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Dr. Dale Gawlik

Endowed Chair for Conservation and Biodiversity, Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

Dr. Gawlik is the Endowed Chair for Conservation and Biodiversity at the Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M Corpus Christi and a Professor in the Department of Life Sciences. Prior to coming to the Harte Research Institute, he spent over 25 years in South Florida conducting research focused on waterbird ecology and conservation, wetland and intertidal ecosystems, restoration ecology, and the use of birds in aquatic ecosystem management. He has published over 80 papers, many focused on how water level fluctuations in coastal and freshwater ecosystems control wading bird populations. He and his students have developed heron, stork, and ibis habitat models that link bird populations to the hydrologic management and restoration of the Everglades of Florida. Dr. Gawlik is a Fellow in the American Ornithological Society and he serves on the IUCN Heron Specialists Group and IUCN Stork, Ibis, and Spoonbill Specialist Group. He also is a member of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Science Advisory Committee for the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, the Wood Stork Working Group, and the International Reddish Egret Working Group. Dr. Gawlik has been held elected leadership positions in professional scientific societies, including the Association of Field Ornithologists, Waterbird Society, Wilson Ornithological Society, and the Florida Chapter of the Wildlife Society.


Talk: Wading birds across the Gulf: from the Everglades of Florida to the Coastal Bend of Texas

Join Dr. Gawlik as he takes us on a visual journey through the Everglades, a national treasure with three international designations.  The fate of this sensitive ecosystem that feeds the Gulf of Mexico is intertwined with that of 8 million residents of South Florida who depend on the same water.  In that way, it mirrors the fate of people living in the Coastal Bend of Texas who depend on a healthy Gulf of Mexico for jobs and recreation.  Declines in wading bird populations in the Everglades were one of the first and most visible signs that the ecosystem was collapsing.  Uncertainty in how to reverse this degradation led to over 40 years of research studies aimed at guiding water managers.  Dr. Gawlik takes us through a slice of those studies building on the knowledge of how wading birds respond to water and how water can be manipulated to restore the ecosystem, a $23 billion investment in re-establishing more natural water flows to benefit both nature and people.  He then moves across the Gulf to the Coastal Bend of Texas, highlighting the conservation needs of Texas waterbirds and the research he and his collaborators are doing to support them.