DIZ: 1997 Fall Newsleter
This Newsletter by Section
Message from the Chair
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 ," and so
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
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
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
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
"The Compleat Crustacean Biologist: A Symposium Recognizing the
Achievements of Dorothy M. Skinner" Organizers: Donald L. Mykles and Linda H.
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
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
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
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
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:
- Application form
- Two (2) letters of recommendation from faculty members
- 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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: email@example.com.