DAB: 1998 Fall Newsleter
This Newsletter by Section
Message from the Chair
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.