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Michelle Duval

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DIZ: 1997 Fall Newsleter

This Newsletter by Section

Message from the Chair

Daphne Fautin

Being a packrat, I have a fat folder of newsletters of this organization going back, oh, let's just say a number of years. In the first year of my chairship/chairpersonship/chairwomanship, I sought inspiration in them. I quickly discovered a theme of the fall newsletters: "We are eagerly anticipating the 1993 Los Angeles meeting...," "I am pleased to report that plans for the workshop in Washington, D.C. in 1991 are progressing...," "Our coming meeting in Denver promises to be almost as large as the one in Philadelphia last year [1983]," and so on.

Therefore, in keeping with long-standing tradition, it falls to me to remind you that SICB will be meeting soon - in Boston. But, of course, this is an announcement with a couple of differences: the year and the month. There will not be an SICB Annual Meeting in the calendar year of 1997; rather, as of 1998, we begin the tradition of meeting early in January and, to be specific, January 3-7, 1998.

In their wisdom, the SICB higher-ups did not remove the 1997 budget along with the 1997 meeting. Which means that DIZ (and other divisions as well) can have both 1997 and 1998 monetary allocations to spend on the Boston meeting. What a good opportunity that presents for unusually generous financial support of some wonderful symposia! (See program officer McHugh's column for details). Please attend as many of these sessions as you can - enjoy the breadth of this very large division and, in the process, show your support of DIZ and SICB.

You can participate in other ways, too. On the complete program, please circle in red the divisional business meeting to remind you to attend it; come help us decide how to spend our money, time and effort! Be thinking especially about symposia you would like to see presented or, better yet, to organize for the meeting in the year 2000. Boston will be an ideal time to brainstorm with potential co-organizers and speakers, and to obtain sponsorship and co-sponsorship commitments from divisional chairs and program officers. It's your organization - take advantage of that fact by participating!

Although DIZ will not be electing any officers in 1998, we will need candidates in the future, so talk to officers in Boston about their duties, and consider volunteering to throw your hat in the ring next time around. If organizing a symposium is a bit too much, or if 2000 is too far into the future for you to make a commitment, or if you think you need more experience before running for office, participate in Boston by judging student talks or papers, or chairing a session. Let me or another officer know as soon as you can if we can count on you in any of these ways to help make the Boston meeting a grand success.

As ever, the SICB Annual Meeting is an ideal opportunity to introduce students to this aspect of the scientific enterprise. Support of students — financially and professionally — is a major function of SICB. If you are a student, come to Boston and don't be shy: ask questions, meet people, attend sessions on subjects that interest you but that you may not have time to study formally, and get involved with the society. If you are a professor, help your students get involved in SICB; introduce them to your colleagues at the meeting, encourage them to present their research and to ask questions in sessions, and bring them along to business meetings.

See you all in Boston!

Message from the Program Officer

Damhnait McHugh

The plans for the SICB 1998 Annual Meeting in Boston are well underway. In addition to scheduling divisional and interdivisional sessions for the papers and posters that many of you submitted, we are also busy planning for the following DIZ-sponsored symposia:

• "Coral Reefs and Environmental Change: Adaptation, Acclimation, or Extinction?" Organizers: Robert W. Buddemeier and Howard W. Lasker

• "Evolutionary Relationships of Metazoan Phyla: Advances, Problems and Approaches" Organizers: Damhnait McHugh and Ken Halanych

• "Developmental and Evolutionary Perspectives on Major Transformations in Body Organization: Building a Better Body Plan " Organizers: Lennart Olsson and Brian Hall • "Comparative Embryology of Myogenesis" Organizer: Judith Venuti

• "The Compleat Crustacean Biologist: A Symposium Recognizing the Achievements of Dorothy M. Skinner" Organizers: Donald L. Mykles and Linda H. Mantel

An added feature of the Boston meeting is a hands-on workshop on the subject of integrative and comparative biology in the classroom, which is being organized by Daphne Fautin. With such a full and exciting program, I hope you can all attend the Boston meeting. I am looking forward to seeing you all there!

With such a great schedule planned for Boston, we were disappointed to receive only one DIZ symposium proposal for the Denver meeting. I strongly encourage all of you to consider the possibility of developing a symposium or workshop that highlights new themes in invertebrate zoology, pays tribute to a great invertebrate zoologist, presents alternative teaching ideas, or reviews recent developments in your research area. Please contact me or Willy Bemis with your ideas for future programs.

Message from the Secretary

Donna Wolcott

    I would like to welcome the new division secretary and keeper of the bylaws, Susie Balser (Department of Biology, Illinois Wesleyan University). I am confident that when she comes to the end of her stint, she will be glad she agreed to serve, and that the division will be glad she did, too. As with any responsibility, serving as an officer has its trying moments, as when e-mail fails at the moment the newsletter texts must be sent, etc. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the other officers, and owe a debt of gratitude — and elbow grease — to the society and division for stimulating my science and my students.

