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DAB: 1998 Spring Newsleter

This Newsletter by Section

Message from the Chair

Steve Nowicki

As has been the case over the last several years, the DAB business meeting at the 1998 SICB Annual Meeting in Boston was an intimate gathering. And as has also been the case, our discussion centered on the relatively small size of our division. How can we increase membership in the division or participation by members at meetings? Should we try to merge with another like-minded division? What is the role of DAB in the larger context of SICB? There was a new element added to the discussion this year, one that I – that many of us – found refreshing. Sure we’re small, but what’s wrong with that? We discussed the idea of merger with another like-minded division (as we have discussed in the past), but we agreed that DAB makes a unique contribution that might be lost if we merged. What is this contribution? We agreed that it is to continue to sponsor first-rate symposia and contributed paper sessions. We also agreed that our ability to do so doesn’t seem to be compromised by our relatively small size, as evidenced by the string of important and well-received symposia we have sponsored over the last few years.

Because animal behavior is an inherently integrative discipline, it’s inevitable that SICB members with an interest in behavior will usually have an equally strong interest in other divisions. The reverse is also true. DAB symposia (and paper sessions) tend to be of broad interest to the rest of the society because there are so many areas of overlap. So, in spite of the fact that we are a small division, we have had and can continue to have a large impact on both SICB and the field of animal behavior by helping to provide a venue for emerging ideas.

Of course, we still want to increase active participation by our members! Recruiting more active participants is a continuous, ongoing project. But we do have a ready supply of fresh recruits. There are more people with a real interest in animal behavior at SICB meetings than we might guess! We need to continue to attract high-quality papers for our contributed sessions. We need to encourage more participation in meetings by student members. We need to continue to generate and support ideas for symposia. I think all of these goals will be facilitated if we can get to know each other better, especially if we can get to know SICB members who have an interest in behavior even if they don’t list animal behavior as a primary interest. To this end, we thought the DAB should sponsor a social hour at the 1999 SICB Annual Meeting in Denver that is open to anyone in the society with an interest in behavior. Perhaps we can call it the "Friends of the DAB Social." Denver will be a very good meeting to expand our connections in this way because the symposium on animal consciousness we are co-sponsoring is sure to attract a large and diverse crowd.

I would like to note some changes in our roster of officers. Tamatha Barbeau has signed on to be our student representative. We are delighted Tamatha will be part of the team and look forward to her helping us develop ideas for attracting and supporting graduate student participation! We should all say "thank you" to Brent Graves who has stepped down as our program officer. Brent served us above and beyond the call of duty and we are grateful for his efforts.

Finally, Peter Smallwood, Tamatha and I are eager to hear your ideas for symposia, or any other initiatives you think DAB should undertake. We may be small, but we move fast! Let us know what you think.

Message from the Secretary

Peter D. Smallwood

Best Student Awards!
Congratulations are in order. Christopher K. Cratsley of Tufts University won the DAB Best Student Poster Award. The title of his presentation was "Variation in the Nuptial Fifts of Photinus Ignitus Males and the Potential for Female Choice." Sabrina S. Burmeister, from the University of Texas at Austin, won the 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). These are actually two separate awards, each with its own cash prize, most often given to separate papers. In this case, the judges agreed that Sabrina’s paper was both the best oral presentation and the best example of the use of strong inference. Congratulations to Sabrina and Christopher, and thanks to all who participated.

All graduate students are encouraged to compete for these awards at the 1999 SICB Annual Meeting in Denver. To be eligible for 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 SICB meeting can be found in the SICB Annual Meeting Abstract Guidelines to be mailed soon. Check it out: SICB can usually provide for your lodging in exchange for a 1/2 day of help (e.g., running the slide projector for an afternoon).

As Steve mentioned earlier, Brent Grave’s term as program officer has expired. He has served many years and has stepped down, though he continues to be active in SICB. Steve’s term as chair has also expired, but he has agreed to run for one more term to provide for continuity within our division. Both candidates are running unopposed. PLEASE VOTE, even in uncontested elections, we need to see your support for the officers.

Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee Report

Tamatha Barbeau, DAB Representative to the Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee

Greetings to all SICB members! My name is Tamatha Barbeau and I was recently selected by the Division of Animal Behavior to be the representative on the Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee. I am a first year graduate student in the Department of Zoology at the University of Florida.

Currently, for my master’s research, I am conducting a comparative behavioral study on seven species of native Florida hylid frogs. The primary aim of this study is to document the presence and patterns of body wiping behavior exhibited by hylid frogs. Secondarily, I am examining secretions from cutaneous glands in these species, looking for the presence of lipids which may have an adaptive role in reducing cutaneous water loss. In this study, I will also investigate any correlation between the presence of these behaviors and specific rates of cutaneous evaporative water loss, as well as the geographic distribution of these species within Florida. Preliminary results of this study were presented at the most recent 1998 SICB Annual Meeting in Boston (American Zoologist v.37, No.5: Pp 34-A, abstract 120).

I look forward to working with DAB and welcome any input from other representatives or SICB members regarding future symposia and divisional matters.

DAB Candidates for Election

Candidate for Chair

Stephen Nowicki

Current Position: Associate Professor of Zoology, Neurobiology and Experimental Psychology, Duke University.

Education: B.S., Tufts University, 1976; M.S., Tufts University, 1979; Ph.D., Cornell University, 1985.

Professional Experience: Postdoctoral Fellow, 1984-86, Assistant Professor, 1986-89, Rockefeller University; Assistant Professor of Zoology, 1989-94, Associate Professor of Zoology, Neurobiology and Psychology, 1994 - present, Duke University.

SICB Activities: Chair, Division of Animal Behavior, 1996-98; Graduate Student Grants-in-Aid Review Committee, 1996-98.

Other Memberships: Animal Behavior Society, Fellow, 1998; Member, Psychobiology, Behavior and Neuroscience Review Committee, NIMH,1994-98; Acoustical Society of America, Bioacoustics Technical Advisory Group, 1992-present; American Ornithologist’s Union; Cooper Ornithological Society; Highlands Biological Foundation, Trustee, 1993-present; International Society for Neuroethology; Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory; Society for Neuroscience.

Research Interests: I study the structure, function and evolution of animal communication systems. I am especially interested in the interface between physiology, development and evolution. My current research includes work on the functional morphology of signal production, motor constraints on signal evolution, sexual selection and the evolution of signal complexity. I work primarily on birds, but my students’ projects include comparative studies of communication in other taxa such as crustaceans, lizards and primates.

Goals Statement: The Division of Animal Behavior, although it is a relatively small division in SICB, has a long history as a venue for animal behavior research and continues to be an important outlet for many of us who study behavior. I will continue to work to make the DAB a springboard for innovative symposia that build on integrative approaches to the study of behavior. I will also work to provide support and other opportunities for student members of DAB.

Candidate for Program Officer

Peggy S. M. Hill

Current Position: Assistant Professor of Biological Science, University of Tulsa.

Education: B.S. in Education, University of Tulsa, 1975; B.S. in Natural Sciences, University of Tulsa, 1977; Ph.D. in Zoology, University of Oklahoma, 1996.

Professional Experience: Assistant Professor of Biological Science, and member of the Native American Studies Program, 1996-present, Instructor of Biological Science, 1987-96, University of Tulsa; Classroom Teacher, 1977-87, Booker T. Washington High School, Tulsa, Okla.

SICB Activities: Member since 1990; DAB Best Paper Award Committee and paper session co-chair, 1997, 1998. Other Memberships: Animal Behavior Society, International Society of Behavioral Ecologists, Sigma Xi, Society for Conservation Biology.

Research Interests: I have been working with animal behavior in both honeybees (foraging ecology) and prairie mole crickets (acoustic communication), and my major long-term interest is in how animals use sensory cues to make choices in resource acquisition (foraging or reproduction).

Goals Statement: My general goal as an SICB member is to help to promote the society as a leader in bringing focus to issues in integrative and comparative biology through our annual symposia. My parallel goals continue to include encouraging the participation of minorities and women in the work of SICB.

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