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Division of Animal Behavior (DAB) - Spring 2000 Newsletter

Message from the Chair

Steve Nowicki

Six years is a long time, but it has gone by more quickly than I imagined possible. It was six years ago when I sat down to compose my first Message from the Chair for the DAB newsletter; now I am composing my last. I do so with a twinge of nostalgia. Being DAB chair has been educational and enjoyable. I've had the opportunity to help both the DAB and SICB define their goals through a period of remarkable transition and renewal. After some rocky years, SICB has found renewed strength and direction, and our society is now on its way to becoming one of the most dynamic scientific societies on the scene today. I've worked to articulate the needs and aspirations of DAB as part of this renewal and I believe our division has played an important role in the society over the last few years. My role as chair also allowed me to work with the Animal Behavior Society on the one hand and the National Science Foundation on the other, in both instances providing a bully pulpit for emphasizing the importance of the work we do. These activities have been fun and rewarding.

I also feel a great sense of optimism for the future as I finish my term in office because we have two outstanding candidates running for election for the next chair. Michelle Scott and David Pfennig both have the energy and ideas we need to continue moving forward. The DAB will be in good hands whatever the outcome! I encourage you to vote, of course, and I also encourage you to consider running for office yourself in the future. Both our Secretary Peter Smallwood and our Program Officer Peggy Hill will be stepping down soon. Both have done a fine job and we'll be sorry to see them go, but I anticipate we will find equally outstanding candidates to run for their offices as well. This is a great time to become more involved with the DAB, now that SICB has found new momentum and developed the resources needed to implement new ideas. You can be part of the fun and help shape the future, too.

Let me end by thanking the many people who have contributed so much to the DAB during my tenure as chair, including those of you who have organized symposia, served as judges for our student awards, chaired paper sessions or simply presented work at our Annual Meeting. We may be a small division, but DAB is full of people with ideas and a willingness to share those ideas. I especially thank those experienced individuals who gave me much appreciated avuncular advice during my first years in office, as well as those of you who offered your opinions, comments and criticisms throughout my two terms in office. Grass-roots democracy is alive and kicking at the DAB! Finally, I especially want to thank the other two-thirds of the DAB Executive Committee, Peter and Peggy, who have made things work (in spite of my mistakes) with dedication, intelligence and good humor.

Message from the Program Officer

Peggy Hill

Thanks to all who participated in the 2000 Annual Meeting in Atlanta. It was our first try at organizing papers by topic rather than precisely by division, and the transition was rather painless due to the good will and flexibility of the membership. Congratulations to students who participated in the poster and paper competitions, because the quality of contributions was commendable.

Our next meeting will be held January 3-7, 2001, in Chicago, and DAB is co-sponsoring two symposia. "Vibration as a Communication Channel," which I am organizing, is the primary offering of DAB, and it is co-sponsored by the Division of Neurobiology. We hope to have a portion of the general poster session delegated to communication, and we plan a reception to allow symposium speakers and participants some time to discuss common interests more informally. "Living Together: The Dynamics of Symbiotic Interactions," organized by Mary Beth Saffo, is co-sponsored by DAB and the Division of Invertebrate Zoology. These are two of a dozen symposia that promise much for the Chicago meeting.

The 2002 meeting in Anaheim is currently being planned. Symposia are to be proposed at the society-level by June of this year, and anyone interested in convening a group for Anaheim should contact me, or one of the other DAB officers, as soon as possible. We already have a DAB offering with the tentative title of "Responding to the World with a Little Nervous System: Unique Models for Studying Sensory/Motor Integration" that is being organized by Frederick Prete. However, the division can propose additional symposia or other sorts of activities, including plenary speakers or workshops. Please submit all ideas for the Anaheim meeting before June.

My term as DAB program officer is over in another year, and I can recommend the experience highly to any of you with an interest in serving the society, specifically the DAB. I have enjoyed the interactions with other officers within and outside my division, and have formed lasting friendships. I have also enjoyed the opportunity to impact programming during my tenure in an exciting time for the society. If you have an interest in holding a DAB office in the future, please contact any of the current officers. We all plan to be a part of the division for a long time!

Message from the Secretary

Peter Smallwood

Best Student Paper Awards!

Congratulations to Elizabeth A. (Beth) MacDougall-Shackleton of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton. She won the DAB's Best Student Paper Award for her oral presentation titled "Effects of juvenile and adult experience on song preferences of female mountain white-crowned sparrows" (with S. A. MacDougall-Shackleton & T. P. Hahn). And congratulations to Elizabeth W. Freeman of the Department of Biology at Virginia Commonwealth University. Elizabeth won our Best Student Poster award for her poster, "Polyandrous parasitoid: mating behavior of the parasitic wasp Cotesia congregata (Say) [Hymenoptera: Braconidae]" (with K. M. Kester).