    This is an unusual year, in that we are not proposing any bylaw changes. Things could return to normal however. The current Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee Representative, Michelle Duval (Duke University), has suggested changes to the traditional position. Based on her experience, she recommends that each new representative spend one year as representative-elect, and then serve two additional years in the office. Since most graduate students have little experience with national meetings and societies, the initial year of observation would provide time to become familiar with the issues, processes and opportunities. Currently, the position is not formalized in the bylaws, and we may wish to change that. On the other hand, it is easier to change tradition than bylaws.

    Remember that the deadline for applications for the Grants-in-Aid of Research program is December 1, 1997. Grants support scientific investigation in the fields of integrative and comparative biology for graduate student members of SICB. Awards are made in amounts up to a maximum of $1,000. All applications are reviewed by the Student Support Committee at the SICB Annual Meeting. For more information on the Grants-in-Aid of Research program, fill out and send in the postcard inserted in this issue.

Student/ Postdoctoral Affairs Committee Report

Michelle Duval, DIZ
Representative to the Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee

I will be looking for a replacement since this is my last year as the Student/ Postdoctoral Affairs Committee representative for DIZ. I encourage any DIZ students and postdoctorates to contact me if they wish to know what this position entails. I would also ask that DIZ faculty members make their students aware of this position and stress that it is a great way to meet people both within and outside the society.

As for the student/postdoctoral activities in Boston, I believe that we are sticking to the same type of forum as last year; a two hour workshop in which participants are split into informal groups after a brief introduction of the main topic. The groups then discuss a subtopic for approximately 30 minutes, and participants are free to move on to a different subtopic after that time. The idea is that everyone gets to discuss/learn about three or four subtopics.

1997 Libbie H. Hyman Grant Recipient Report

Jason D. Williams

The Libbie H. Hyman Memorial Scholarship Committee unanimously selected Jason D. Williams, currently a third year graduate student at the University of Rhode Island, as the 1997 award recipient. Williams received a check for $650 to help defray the costs of his research on the morphology, systematics and ecology of spionid polychaetes at the marine laboratory of the University of San Carlos in Cebu and the Institute of Biology at the University of the Philippines. DIZ also provided him with an SICB gift membership, which includes a subscription to American Zoologist. A report of Williams' field station experience is below.

Funding through the Libbie H. Hyman Memorial Scholarship and the Lerner-Gray Fund for Marine Research allowed my field station experience in the Philippines to be a wonderful success. The Philippines contains over 7,000 islands, and the diversity of marine life found there is truly staggering. I was able to visit three provinces (Batangas, Mindoro and Cebu) where I sampled on coral reefs, eelgrass beds and limestone intertidal areas. A week's stay at the Marine Lab of San Carlos University on Mactan Island was particularly productive.

While I concentrated on collecting polychaete worms, (Polydora and related genera — Spionidae — which bore into mollusc shells and other calcareous substrates), I was also able to get an appreciation of the dominant species in each community. Nearly 200 species of corals are common in the Philippines and extensive reefs of table coral (Acropora formosa) and staghorn coral (Acropora hyacinthus) were impressive in both Puerto Galera and Cebu. I quickly found that hermit crabs hide in the branching forms of corals, typically where fingers cannot reach! In spite of this, I collected many hermits inhabiting gastropod shells, that also contained polydorids. In addition to these and other polychaetes, the hermit crab biocoenosis was composed of encrusting bryozoans, coralline algae, slipper shells, anemones, burrowing barnacles and flatworms.

Little work has been completed on the Spionidae from central Indo-Pacific areas such as the Philippines. Only one polydorid species has been described from the Philippines, although a number of faunistic surveys of polychaetes have been completed. From the hermit crabs and molluscs that I collected, four species have been provisionally identified. Each species represents a new record for the Philippines. One species constructs a shallow burrow along the inner spiral of gastropod shells, similar to that of Dipolydora commensalis. Another small species is found in burrows within the coralline algae covering the shells inhabited by hermit crabs. As many as 500 specimens were found within one shell. Typically between 20-40 percent of the hermit crabs collected contained at least one polydorid within the shell. Much work remains in the identification, description and documentation of the species collected. The next stage of my research will include preparing specimens for examination with the scanning electron microscope and the production of line drawings with camera lucida.

I thank SICB and the American Museum of Natural History for providing financial support for this research. Additionally, I would like to thank Dr. Virgilio Palpal-latoc at the National Museum of the Philippines and Dr. Filipina Sotto and Jason Young at the University of San Carlos for their help while conducting this research.

1998 Libbie H. Hyman Memorial Scholarship

Gordon Hendler, Libbie H. Hyman Memorial Scholarship Committee Chair

This scholarship, in memory of Libbie H. Hyman, one of America's foremost invertebrate zoologists, provides assistance to students to take courses or to carry out research on invertebrates at a marine, freshwater or terrestrial field station. The amount of the 1998 award is $700. The Hyman grant is intended to help support a first field station experience for a first or second year graduate student or an advanced undergraduate.

