of invasive species.

The American Ornithological Society established this award in honor of Elliott Coues, a pioneering ornithologist of the western United States and a founding member of the American Ornithologists’ Union. The 2018 AOS Coues Award will be presented at this year’s American Ornithological Society Conference in Tuscon, Arizona on Thursday, April 12.

Marra's primary interests lie in understanding the factors that control population persistence and dynamics. His research examines the roles of climate, habitat, food, invasive species, as well as other anthropogenic sources of mortality on the individual condition of both migratory and resident birds.

His research emphasizes incorporating events throughout the annual cycle to understand how more complex interactions across seasons drive the ecology and evolution of species, and he uses this information to find conservation solutions. To do this, he has developed and incorporated multiple novel and emerging tracking techniques and quantitative approaches into his research.

Marra has founded several large research and communication initiatives, including Neighborhood Nestwatch and The Migratory Connectivity Project. Communicating his science and his excitement for the conservation of wildlife to as wide an audience as possible, including the general public, is a high priority of his overall program.

Marra and his students, post docs and colleagues have published more than 200 peer reviewed scientific papers in journals such as Science, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Proceedings of the Royal Society and Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

He has been recognized numerous times for his contributions to research in ornithology and conservation including receiving the Smithsonian Institution’s Secretary’s Distinguished Research Prize twice (2008, 2010).

Marra earned a B.S. from Southern Connecticut State University, a master's from Louisiana State University and a Ph.D from Dartmouth College.