SICB Annual Meeting 2011
January 3-7, 2011
Salt Lake City, UT

Symposium: Environment, Energetics and Fitness: a Symposium Honoring Donald W. Thomas

This symposium is in honor of Professor Donald W. Thomas who died suddenly in early summer 2009 while doing field research in Corsica. The symposium will focus on recent advances linking environmental variation, energetics and the fitness of endotherms. Don Thomas was recognized world-wide for his contribution to the ecology and physiology of bats, rodents and birds. As Dr. Thomas pointed out on his web-site: "Although I have a slight bias towards bats, chipmunks and blue tits in Corsica, I like to think that it is the question rather than the taxonomic group that drives research". His research focused mainly on physiology of thermoregulation, hibernation and over-wintering strategies of bats and rodents, as well as the evolutionary and physiological ecology of breeding birds. Some of his most important contributions demonstrate how energetics serves as a mechanistic link between environmental variation and the fitness of endotherms. This is an important and rapidly growing area of research in physiology and ecology, driven in part by recent successes in embedding field-based measures of physiological traits into long-term field studies of individual fitness and population dynamics, as well as the search for mechanistic traits that may be used to predict population responses to environmental change. The ability of animals to respond and adjust to environmental challenges is the key concept of the Darwinian theory of natural selection. Fitness in turn, defined as the reproductive success of individuals (or their per capita rate of growth) describes their success in a given environment. Individual variability in energy acquisition, expenditure and conservation influence life history traits, which eventually lead to differences in performance and fitness. Thus, resolving the link between an individual's environment and its energetics and fitness is crucial for understanding the persistence and performance of animals in various environments. This organism-environment linkage has recently been identified as one of the five grand challenges of organismal biology. We have selected "Environment, energetics and fitness" as the focus of this symposium because of the importance of Don Thomas' contribution to this topic and its growing importance to organismal biology. An essential part of Don Thomas' legacy was his infectious enthusiasm for science and discovery that was especially influential on young researchers. The international diversity of confirmed presenters for this symposium, which includes early career researchers as well as internationally recognized senior researchers, both women and men, from Poland, Israel, Australia, South Africa, the USA and Canada, is reflective of the diversity of Don's international influence.

Sponsors: DCBP, DEE, Sable Systems Int.


  • Michal Wojciechowski, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Torun, Poland
  • Murray Humphries, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  • Berry Pinshow, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel


S10.1 Friday, Jan. 7, 07:45 CAREAU, V: Donald William Thomas (1953-2009): the free expression of thoughts and ideas

S10.2 Friday, Jan. 7, 08:00 GEISER, Fritz*; STAWSKI, Clare: Hibernation and torpor in tropical and subtropical bats

S10.3 Friday, Jan. 7, 08:30 MCKECHNIE, A.E.*; MZILIKAZI, N.: Heterothermy in Afrotropical mammals and birds: a review

S10.4 Friday, Jan. 7, 09:00 WILLIS, Craig K.R.*; BOYLES, Justin G.: Hibernation energetics, evaporative water loss and conservation of bats

S10.5 Friday, Jan. 7, 09:30 GUTOWSKI, Jakub P.*; DUBICKI, Adam; WOJCIECHOWSKI, Michal S.; JEFIMOW, Malgorzata: The effects of diet on thermoregulation and torpor in Siberian hamsters.

S10.6 Friday, Jan. 7, 10:30 PINSHOW, B*; AAMIDOR, S; MIZRAHY, O; MCWILLIAMS, SR; BAUCHINGER, U: The effects of dietary protein and water availability on mass gain in passerine birds refueling during migration.

S10.7 Friday, Jan. 7, 11:00 VÉZINA, F.: Cold acclimation, migration, and phenotypic compromises in a long distance migratory shorebird

S10.8 Friday, Jan. 7, 11:30 WOJCIECHOWSKI, Michal S.*; JEFIMOW, Malgorzata; PINSHOW, Berry: Hypothermia in small migrating passerines. What can bats teach us about bird migration?

S10.9 Friday, Jan. 7, 13:00 HUMPHRIES, Murray*; CAREAU, Vincent: Activity substitution for thermoregulation and the metabolic ecology of endotherms

S10.10 Friday, Jan. 7, 13:30 KORINE, Carmi*; SáNCHEZ, Francisco; PINSHOW, Berry: Ethanol Increase Food Consumption in summer but not in winter: Effects of Ethanol Consumption on Skin Temperature of the Egyptian Fruit Bats

S10.11 Friday, Jan. 7, 14:00 LEVY, Ofir; DAYAN, Tamar; KRONFELD-SCHOR, Noga*: Thermal ecology of a diurnal desert rodent

S10.12 Friday, Jan. 7, 14:30 SPEAKMAN, JR*; KROL, E: Heat dissipation and hyperthermia risk as limiting factors in endotherm ecology