All graduate students are encouraged to compete for these awards at the Chicago meeting. There are actually three separate awards, each with its own cash prize: the best student poster award, best student paper award, and the A.M. Wenner Strong Inference Award (for the paper best exemplifying the use of strong inference in their experimental design). To be eligible for the DAB student paper awards, the applicant must be a member of SICB and our division. The student must indicate their intention to compete on the abstract transmittal form. Eligible papers must be original research by a graduate student or a Ph.D. whose degree was awarded no more than one year prior to the time of the meeting. Further information about support for graduate student attendance of the meeting of SICB can be found elsewhere in this newsletter. Check it out: SICB can usually provide for your lodging in exchange for a half day of help (e.g., running the slide projector for an afternoon).


There were several great symposia at the Atlanta meetings this year, and the Division of Animal Behavior helped with two of them. DAB co-sponsored "Intermittent Locomotion: Integrating the Physiology, Biomechanics, and Behavior of Repeated Activity," organized by Randi Weinstein and Bob Full. And we also contributed to a terrific society-wide pair of symposia on plant-animal interactions. For the first time, researchers of marine plant-animal interactions were brought together with those who study terrestrial systems. The two-day event was productive and enjoyable for all. The marine part of the symposium was organized by Dianna Padilla (DEE) and Kathy Van Alstyne, while the terrestrial part was organized by… well… modesty prevents. We are now gathering the papers from the terrestrial symposium for submission to the American Zoologist.

Our tradition of strong symposia will continue at the 2001 meetings in Chicago, with a symposium on "Vibrations as a Communication Channel," organized by our own Program Officer Peggy Hill. See her statement for more information on upcoming symposia. And as always please feel free to contact us if you have an idea for a symposium.


Candidates for Chair of the Division of Animal Behavior

Michelle Pellissier Scott

Current position: Associate Professor of Zoology, University of New Hampshire.

Education: B.A., Wellesley College 1961; M.A., Harvard University, 1980; Ph.D., Harvard University, 1984.

Professional experience: Research Associate (1985-87), Research Assistant

Professor (1987-90), Department of Biology, Boston University; Science Fellow, Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College (1987-88); Assistant Professor (1990-94), Associate Professor (1994-present), Department of Zoology, University of New Hampshire.

SICB activities: Participant at meetings.

Other memberships: Animal Behavior Society: Judge Allee competition for best student paper (1991, 1994); Member-at-Large (1997-2000); Ran student research grant competition 2000; Hosted meeting of North East Regional Animal Behavior Society (1994); Organized symposia at NERABS 1998 and ABS 1998. International Society for Behavioral Ecology.

Research interests: I am interested in the ultimate and proximate mechanisms of parental and cooperative behavior. Burying beetles have served as a model system to investigate the evolution of paternal care and of communal breeding. I have used a combined approach on these unusual insects of field and laboratory manipulations with a bit of modeling. During a reproductive bout, male and female must undergo changes of behavior at appropriate times and coordinate these behaviors with those of their mate. Recently I have begun work to understand how hormones, JH and ecdysone in particular, might regulate these reproductive and social behaviors.

Goals statement: I have been an active member of the Animal Behavior Society for many years and am new to SICB. An integrative approach to studying biology, which is of course what SICB stand for, has become more important to me recently and I wish to become more involved. I would like to see the DAB maintain its high standard of contributions to the society by helping to promote symposia on topics that integrate ultimate and proximate mechanisms. I also would look forward to serving as the liaison person between ABS and SICB.

David Pfennig

Current position: Associate Professor of Biology and Ecology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Education: B.S., University of Texas-Austin, 1979; M.S., University of Texas-San Antonio, 1982; Ph.D., University of Texas-Austin, 1989.

Professional experience: Senior Research Assistant, 1980-85, Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research; Visiting Assistant Professor, 1989-91, Arizona State University; NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, 1991-1993, Cornell University; Assistant Professor, 1993-1996, University of Illinois-Urbana; Assistant Professor, 1996-1999, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Associate Professor, 1999-present, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

SICB activities: Member, 1999-present.

Other memberships: Ecological Society of American, Editorial Board, 1999-present; International Society of Behavioral Ecology; Society for the Study of Evolution; Organization of Tropical Studies, Board of Directors, 1997-present; Advisory Panel Member, NSF Program in Animal Behavior, 1999

Research interests: My research is aimed at understanding the processes of natural selection and adaptation. I am especially interested in the interface between behavior, ecology, development and evolution. My current research concentrates on kin selection, the evolution of recognition systems, the role of resource competition in promoting phenotypic diversity and the influence of pathogens on the evolution of host behavior.

Goals statement: As chair of the Division of Animal Behavior, I will work toward increasing participation in DAB by researchers with diverse interests in behavior, ecology and evolution. I hope to achieve this goal by attracting DAB-sponsored symposia that appeal to a broad audience. I also will work to increase student participation in DAB.