What happens when ecological morphology joins up with conservation & management? S9 in Austin wants to tell you…

S9: Applied Functional Biology: Linking Ecological Morphology to Conservation and Management           

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Day: Monday, Jan. 6, 07:45 a.m. Austin , Texas
Room: Brazos

Chairs: Lance McBrayer, Eric McElroy, Diego Sustaita


Attend any SICB meeting and you will see how technology has revolutionized the study of morphological analysis. DiceCT, XROMM, and geometric morphometrics, to name a few, have provided 3D windows to internal anatomy, access to joint motion, and a rigorous framework for examining complex forms. Likewise, the discipline of “ecomorphology” (i.e., using morphology to explain and predict ecological patterns) has become formalized into a hypothetico-deductive framework that elucidates causative roles of morphological traits in organismal ecology. Yet, these (and other) advances in our ability to study and understand organisms has occurred during a time of catastrophic loss of biological diversity and ecological change.  Given this, we have organized a symposium to show SICB members examples of productive collaborations between us (basic scientists) and land resource managers or conservationists, so that our research might help be part of the solution to the challenges the organisms we love face today.

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This symposium is the result of a roundtable discussion held after a previous symposium: “Vertebrate Ecomorphology: Past, Present and Future” at ICVM-11 in 2016.  At SICB 2020, we have asked contributors to extend this earlier discussion with examples and strategies on how fellow SICB members might find common ground to work with natural resource managers and conservationists.  We argue that organismal biologists (be they morphologists, physiologists, behaviorists, ecologists, etc.) study how important elements of the phenotype are not only relevant to the organism, but also may scale up to shape population and community level phenomena.  How variation in organismal properties scales up to the population and community level may have direct, or indirect, implications and applications for wildlife conservation and management. This is because wildlife management and conservation efforts must focus their attention on population- and community-level dynamics levels because their specific mandate is often related to the survival or health of a species of interest. Additionally, many organismal biologists are increasingly interested in how the environment impacts morphological and functional variation.  How this environmental context effects individual’s ability to survive and reproduce is likely most appealing to resource managers.

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We also hope to point out that conservation and management efforts could benefit from a more rigorous examination of organismal traits that dictate fitness at the individual level. A similar missive has been issued in the disciplines of animal behavior and behavioral ecology, where researchers have (Angeloni et al. 2008), and continue to express practical interests in, contributing to conservation (Bro-Jørgensen et al. 2019; Caro & Berger 2019).  Here we extend these efforts by focusing on underlying morphological and performance traits that influence organismal behavior and ecology.  Attendees will see some great science, along with novel ideas on how to contribute to, and collaborate with, management and conservation minded scientists alike.


s1 – Covering new territory in marine biology


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It was only a little over 200 years ago that James Cook penetrated the pack ice and established that if there was an antarctic land mass at all, it was surrounded by a frozen sea.  In 1820, members of British, Russian, and American expeditions all might have been among the first people to see the antarctic shore.  Since that time this immense continent and its surrounding islands have captured the imagination and curiosity of scientists and laypersons alike.  Exploratory expeditions during the 1820’s led by the American and British sealers Nathaniel Palmer and James Weddell revealed a continent whose coasts teemed with marine life, including vast numbers of seals, penguins, and whales.  Observations on the nature of antarctic marine life continued during the expeditions of Durmont d’Urville (France, 1837-1840), Charles Wilkes (United States, 1838-1841), and James Ross Clark (United Kingdom, 1839-1943).  The Challenger Expedition (1872-1876), whose scientific staff was led by Sir Charles Wyville Thomson, contributed vast amounts of information on the morphology, taxonomy, and geographic distribution of antarctic benthic and pelagic marine organisms, setting the stage for some of the paradigms that remain with us today.

     The birth of antarctic marine biology, however, probably should be placed with Robert Scott’s British National Antarctic Expedition to McMurdo Sound in 1901-1904.  During that expedition a small group of workers, faced with horrendous conditions, managed to collect specimens year-round.  A large proportion of the antarctic marine biota today is based on that material.  In the early part of the twentieth century the land-based expeditions led by Shackleton, Borshgrevink, Bruce, Mawson, Charcot, De Gerlache, and Nordenskjold made further observations on the coastal marine life (Walton, 1987).  The first long-term study of antarctic pelagic ecosystems was conducted during the British Discovery expeditions between 1925 and 1939.  The resulting “Discovery Reports” contain extensive published information on both fauna and flora of Antarctica.  Modern marine biological studies in the antarctic began in 1958-1959 during the International Geophysical Year.  During the past 60 years, marine biological studies have increased enormously in importance and scope, and now they are major components of research efforts by many nations in Antarctica.

