Message from the Chair
Greetings to all of you in the Division of Systematic and Evolutionary Biology! I look
forward to seeing you all - both primary and secondary affiliates - at the 1999 SICB
Annual Meeting in Denver, Jan. 6-10. Our division is cosponsoring three exciting symposia
that promise to underscore the importance of understanding the evolutionary relationships
of organisms when interpreting the origin and function of particular characters, such as
the vertebrate axis ("Function and Evolution of the Vertebrate Axis"), or
feathers ("Evolutionary Origin of Feathers"). Our third cosponsored symposium
("Evolution of Starfishes: Morphology, Molecules, Development and Paleobiology")
will surely illustrate how multiple data types clarify our understanding of starfish
relationships. At the same time, I'm guessing that the data inconsistencies will raise
some interesting questions that will take the integrative power of SICB to answer!
Increasingly, far more molecular data is being generated for use in systematics than
morphological, functional, developmental or paleontological data. Since one of our goals
is to reconstruct the evolutionary relationships of all living organisms and the large
number of characters available from molecular data will expedite this, integration of
different hierarchical levels of organismal data within an evolutionary framework has only
just begun. Our division within SICB is a perfect forum for systematists to generate and
address such questions. I envision our membership growing steadily through the years as
more and more systematists seek out an audience from which to solicit expertise in whole
organism functional and developmental biology. Integration, as well as specialization,
drives methodological and conceptual advances. DSEB can provide a lively, if not large,
forum for this.
Some newsy items: The Society of Vertebrate Paleontologists (SVP) has accepted our
invitation to meet at the 2000 SICB Annual Meeting in Atlanta (Jan. 4-8). The impressive
systematics done by SVP members will be a wonderful addition to this meeting. From the
Society of Systematic Biologists: In an effort to increase international participation in
systematics, president Vicki Funk is spearheading an effort to formalize relationships
with the Society of Australian Systematic Biologists and the Society of South African
We need more DSEB activity! I encourage you all to bring in new members, particularly
graduate and postdoctoral students. Sponsor their membership for a year or fund their trip
to a SICB meeting. Finally, pick one of your more difficult and integrative systematic
questions and organize a symposium around it. By the time you're finished, you'll be the
expert. I look forward to hearing your ideas at the Denver meeting, or by e-mail, and I
hope to help to move DSEB forward.
Message from the Program Officer
DSEB will be at the 1999 SICB Annual Meeting in Denver with oral and poster-contributed
paper sessions and as cosponsor of the following symposia:
- "Evolutionary Origin of Feathers," organized by Paul F. A. Maderson, State
University of New York and Dominique Homberger, Louisiana State University.
- "Evolution of Starfishes: Morphology, Molecules, Development and
Paleobiology," organized by Daniel Janies, American Museum of Natural History, Daniel
Blake, University of Illinois and Richard Mooi, California Academy of Sciences.
- "Function and Evolution of the Vertebrate Axis," organized by John H. Long,
Jr., Vassar College and Tom J. Koob, Shriners Hospital for Children.
The deadline for submitting symposium or workshop proposals for Atlanta (Jan. 4-8,
2000) was April 15, 1998. I am not aware of any proposals emanating from DSEB. It's now
time to start planning for Chicago (Jan. 3-7, 2001)! Symposia and workshops don't have to
be formal, high-stress endeavors. Surely there is no shortage of controversial issues for
which DSEB could host a workshop or informal symposium (e.g., not intended for
Improving SICB meetings: I have received no response to my continued request for
comments and suggestions about meeting organization (only written comments qualify). I
suppose I am to assume that everyone thinks that the meetings run just swimmingly or
people assume that program officers don't really function. However, I am happy to hear
from any of you - preferably by e-mail. See you in Denver!
Like Paula and Jon, I am excited by the symposia we are cosponsoring in Denver. These
symposia focus on interesting questions and also reveal the central role of systematics in
comparative biology. I am also intrigued by the plans to meet with the Society of
Vertebrate Paleontologists. This is one of the most productive plans I've seen to improve
our meetings. Now we just need to inspire invertebrate paleontologists to attend as well.
We also need to inspire our colleagues to attend (and present papers) in systematics
sessions. I am pleased to see one important sign of interest in DSEB: we now have 16
primary and 207 secondary members. Clearly, many members of SICB regard systematics as
basic to their research.
DSEB has fallen behind schedule for elections. We will announce candidates and provide
ballots at a future date.