The IUCN-SCC Heron Specialist Group


The Specialist Group is led by two co-chairs and a Steering Committee. The co-chairs term is 2015-2019. Steering Committee appointments are open ended. Additional Steering Committee members may be appointed as appropriate.

The co-chairs and the current Steering Committee are:

  • John Brzorad, USA
  • Rob Clay, Paraguay
  • Dale Gawlik, USA
  • Gemma Goodman-Hattie, UK
  • Clay Green, USA, Co-chair
  • Doug Harebottle, South Africa
  • Cathy King, Germany
  • James Kushlan, USA, Co-Chair
  • Luis Gonzalo Morales, Venezuela
  • Rebecca Pradhan, Bhutan
  • Sara Schweitzer, USA
  • Anna Stier, France
  • Chip Weseloh, Canada

Much of the planning, facilitation, and coordination of conservation will be undertaken by species and geographic working groups. These groups are self-organizing, connecting to the Specialist Group in whatever ways are appropriate to them. The Specialist Group in turn will encourage and assist the working groups as it is able. Working groups will also be tasked with some of the important activities of the Group itself. At present there are five working groups:

Biographies and Contact Information for Steering Committee members:

John Brzorad is an Associate Professor within the Department of Biology, Lenoir-Rhyne University (LRU) in Hickory, North Carolina. He is also Co-Director of the Reese Institute for Conservation of Natural Resources at LRU and has started a non-profit organization called 1000 Herons which focuses on research and education related to egrets and herons. John began his research on wading birds studying the information center hypothesis. Since then, he has examined foraging ecology, responses to pollution, and most recently energetics. John and his collaborators have embraced state-of-the-art GPS-GSM tracking technology to expand our understanding of habitat/prey requirements and energetics of Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons. Since 2000, John has published numerous peer-reviewed publications, and started 1000 Herons in the past year. The goal of that organization is to introduce school-age children to the ecology of herons, egrets and the technology used to learn about them while doing research. John has chaired the Grants Committee of the Waterbird Society and currently serves on the Executive Council. Lenoir-Rhyne University, Reese Institute for Conservation of Natural Resources, 625 7th Ave. NE., Hickory, NC 28630, USA, 1 828-328-7606,

Rob Clay is director of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) Executive Office at Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences. Rob has been working on the conservation of birds throughout the Western Hemisphere for over 20 years, for Guyra Paraguay and most recently as senior conservation manager in the Americas Secretariat of BirdLife International. At BirdLife, he led the ”rangewide waterbirds” project on behalf of Waterbird Conservation for the Americas, which assessed the status of waterbirds and waterbird conservation throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean. Rob is the current Chair of the Council for Waterbirds Conservation for the Americas, and the COP-Appointed Co-Scientific Councilor for Birds to the Convention on Migratory Species. He is based in Paraguay, where he coordinated national participation in the Neotropical Waterbird Census from 2001-2005. WHSRN Executive Office, Rodríguez de Francia 869, Asunción, Paraguay, 595-972-911424,

Dale E. Gawlik is Director of the Environmental Science Program and Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Florida Atlantic University. His research focuses on waterbird ecology and conservation, wetland and intertidal ecosystems, restoration ecology, and the use of birds in aquatic ecosystem management. His work with herons is primarily in identifying wetland processes that control their populations and in quantifying their response through changes in their productivity, behavior, and physiological condition. He has a special focus on hydrological processes. He and his students have developed heron habitat models that link bird populations to the hydrologic management and restoration of the Everglades, of Florida, U.S. Biological Sciences, Florida Atlantic University, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton, FL 33431-0991, USA, 1 561-297-3333,

Gemma Goodman-Hattie is the Lead of the Species and the Freshwater Portfolios at Synchronicity Earth. Synchroncity Earth is a charitable foundation helping to scale-up conservation giving and action by empowering people and organisations striving to protect the most threatened and overlooked species and ecosystems. Prior to joining Synchronicity Earth, she worked at TRAFFIC, the Wildlife Trade monitoring network; for a number of other environmental charities and government organisations. She currently serves on the Global Council of the Amphibian Survival Alliance and is the Coordinator of the White-bellied Heron Working Group. She helped plan and execute a species conservation-planning workshop in India for the White-bellied Heron in 2014, which led to the development of the working group, species review and species conservation strategy. Synchronicity Earth, 32a Thurloe Place, London SW7 2HQ, UK, 44 (0) 207 5817781,

M. Clay Green is an Associate Professor within the Department of Biology, Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. His dissertation research focused on the ecological significance of plumage coloration in herons and egrets. Since then, he has been involved in various aspects of waterbird research including the ecology and evolution of plumage dimorphism, evaluation of colonial waterbird survey techniques, and the ecology and conservation of several waterbird species including Reddish Egrets, Green Herons, Little Blue Herons, Black Rails, American White Pelicans and American Oystercatchers. Since 2000, he has published numerous peer-reviewed publications, written the status report for the Reddish Egret and co-chaired the Working Group for Reddish Egret, and given numerous presentations at professional meetings and for local groups. Clay’s research is primarily focused in the U.S., Caribbean and Mexico. He has also served as Councilor on the Executive Council of the Waterbird Society and currently serves as Secretary for the society. Department of Biology, 601 University Drive, Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas 78666, USA, 1 512-245-8037,