     Past and contemporary studies of antarctic marine biology reveal a rich and varied marine biota, in many respects without any temperate or tropical counterpart.  The antarctic marine environment is characterized by constant, with low water temperatures (generally -1.8 oC), yet marked seasonal patterns of pack-ice movement and photoperiod.  The offshore biotic system is fueled by upwelled, nutrient-rich, deep circumpolar waters, which support rich primary production during the antarctic austral summer.  Although antarctic marine biology is a relatively young science, research has gone far beyond descriptions of plants and animals found in antarctic waters.  More fundamental aspects of how these biotas live and interact have been studied.  In particular, attention has been paid to processes that allow this environment to be part of our biosphere.  These processes then can be compared in more general terms to living processes in other regions of the globe.  Dynamics of production, reproduction, and ecological stability and interaction have been well developed in the past three decades.  Indeed, in some ways we know more about the remote antarctic environment today that we do about more familiar environments closer to home. Importantly, the ecological impacts of the dramatic climate changes underway in western Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula have greatly elevated the significance of the interrelationships introduced above.

The unique marine environment of Antarctica provides an exciting opportunity to showcase a broadly based symposium on aspects of the biology of its rich and diverse marine life.  Not only are the topics in this symposium timely and presented by leaders in the field, but they encompass cutting edge science, novel techniques, and future directions.  Topical areas include, among others, the recent dramatic ecological impacts of climate changes across multiple trophic levels in Antarctic seas, advances in molecular and physiological aspects of cold adaptation in marine algae, invertebrates and fish, the role of chemical ecology in structuring nearshore macroalgal-mesograzer interactions in structuring communities of the Antarctic Peninsula, revising phylogeographic patterns in Antarctica in the age of ‘omics,’ and advances in the use of biogeochemical markers to track diets and movement of Antarctic marine predators.  The presentations are of relevance to fellow biologists including undergraduate and graduate students, post-docs, and research faculty working in temperate and tropical marine environments, as well as polar marine environments.  We have proven historical evidence of such broad interest based on three previous symposia on Antarctic marine biology we organized and hosted in 1988 (McClintock and Pearse), 2000 (McClintock, Amsler and Baker), and 2010 (McClintock, Amsler, Baker, Moran, Woods).  Of course we encourage everyone to attend.  But if you cannot make it to the entire symposium, feel free to drop by for the talks that especially compel!


to be presented January 4th at SICB Austin http://sicb.org/meetings/2020/symposia/antarctic.php

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One of the organizers -James McClintock     @JiminAntarctica


