Vol. 63, No. 1 | March 2018

Special Awards

ABS Outreach Grant 2017-2018 Recipients


Giridhar Malla: An initiative to create awareness about behaviour and conservation of a globally threatened small cat among the kids of a fishing community in India

Fishing cats are one of the most elusive small cat species in the world and are also highly threatened due to habitat destruction. To improve conservation of these small cat species, I believe the easiest way to achieve is by targeting the children of the local fishing community who are not just highly receptive but also can become good ambassadors for their community in future. Owing to factors such as poverty and poor school infrastructure these children do not even get proper education and so have very less opportunities to learn about wildlife conservation or animal behaviour. Therefore, our target will be to disseminate information on behaviour and conservation of Fishing cats by raising awareness and educating about its global importance, behaviour, and its mangrove habitats to the small children of the local fishing community living around mangrove forests of Godavari Delta.

With the help of the ABS Outreach Grant I would like to design a comic book about the relationship between a local kid and a fishing cat. Ecology of Fishing Cats in a mangrove forest and different aspects of its behaviour such as its hunting technique of fishes, effects of tides on their activity in the mangroves, communication between each other (vocal calls) etc. will be highlighted in the comic book, making it interesting and easier for the local kids to understand. Comic books are an excellent and easy way to disseminate information about behaviour and conservation actions of such elusive species to the kids. Through this method, we hope to raise awareness and develop a sense of ownership among the local kids of a globally important species that lives just behind their backyards.


Sue Margulis and Tiffany Vanderwerf: Encouraging Animal Behavior Studies in Science Fairs

For anyone who has participated in, or served as a judge at a Science Fair, one branch of science is often conspicuously absent: animal behavior. Why?
Animal behavior is approachable to most students, generally involves little if any expense on the part of a student, and promotes original research. Unfortunately, many teachers actively discourage such endeavors based on misconceptions about the issues associated with “use of vertebrates”. As members of the education committee recently noted (Braude, Margulis, & Broder, 2017), purely observational studies do not require review or approval and thus the only obstacles to increasing the visibility and presence of animal behavior studies in Science Fair is educating teachers on both the (absence of) permission requirements, and familiarity with methods.

The Outreach Grant for the Education Committee of the Animal Behavior Society will permit me to run a 1.5-day summer workshop in collaboration with the Buffalo Zoo for teachers on the basic methods of animal behavior. The aim will be to better prepare teachers to mentor students interested in conducting behavioral research studies for Science Fair. Follow-up in the fall with these teachers will pair students and teachers with undergraduates majoring in animal behavior to provide additional mentoring and support as they facilitate student research projects. With the support of the Buffalo Zoo, and the Western New York Science Fair, I hope to see 10 animal behavior-focused projects at the 2019 Science Fair. Projects in animal behavior often represent original science in ways that “cookbook” science fair projects rarely do.


Ted Stankowich: The Science of Wildlife Conservation and Pet Safety, a Community Outreach Study

The future of wildlife conservation rests on the hands of students; but it is up to the scientists of today to create opportunities to help them succeed in the sciences. Led by Dr. Ted Stankowich, the California State University Long Beach (CSULB) Mammal Lab has partnered with the CSULB Science Learning Center (SLC) to provide such an opportunity. With the support of the Education Committee of Animal Behavior Society, we are working alongside K-12 students to address questions of wildlife conservation and pet safety. Student will be given the tools and skills to help disseminate our survey campaign that asks residents to report data on their previously owned dogs’ and cats’ experiences with coyotes, including the size, color pattern, amount of time spent outdoors, and interactions with coyotes and other wild predators. The results of this survey will help us determine what factors of pet coloration and behavior expose them to greater risk of predation by urban carnivores. The study is designed to teach students about the scientific method and the interactions that occur between predators and prey, emphasizing wildlife and conservation biology, ecology, and human impacts. Follow our progress on Twitter at @CSULBMammalLab, Facebook at “StankowichLab”, and our website http://web.csulb.edu/~tstankow/


Brooke Woelber: Science Friday!

Science Friday serves as an opportunity for 7th grade middle-school students to engage in inquiry-based learning as part of their science curriculum. During this program, the scientific method will be emphasized as students serve as lead scientists who are responsible for the development of their own research experiments. Students will conduct 3 separate research experiments that occur for a period of 6 weeks each. Research experiments will include models for basic ecological concepts as follows: nutrient cycling (Winogradsky Column), biodiversity (bacterial cultures) and parental care (the burying beetle).  Follow the students’ progress on the Science Friday Blog: dmsScienceFriday.wordpress.com


AIBS Congressional Visits Day Award


This year, the Animal Behavior Society introduced a new award to fund one graduate student or postdoc member to attend the American Institute of Biological Sciences Congressional Visits Day in Washington, DC. During this event, AIBS presents an advocacy-training program that provides the information required to effectively advocate for their science, and organizes meetings for scientists and their elected officials in Congress. This year's recipient is Matthew Baker, a graduate student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Baker is interested in the intersection between science and public policy, and looks forward to the opportunity to participate in the legislative process.


ABS Grants in Aid for Puerto Rican Animal Behavior Projects


The members-at-large reviewed the Puerto Rico grant applications, assessing suitability of the application (whether or not the work included animal behavior), quality of the research proposed, and explanation of need.  Given the available funds, we were able to fund 11 grants, and thanks to generous support from the Society and additional donors, the funding level was raised to $730, instead of our initial target of $500.  Thank you to all who contributed!


ABS Newsletter

Send general correspondence concerning the Society to Patricia Brennan, secretary@animalbehaviorsociety.org. Deadlines for materials to be included in the Newsletter are the 15th of the month preceding each issue. The next deadline is April 15, 2018. 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 (yanbe@elsevier.com). 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: krbruner@indiana.edu.
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