Completed applications must include:

  1. Application form
  2. Two (2) letters of recommendation from faculty members
  3. Transcripts of both undergraduate and (if applicable) graduate work

Deadline: February 20, 1998

Notification of Awards: March 20, 1998

Application forms and further information are available from:  Dr. Gordon Hendler, Chair SICB Libbie Hyman   Scholarship Committee Natural History Museum   of Los Angeles County 900 Exposition Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90007 Fax: 213/746-2999; E-mail:

Great Invertebrate Zoologists

Doc Ricketts has Gone Upstairs

Edward Flanders Ricketts died in a car-train crash in Monterey, Calif., in 1948, yet his memory lives on in the minds of all West Coast invertebrate zoologists and in the hearts and minds of fans of John Steinbeck, who are located everywhere. The Ricketts I'm talking about is the Ricketts of Between Pacific Tides and the doc is the Doc of Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday. What I will tell you in this short essay has been said many times, but I find it worth repeating.

Ricketts was born in Chicago and spent his early youth in that city. He attended college but never graduated. After World War I he ended up in California, and with a college buddy, they started Pacific Biological Laboratories, a supplier of sharks, cats, frogs and marine creatures of all sorts to high schools and colleges, primarily in the West and Midwest. Ricketts soon bought out his partner and from then until his death managed the company, or should I say, managed to eke out enough money from the company to stay semi-solvent.

Ricketts met John Steinbeck in 1930 and the two became very close friends, sharing a variety of experiences, including a trip to Baja California which resulted in a semi-scientific book, Sea of Cortez, which detailed not only their travels, but the organisms collected. After Rickett's untimely death, Steinbeck republished the narrative portion of the book in the Log from the Sea of Cortez. He began that volume with a long essay on his friend Ed Ricketts. This is not the only occasion that Steinbeck wrote about Ricketts. As mentioned above, Ricketts appears as Doc in Cannery Row (1945) and Sweet Thursday (1954) and as a variety of personages in other books that Steinbeck wrote. Whether any of these descriptions really match the real Ed Ricketts is debatable, but then again, do our own c.v.'s really describe the real us?

Although Ricketts ran his business somewhat haphazardly, he was an outstanding field biologist and the book, Between Pacific Tides, demonstrates the powers of his observations and the extent of his knowledge concerning the West Coast fauna and flora. Between Pacific Tides is arranged ecologically rather than taxonomically, an arrangement that mirrored his holistic interest in biology. He wrote the book based on a series of previously unpublished mimeographed sheets that he and his collecting buddies had put together. Jack Calvin was one of those buddies.

Calvin was a journalist, not a biologist, and his contact with the book was limited to the first edition, but like other fourth or fifth generation general biology textbooks, his name remains attached long after formal association has been lost. Ritchie Lovejoy, Calvin's brother-in-law did the illustrations for the first edition. That the book is now in its fifth edition is proof of its staying powers. One hates to get rid of past editions, as each contains something that the newer editions lack, e.g., an introductory essay by Steinbeck in the second, the reworking of the book by Joel Hedgpeth in the fourth, and the most recent version (1986), the fifth.

Between Pacific Tides was not planned to be the only book written by Ricketts. He and Steinbeck had talked about a book concerned with the flora and fauna of the Pacific Northwest and had collected on Vancouver Island. Likewise they had also talked about a more detailed book on the San Francisco Bay region. Both were never done, due to Rickett's death. How close does the Doc of Steinbeck's novels match the real Ed Ricketts? Richard Astro has considered this question and other related questions in a couple of his books. From all sources one would have to say minimally that Ed Ricketts was unique. Cannery Row appeared in 1945, the peak year of sardine harvests from the California coast, yet it depicts a time during the great depression. Doc or Ed in the novel represents a focal point of activities in that portion of Monterey associated with the canneries. Steinbeck populates the novel with a cast of individuals that most of us would probably not have associated with: madams, drunks, the down-and-out, Chinese grocery store owners, et al; yet, because at heart Steinbeck was an incipient biologist, the portrait he provides of Doc not only shows us his social side, but also Doc the biologist. Sweet Thursday, the sequel, updates the reader on what happened on Cannery Row following the end of World War II, but perhaps is more saccharine and less biological than the former novel.

Where should we put Ed Ricketts (Doc) in the pantheon of biologists? A book on Pacific coast marine organisms does not rate a Nobel Prize or even an NSF grant, yet, the readability and suitability of the book for amateurs and his appearance in Steinbeck's novels provides him with more notoriety amongst the general public than most of us will ever receive. Steinbeck notes that after the publication of Cannery Row, Doc's place of business was overcome on the weekends by tourists. If Doc were to visit Monterey today, I'm sure he would be overwhelmed by the gentrification. Elvis can return to Graceland and feel right at home, but I'm not sure that Ed can return to Cannery Row. (By the way, I think I saw Elvis the other day at the King's Soopers checkout stand. He was talking to Doc about Flora and her girls).

Contributed by Larry T. Spencer,
Natural Science Department,
Plymouth State College, Plymouth,
NH 03264; E-mail:

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