s6 -A synthesis of research in animal aeroacoustics

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This year in Austin on January 5th join our speakers for symposia 6 in exploring :
 Bio-inspiration of silent flight of owls and other flying animals: recent advances and unanswered questions
When organizers Chris Clark and Justin Jaworski were asked to share a bit about their symposia and it’s incarnation they had this to say: 
“I decided to organize this symposium for a couple reasons.  First, there has been an uptick in papers on how owls fly silently.  Dr. Herman Wagner’s research group at Aachen University has recently published several papers about silent flight in owls, including a recent review. Similarly, Dr. Ennes Sarradj’s research group (now at TU Berlin) has published several recent papers, as has Dr. Hao Liu’s research group at Chiba University in Japan, (such as this one), and Dr. Roi Gerka’s research group at Coastal Carolina University, and Dr. Justin Jaworski at Lehigh. Since this seemed to be a research area now receiving a lot of attention, a symposium to get together and summarize what we’ve learned recently seemed highly appropriate.  Most of these people are engineers (Dr. Wagner is a neurobiologist) and I have never met any of them. SICB already has lots of physicists and engineers that attend, making SICB the obvious venue.
Second, I’m a biologist and I’ve spent the past 10 years studying how animals make communication sounds with their wings and tails— that is, how birds make extra sound, on purpose, with their wings.  So while I have not studied silent flight previously, I’ve spent a a lot of time reading about aeroacoustics and thinking about how and why animal wings make sound.
I noticed that a lot of the papers about silent flight didn’t have much biology in them, and they often made dubious biological claims, such as that owls are unique and the ‘only bird to evolve silent flight’. Had anyone actually looked to see if other birds were similar? After all, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. I spent a lot of time reading, and was occasionally rewarded with brief 1-sentence mentions of other birds with silent flight  (Peeters 2007 pg 36). Turns out, Owls are not unique: Nightbirds (Caprimulgiformes) also have convergently evolved silent flight, as have certain hawks such as Harriers. Come to my talk at  1:30 on Jan 5 in Lone Star H to learn about yet another mysterious group of birds with silent flight (this mysterious group is a new result, so they’re not mentioned in my abstract).
I also figured out that some of the received wisdom about how owls fly silently is also unlikely (or at least, the received wisdom is not the whole story). For instance, the current literature implies that the velvet coating on owl feathers reduces sound through an aerodynamic effect. But despite being widely assumed, there’s no actual evidence of this hypothesis, and there’s another hypothesis the recent literature has ignored. It was a conversation with feather anatomist Teresa Feo at SICB 3 years ago, that led me to this one: Teresa mentioned that feather anatomy books (such as the legendary Lucas and Stettenheim 1972) say the velvet is to reduce rubbing (frictional) sounds of feathers rubbing on feathers. She’ll present a poster the night of the symposium that reveals more of the anatomy, and graduate student Krista Le Piane will present in her talk in the symposium her data that also supports this frictional noise hypothesis. In short, biology does have something to offer to this question of how do owls fly silently.
The part of the symposium that I must admit I am completely ignorant about is bioinspiration. Wind turbines and trains are said to have benefited from owl-based bioinspiration. Is there more can we learn from owls?  I have no idea!  I put the word ‘bioinspiration’ in the title of the symposium since it’s a buzzword. “Bioinspiration” seems to be the primary interest of the engineers who have flocked to this research topic; after all, they’re not trying to understand how owls fly silently in order to better understand owl evolution or owl ecology. When I read aeroacoustics papers I don’t always follow all of the math or other ideas presented. So, I’ll be looking forward to further discussing with other symposium participants, such as my co-organizer, Justin Jaworski, what aeroacoustics questions are unanswered and how Owls, Nightbirds, Harriers, and the like may contribute.”
-Chris Clark
UC Riverside
and co-organizer Justin Jaworski had this to add: 
“Engineering design seeks to make machines simpler, more effective, and more efficient. Noise (and its perception) continues to be a source of societal annoyance and a regulatory barrier for common machines (e.g., aircraft and wind turbines) and emerging markets (e.g., air taxis and urban air mobility). Where can we look for radical inspiration to address aggressive goals on both machine performance and noise reductions? Engineers have traditionally looked to the world around them for natural solutions, which are then studied to better understand the central physical principles that can enable improvements relevant to the device of interest. For example, all aerodynamicists have been awed by the flight of birds, but their thin wing profiles are not ideal for the design of low-speed, fixed-wing aircraft and certainly do not anticipate the appropriate wing shapes for supersonic jets!
In a similar vein, the aeroacoustics community has long sought to understand how its “spirit animal,” the owl, flies silently, in hopes that a new, non-standard route for aerodynamic noise reduction can be identified and exploited. With the increased activity in this area on the biology side, this symposium is timely to bring together researchers with different perspectives of the owl noise problem to (i) identify collectively which parts of the problem (such as known mechanisms of noise generation) are confirmed science and which parts have knowledge gaps; and (ii) to reinforce or redirect research avenues when cooperative efforts can lead to the greatest insights for both the biology and aeroacoustics communities.
It is a pleasure to be involved with this symposium, and I thank Dr Chris Clark at UC Riverside for the opportunity to co-organize. I look forward to new ideas that will germinate from our discussions and to learning more about non-owl species that may also fly quietly. “
– Justin Jaworski
Lehigh University

s4 SICB Austin- Why reproduction shouldn’t take a backseat….

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This symposia will be presented on January 5th, 2020 in Austin at SICB’s annual conference. See sicb.org 

Reproduction from the Female Perspective

               What is the female perspective and why is that perspective important?

Although commonly considered passive players, female animals possess extraordinary control over their reproduction using diverse mechanisms.  They regulate major aspects of mating and conception as well as offspring survival, growth, and development.  Yet, historically, the female perspective has been given short shrift.  Why?

Nearly 150 years ago, in 1875, Antoinette Brown Blackwell suggested an answer “The older physiologists not only studied nature from the male standpoint—as, indeed, they must chiefly, being generally men—but they interpreted facts by the accepted theory that the male is the representative type of the species—the female a modification preordained in the interest of reproduction” (Blackwell, 1875:16-17).  For example, anatomical features that occur in both sexes may be given male names, for example the embryonic genital tubercle is also referred to as a primordial phallus.  Even adult female structures may be given male names, such as the enlarged clitoris (aka “pseudopenis”) of female hyenas.  Unfortunately, contemporary terminology is not exempt from bias.  As recently as 2011, a textbook on behavioral endocrinology used male traits to define female behaviors.  But not just the naming of features or concepts has a historical bias but also the development of concepts and theories.  This historical bias underlies our understanding of reproductive physiology, and, in fact, of physiology in general.

Reproduction is the mainstay of natural selection.  Females with the most progeny shape the next generation.  Survival as a metric of natural selection is only important if reproduction ensues.  Consequently, reproduction is primary for natural selection.

