Vol. 59, No. 4 | November 2014

Memorial Notes

(Written by Lee C. Drickamer former ABS Historian; Photo courtesy of Donald Dewsbury)

Peter R. Marler died on July 5, 2014. Peter was a founder of the Animal Behavior Society. Born in Slough, England on February 28, 1928. He received his education in the United Kingdom, including two doctoral degrees, one in botany and plant ecology at University College, University of London (1952) and a second in zoology: animal behavior at Cambridge (1954) under the mentorship of W.H. Thorpe. His professional career included positions at Jesus College, University of Cambridge, the University of California at Berkeley, Senior Research Zoologist with the New York Zoological Society, 23 years at Rockefeller University (1966-1989) and five years (1989-1994) with the University of California at Davis. At the time of his death, he held positions as Professor Emeritus at both the Rockefeller University and the University of California at Davis.

Peter was the recipient of many honors and awards. Among these were election to the U.S. National Academy of Science, Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Fellow of the Animal Behavior Society, Fellow of the American Psychological Association, Fellow of the American Ornithologists Union, and Member of the American Philosophical Society. He was elected President of the Animal Behavior Society, President of the American Society of Zoologists, and Secretary General of the International Council of Ethologists. In 1993 he received the Distinguished Animal Behaviorist Award from the ABS. He was elected as a Foreign Member of the Royal Academy (U.K.) in 2008.

Peter’s research centered on aspects of animal communication. His bibliography contains more than 270 publications over a period of seven decades. A majority of his work involved a variety of avian species, though he also published on several species of primates. His most cited works concern the discovery of dialects in birdsong, working primarily in sparrows, and studies of song development in both song and swamp sparrows. He later worked on specific calls in vervet monkeys, particularly in terms of reference to potential predators. He was a key figure in studying the notions of auditory templates and plastic song in the development and production of birdsong. A key feature of his work was studying behavioral responses to song among conspecifics. This was carried out by both observations involving natural songs and the use of playback techniques.

Peter was an outstanding figure in terms of synthesizing knowledge on topics pertaining to animal communication. Among several dozen review papers and book chapters are writings on the multi-species examination of the epigenesist of birdsong, multiple aspects of primate calls, “Animal Communication: Affect or Cognition?”, parallels and contrasts of vocal leaning in birds and primates, both the endocrine and nervous systems in relation to birdsong, the instinct to learn, and ecological and behavioral contexts for communication, with particular reference to the ontogeny of learning communication.

The 1964 publication of ‘Mechanisms of Animal Behavior” co-authored with W.J. Hamilton helped mark the onset of our discipline in zoology as well as influencing the way psychologists studied comparative and physiological psychology and the approaches used by ethologists in their studies of animal behavior. For many ABS members in now their senior years, this textbook was the first exposure to most aspects of animal behavior. In addition to that book, Marler authored or co-authored and co-edited six other volumes on topics ranging from social behavior and communication to the biology of learning, and cortical plasticity and imprinting. He co-authored papers and book chapters with more than 30 current members of the ABS.

Peter was a true giant in the field of animal behavior, producing internationally recognized scholarship, serving several professional societies in key roles, and mentoring many graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. In this latter group are many who carry on the myriad aspects of his research endeavors.

(Written by Lee C. Drickamer former ABS Historian; Photo courtesy of Donald Dewsbury)

John A. (Jack) King died on September 21, 2014 at his home in Rapid River, located in the western portion of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He is the second Founder of the Animal Behavior Society we have lost in the past three months. He was ABS President for 1969-1970. He was born June 22, 1921 at Detroit, Michigan. His entire education occurred in Michigan, including B.A. (1943), M.S. (1948), and Ph.D. (1951). His graduate studies were interrupted for service as a 2nd Lt. in the U.S. Army Air Corps where he was a B-17 pilot. He returned to Ann Arbor and completed his doctoral work on prairie dogs under the guidance of Lee R. Dice. In fact, Jack’s honeymoon, with wife Joan, was a summer (1949) spent camping while watching black-tailed prairie dogs at Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota.

His contributions on prairie dogs, involving social organization and life history traits, helped launch many studies of ground-dwelling sciurids, some of which were brought together in the 1984 volume edited by Jan Murie and Gail Michener. Jack wrote the final chapter of that volume, summarizing progress over the three decades since his initial monograph. A primary focus of his research endeavors, that extended over three decades, was the genus Peromyscus, which stimulated the 1968 volume, Biology of Peromyscus (Rodentia), which he edited. The book contained chapters on virtually all aspects of the biology of a variety of species within the genus.  He also published studies on domestic dogs and guinea pigs.

