Animal Behavior Society
Working towards a better understanding of animal behavior
Countdown to Anchorage


Alison Bell
University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign
Insights into plasticity and individual differences in behavior from stickleback genomic data.

Summary: Over the past 10+ years, genomics has been alternately heralded, hyped and dismissed. Until recently there has not been a sufficient number of studies using genomic tools to address important questions in animal behavior to allow us to assess whether genomics has lived up to its promise. In this talk, I will use examples from studies of behavior in sticklebacks to illustrate the opportunities and challenges associated with applying genomic tools (especially genome-wide expression) to the study of animal behavior.  In particular, I will highlight insights we have gained into the causes of individual differences in behavior and limited plasticity from measuring brain gene expression. Some of the main findings include: (1) pleiotropy is rampant; (2) the molecular correlates of individual variation can be different from the molecular correlates of plasticity; (3) the way fathers behave toward their offspring can be an important source of epigenetic variation with consequences for offspring.

Bennett Galef
McMaster University
ABS Distinguished Animal Behaviorist

Social influences on food choice: behavior, neuroscience and molecular biology.

Summary: What has kept me interested in the social transmission of food preference (STFP) for more than 40 years is how accommodating the phenomenon has become to different levels of analysis. I plan to describe some of the many behavioral sensory, physiological and molecular studies of STFP carried out both in my laboratory and those of many others in response to three of Tinbergen's four questions about behavior.

Susan Alberts
Duke University
Advantage and adversity: the influence of social environments on fitness in social mammals.

Summary: How does an organism's social and ecological environment affect its fertility and survival? These are major questions that cross the disciplines of animal behavior, biodemography, and medicine. To gain insight into these questions, we are taking advantage of longitudinal data from a well-studied wild primate population, the baboons of the Amboseli basin in southern Kenya. This population, one of the best-studied wild mammal populations in the world, has been under continuous observation since 1971, and represents a robust natural population that experiences extensive natural variation in the social and ecological environment. We have investigated the effects of early life adversity (both social adversity and ecological adversity) on fertility and survival, and we have also investigated the effects of the adult social and ecological environment on fertility and survival. Our data indicate that early adversity carries lifelong costs for both fertility and survival in these primates, and that the adult environment offers some opportunities for these costs to be mitigated.

Regina Macedo
University of Brasilia
ABS President
Animal behavior: Time travel through science.

Summary: The role of science in today´s world cannot be emphasized strongly enough. In a planet where societies effectively exist in different time periods, conflict seems unavoidable. In this talk, I will explore how research, specifically that developed by us as behaviorists and members of ABS, has contributed toward accelerating global progress in science. These efforts can effectively decrease the knowledge and cultural gaps and lead to greater understanding and development.

Steven Swartz
Laguna San Ignacio Ecosystem Science Program
The Behavior and Conservation of Breeding Gray whales in Laguna San Ignacio: A Forty Year Perspective.

Summary: Each winter North Pacific gray whales migrate south along the coast of North America from their summer feeding range in the North Pacific, Bering, and Arctic to their winter breeding range along the Pacific Coast of Baja California, Mexico. Bahia Ballenas and Laguna San Ignacio is one of three major winter aggregation areas where adult grays breed and give birth to their calves. Systematic studies of the use of this lagoon by gray whales began in 1977, and have continued to the present to document the abundance, distribution, calving rate, and behavior of the gray whales that occupy the lagoon each winter. During this time the gray whale population has fluctuated, presumably in response to environmental factors, and these changes have been reflected in the number of whales utilizing Laguna San Ignacio. The lagoon lies within Mexico’s Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve and, as a managed marine protected area, it has become a focus of whale-watching eco-tourism in Mexico, and for the whales' "curiosity" with whale-watchers. I will discuss the history of the gray whale’s use and the conservation of Laguna San Ignacio over the past four decades, the breeding behavior of the whales, and their relationship with the eco-tourism community that operates within the lagoon.



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