Doug Harebottle is a Research Fellow within the Department of Biodiversity and Conservation Biology, University of the Western Cape and the South African National Biodiversity Institute in Cape Town, South Africa. His PhD research focused on computing a conservation value index for wetlands based on abundance for all waterbirds at individual sites. This index has helped identify important waterbird sites that fall outside the Ramsar and/or IBA network and the need for improved conservation action at landscape level. He spent 14 years at the Animal Demography Unit at the University of Cape Town managing numerous citizen-science based bird monitoring programs. He has been involved with different work on herons, ibises and spoonbills and other heronry-related work, including a long-term ringing programme at local heronries in the Cape Town metropolitan area looking at dispersal and site-fidelity. He has also launched HeronryMAP a volunteer-based project to map and record the status of heronries in Africa, with a focus in South Africa with the aim to identify priority sites and manage conservation interventions. He is also involved with some duck work and is currently the African representative for the IUCN/WI Duck Specialist Group. Doug is a member of the South African Wetland Society and the Cape Bird Club Conservation Committee. He chaired the scientific committee for the 12th Pan-African Ornithological Congress (PAOC) held in South Africa in 2008 and has published numerous peer-reviewed and popular publications. Department of Biodiversity and Conservation Biology, University of the Western Cape, P.O. Box 17, Bellvile, South Africa,

Catherine King the Coordinator of International Programs and Conservation Biologist for Weltvogelpark Walsrode in Germany. Cathy has served as Chair for the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) Ciconiiformes and Phoenicopteriformes Taxon Advisory Group (TAG) since 1992. The TAG focuses on improved husbandry, cooperative management, research and conservation of species under its umbrella, including the Ardeidae. An important function of the group serves as a link between in situ and ex situ workers. Additionally Cathy is the European studbook keeper for Marabou Storks Leptoptilos crumeniferus and the wreathed hornbills Rhyticeros plicatus and R. undulatus, and the EEP Coordinator for the Oriental white stork Ciconia boyciana. She serves in some other TAGs and EEP committees and is in several IUCN-SSC specialist groups, but continues to have a particular fondness for all things waterbird. Weltvogelpark Walsrode, Am Vogelpark, 29664, Walsrode, Germany,

James A. Kushlan is a biologist and conservationist specializing in wetlands and in the biology and conservation of waterbirds. He has published over 200 professional papers and eight books and has held the posts of senior scientist with the National Park Service, professor of biology and chair of the Center for Water Resources at Texas A&M – Commerce, and professor and chair of Biology at The University of Mississippi, director of the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, and research associate at the Smithsonian Institution. He is the founder and chair of the North American Waterbird Conservation Initiative (now Waterbird Conservation for the Americas), founding co-chair of the Heron Specialist Group, and past president of the Waterbird Society and American Ornithologists’ Union. PO Box 2008, Key Biscayne, FL, 33149, USA, 1 305-365-0306,

Luis Gonzalo Morales has taught Ecology and Conservation at Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas since 1978. His research has dealt with general ecology, diet, and feeding behavior of herons, ibises, and other aquatic birds in the Llanos and coastal wetlands of Venezuela as well as chemical contamination and baseline studies of birds in oil-producing natural areas, the relationship between human malaria and deforestation in Venezuelan rainforests, and ecosystem services of cloud forests. My current research is a multivariate analysis of country-wide waterbird assemblages, ecological morphology of herons and ibises, and the National Census of Aquatic. I am member of the Society for Waterbird Biology, the Society for Conservation Biology, the Ecological Society of Venezuela, and the Union of Venezuelan Ornithologists. Instituto de Zoologia Tropical, Fac. Ciencias, Central University of Venezuela, Apartado 47058,1041-A Caracas, Venezuela, 582126051424,

Rebecca Pradhan is an ecologist at the Royal Society for Protection of Nature, Bhutan. She leads the research and conservation program for the White-bellied Heron in Bhutan. She is a member of the White-bellied Heron Working Group. Post box 883,Thimphu, Bhutan, 009752322056,

Sara H. Schweitzer is an Adjunct Professor and Graduate Faculty with the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia and leads the Waterbird Investigations and Management Project in the Wildlife Diversity Program of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. She was previously a professor at the Warnell School. Her primary research is on the biology and conservation of waterbirds. She has published ove 60 papers and reports. She is a member of the Steering Committee and Council for Partners in Flight and the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Partnership Council, andChair of the PIF/Shorebird/Waterbird Working Group of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. NC Wildlife Resources Commission, Wildlife Diversity Program, New Bern, North Carolina 28562, USA, 1 252-639-8435,

Anna Stier is an ecologist working in habitat conservation and management. She is a project manager at GEPOG, an NGO studying and protecting birds in French Guiana. She is responsible for projects on local savannas and on the Agami heron. She is lead author of a species conservation plan for the Agami Heron and chair of the Agami Heron Working Group. GEPOG, 15 Avenue Pasteur, 97300 Cayenne (FRANCE – French Guiana). 594-594-294696,

D. V. Chip Weseloh is a waterbird biologist retired from h the Canadian Wildlife Service and before that was Curator of Ornithology at the Provincial Museum of Alberta. He has studied a varity of waterbirds including gulls, terns, cormorants, pelicans, herons and egrets on the North American Great Lakes for 35 years. He has published regularly on waterbirds and is currently studying post-fledging dispersal, migration and wintering areas of Ontario-banded juvenile Great Egrets. He is past President of the Waterbird Society and Chair of its Future Meetings Committee. 1391 Mt. Pleasant Rd., Toronto, Ontario M4N 2T7, Canada, 1 647-631-4329,