Jack King helped to advance and engage others in several key aspects and approaches to the study of animal behavior. His favorite topic was development of behavior, where his paper on using both longitudinal and cross-sectional approaches still resonates with many investigators. Another paper, on parameters relevant to the study of early experience on behavior in animals remains pertinent for those designing experimental tests of behavior development. Finally, Jack recognized the importance of combining laboratory and field studies to obtain a more complete understanding of behavior. He did this particularly for his beloved Peromyscus, including studies he carried out in retirement involving ‘mouse cities,’ which were large circular aluminum structures placed in field or forest environments where the mice had free access and he sometimes added food and checked for resident mice. Jack’s career resulted in more than 70 published papers and book chapters and included support from several federal agencies, including both the NSF and NIH.

Jack was instrumental, in the 1960s, in helping initiate the animal behavior program at Michigan State University. This cross-disciplinary effort, including zoology and psychology, received funding from the NIH and attracted several new faculty and a sizeable cadre of fine graduate students. The foci of the program were rather diverse and it never really developed a central theme, though there are still animal behavior faculty at MSU with significant research programs.

Beginning with his days at the Jackson Laboratory, in Bar Harbor, Maine, Jack was an outstanding mentor to students of all stages. After aiding the development of more than a dozen undergraduates during his time with the lab (1951-1960), Jack took a sabbatical at Edinburgh in Scotland and Munster in Germany (1960-1961). When he returned, he moved to Michigan State University where he spent the remainder of his professional career (1961-1986). During that period he mentored students completing five master’s degrees, 17 doctoral students, and at least three post-doctoral fellows. Sixteen of those students later held faculty appointments at various universities and two completed medical degrees. Three of his students have served as President of the ABS.


(Written by Melissa Shyan-Norwalt)

Sophia Yin, 48, veterinary behaviorist, diplomate, and ABS Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, author, lecturer, and trainer, passed away in Davis, California on September 28, 2014. Sophia Yin earned her veterinary degree 1993 at the University of California at Davis. She then went on to obtain a Masters degree in animal science with an emphasis in animal behavior in 2001. She authored many books including How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves and Perfect Puppy in 7 Days: How to Start Your Puppy Off Right; The Small Animal Veterinary Nerdbook; and Low Stress Handling, Restraint and Behavior Modification of Dogs and Cats. Sophia developed her own publishing company, Cattle Dog Publishing. She was an award-winning columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. She consulted with zoos and served as a behavior expert for several TV programs such as Animal Planet’s Dogs 101 and Weird, True & Freaky. She gave workshops on low-stress handling of dogs and cats around the USA and around the world. Dr. Yin also served on the Handling Guidelines Committee for the American Association of Feline Practitioners and was on the executive board of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior.

Dr. Yin was known not only for her dedication to animals, but for her kindness, generosity, and inclusive spirit to all who worked with, communicated with, and learned from her.  Her loss leaves a large hole in the hearts of the many who knew her in all the different venues she touched; veterinarians, behaviorists, trainers, students, clients, and more. She will be sorely missed.

Numerous people have commented on her sudden death including Dr. Marty Becker, who blogged that “Sophia was brilliant, passionate, and dedicated to easing the stress and fear that pets feel at the veterinary clinic or in shelters, and this is a major loss to animals. Sophia and her team were revolutionizing animal handling with her 'Stress Less' materials and teaching, and I think the greatest gift all of us could give her is to honor her memory by working doggedly to make sure her vision becomes reality." Andy Roark, DVM, posted that "It was with shock and heartache that I learned last night that Dr. Yin passed away. She was a champion for pets and for veterinary medicine. She changed the way I handle and treat patients. She made me, and countless others, better healers. The lessons she taught will not be forgotten."  Steve Dale, radio personality, IAABC certified animal behavior consultant, and author wrote that "It was an honor and pleasure to know Dr. Yin. I admired her as a presenter and communicator ... If she only knew how profound her impact was and will continue to be."


ABS Newsletter

Send general correspondence concerning the Society to Sue Bertram, [email protected]. Deadlines for materials to be included in the Newsletter are the 15th of the month preceding each issue. The next deadline is 15 January, 2015. Articles submitted by members of the Society and judged by the Secretary to be appropriate are occasionally published in the ABS newsletter. The publication of such material does not imply ABS endorsement of the opinions expressed by contributors.

Animal Behaviour

Animal Behaviour, manuscripts and editorial matters: Authors should submit manuscripts online to Elsevier’s Editorial System (http://ees.elsevier.com/anbeh/). For enquiries relating to submissions prior to acceptance, contact the Journal Manager ([email protected]). For enquiries relating to submissions after acceptance, visit Elsevier at http://www.elsevier.com/journals. For other general correspondence, contact Kris Bruner, Managing Editor, Animal Behaviour, Indiana University, 407 N. Park Ave., Bloomington, IN 47408, USA. E-mail: [email protected]. Phone: 812-935-7188.

Change of address, missing or defective issues: ABS Central Office, 2111 Chestnut Ave., Ste 145, Glenview, IL 60025, USA. Phone: 312-893-6585. Fax: 312-896-5614. E-mail: [email protected].