SICB Logo: Click Here to go to the SICB Home Page
General Officer Messages
Committee Reports

DAB: 1998 Fall Newsleter

This Newsletter by Section

Message from the Chair

Steve Nowicki

The upcoming 1999 SICB Annual Meeting in Denver, Jan. 6-10, looks as though it will be a particularly exciting time for those of us interested in animal behavior. One good reason for this excitement is the symposium titled "Animal Consciousness: Historical, Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives," cosponsored by DAB and DICI. Irene Lofstrom and Matt Cartmill have put together an outstanding group of participants, including (but hardly limited to) Derek Bickerton, Dorothy Cheney, Marion Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Don Griffin, Marc Hauser and Robert Seyfarth. The list of speakers is outstanding not only because it includes such luminaries, but also because it represents a truly diverse set of opinions on this challenging issue. This promises to be another in the long line of exceptional symposia supported by DAB over the years and it surely will be a memorable event. We are looking for other exceptional animal behavior symposia to support at future meetings! Now that Peggy Hill is on board as our new program officer, I'm sure she will be delighted to get your symposium ideas.

The upcoming meeting also promises to be a good one for contributed papers in animal behavior. In particular, we'll have a strong showing of papers on the topic of animal communication - I don't know if this is my influence, but I'm happy to see it.

And then there are all those other talks to attend! As I have argued several times in these pages, animal behavior is inherently an integrative science, and there are few (if any) divisions of SICB that do not offer papers of interest to members of our group. Scientists who study animal behavior integrate questions and methodologies across levels of analysis (e.g., from molecules to ecosystems), across levels of explanation (from proximate mechanism to ultimate evolutionary causation) and across diverse taxa. As such, the study of animal behavior often provides a conceptual bridge between otherwise seemingly disparate disciplines. Ironically, the fact that animal behaviorists are so darn integrative is one of the main reasons I think that our division remains small in SICB. Most of our members find strong connections with other divisions and, as a result, often contribute papers to those other divisions as well as to ours. This isn't a bad thing - in fact I think it is a very healthy way to approach science - but it does present some practical difficulties. Most notable is the problem of scheduling DAB contributed paper sessions so that they do not overlap with equally interesting papers in ecology, endocrinology, functional morphology and so forth.

A solution to this difficulty is to increase the amount of interdivisional crosstalk on all levels. The question of whether SICB can or should decrease the emphasis on divisions and promote more society-wide efforts was discussed at the last Executive Committee meeting in Boston. Some argued in favor of moving away from a divisional structure altogether, while others argued for the continued advantages of the current divisional framework. Those of us at the DAB business meeting supported a move towards greater integration, largely because we felt it would improve our ability to take full advantage of the diverse offerings of the Society and its meetings as a whole. I am sure this issue will be the subject of ongoing discussion in SICB over the next couple of years and I would be happy to hear your opinions. With all this anticipation of a good meeting in Denver, I'm sorry to say that I will not be able to join you there because of other commitments. However, Peter Smallwood and Peggy Hill will take the reins at this one. Look for them to give your ideas about future symposia, future directions for DAB or any other questions of concerns you may have.

Message from the Program Officer

Peggy S. M. Hill

Please allow me to introduce myself to those of the membership whom I have not met. I am not "THE" Peggy Hill, substitute Spanish teacher, wife and mother of "King of the Hill" fame. She is much more popular than I am, even though I am a wife and mother, even a grandmother! I am assistant professor of Biological Science and associate director of Native American Studies at the University of Tulsa, Okla. My research interests, broadly expressed, are in how animals use sensory cues to make choices in resource acquisition. My primary work since 1992 is with acoustic communication in the prairie mole cricket, a rare burrowing insect of the tallgrass prairie of the central U.S. In trying to answer questions about female choice in the species, I have branched out to study the sexual advertisement call in terms of harmonics in the airborne signal to females and vibration signals to nearby males. In addition, I continue collaborative work begun in 1988 with Harrington Wells of Tulsa University on honeybee foraging ecology, specifically individual constancy to flower color.

Like many other physiological/behavioral ecologists I know, I teach physiology to potential doctors and nurses! I received my Ph.D. in 1996, in Zoology with the University of Oklahoma. I was mentored by Vic Hutchison. Prior to that I was an instructor at the University of Tulsa for five years and a high school biology teacher for 10 years. My master's work was in introgressive hybridization in oaks, so I have followed a circuitous route to my current position.

I joined SICB in the centennial year at the San Antonio meeting. I have attended six Annual Meetings since then, where I gave talks, co-chaired sessions, judged student papers and generally enjoyed myself! My new role as program officer involves helping to develop the high quality symposia that have been a hallmark of our division, and I am pleased to serve the Society and division in this capacity. Since I did run unopposed for the office of program officer, I have no mandate to accept from the DAB electorate; therefore, please accept this transmission as an official solicitation of suggestions for future symposia. We are cosponsoring the symposium on animal consciousness in Denver, but now is a great time to make plans for future meetings.

I look forward to hearing from you and to seeing you in Denver in January.

The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology
1313 Dolley Madison Blvd Suite 402
McLean VA 22101
Phone: 703-790-1745 or 800-955-1236
FAX: 703-790-2672