In the context of natural and sexual selection all physiological systems exist so that reproduction can successfully occur.  Survival and adaptation to environmental change are irrelevant if no progeny are produced by those genetic modifications.  Thus, anatomical, physiological, and behavioral systems have been molded by the constraints of reproduction.  Yet, by focusing on males or non-reproductive females, most anatomical and physiological studies treat reproduction as secondary to all other bodily processes.  In mammals and many other organisms, much of the energetic, nutritional, and temporal investment in reproduction is by females. Thus, to more fully understand physiological processes we must more thoroughly understand the biology of reproductive females and improve how researchers take female reproduction into consideration.

A major difference between reproduction and other systems, e.g. respiration, is that reproduction requires the interaction of at least 2 individuals (females with males and/or progeny).  Females are nearly always the highly investing sex (energy, time, resources) and thereby key for these interactions.  Furthermore, physiological functions must be molded to the needs of reproduction, especially of females as the heavily investing sex.  By understanding female biology we can better understand the major evolutionary drivers for anatomical, physiological, behavioral, and phylogenetic changes in both sexes.

For this reason, ignoring the reproductive state of a female when studying respiration, digestion, metabolism, or circulation (etc.) severely limits the depth of understanding how these systems are integrated into female lives and work together. Interestingly enough, not just scientists but also physicians often treat reproduction as secondary to other bodily processes.  The NIH did not include women in clinical trials until 1993 and only mandated that females were included in pre-clinical trials in 2016.  Female biology is key not only to reproductive medicine but also to evolutionary adaptations.

This symposium will expand our understanding of reproduction by using a female-centric perspective.  The symposium will investigate the theoretical and practical ways in which focusing on female biology can alter our understanding of functional morphology, physiological mechanisms, and behavioral patterns.  This is key because historically the field has been largely focused on a male-active/female-inactive paradigm (ex. sperm as driving “fertilization” by swimming to the “egg” in an inert female reproductive tract).  Together with the complementary sessions, the symposium will generate new ideas, prospects for future research, and collaborations across divergent taxa and fields.  Our symposium asks: how do our findings change when we investigate reproduction from the female-focused perspective?  What important advances can we make when we challenge ourselves to develop a more neutral perspective as we question terminologies and assumptions about sex-roles?  Our speakers will present research ranging across diverse areas of study and taxonomic focus but with these common themes.  Organizers will use the venue, especially a terminal round-table discussion, to gather information for a published commentary on future research directives and mechanisms to achieve them.

This symposium will bring together scientists who are at different career stages, focus on different fields, and normally attend different meetings.  The interactions of these individuals will allow discussion and collaboration across divergent research areas of female biology and across taxonomic groups.  As 100% of the speakers will be women from various career stages, this symposium will contribute to increasing the profiles of women in STEM and will provide unprecedented networking opportunities. 

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Throughout 2019, the female perspective has made headlines from publications in Science and Nature to The Guardian and The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.  Even the mainstream New York Times and Washington Post have featured the issue from varied outlooks.  A few examples follow:



Are hormones a “female problem” for animal research?

Link: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/364/6443/825



Sex and gender bias in the experimental neurosciences: the case of the maternal immune activation model

[Link: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41398-019-0423-8]


The Guardian

Why sexist bias in natural history museums really matters

[link: https://www.theguardian.com/science/shortcuts/2019/oct/23/bad-science-sexist-bias-natural-history-museums-specimens?CMP=share_btn_link


Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology

The Forgotten Female: How a Generation of Women Scientists Changed Our View of Evolution

[Link: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/the-forgotten-female-how-a-generation-of-women-scientists-changed-our-view-of-evolution/]


NY Times

Fighting the Gender Stereotypes That Warp Biomedical Research

[Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/30/health/gender-stereotypes-research.html]


Washington Post

How gendered language leads scientists astray

[Link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/06/10/how-gendered-language-leads-scientists-astray/]


this post was sent in by one of the organizers of s4, Teri Orr
follow her via @Teri_J_Orr
uploaded by SICB Journals Managing Editor, Suzanne Miller (icbjournals@sicb.org)



S8 Limbless animals varied locomotor modes & s3 teeth – a uniting force across several biologies

s8 Long Limbless Locomotors Over Land: The mechanics and biology of elongate, limbless vertebrate locomotion

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(this symposia is to be presented January 6th, 2020 in Austin. See sicb.org – Austin symposia schedule for a full list of speakers) 

What was the motivation to put together this symposia?

Limbless locomotion, particularly terrestrial limbless locomotion, has been chronically understudied for a long time.  Terrestrial limbless species are thought by some to be so unusual or different that insights into their locomotion will provide little broader insight into locomotion, but this is far from the truth.  Elongate limbless body plans are widespread in nature and frequently converged upon, with over a dozen independent convergences on functional limblessness in lizards alone.  Indeed, the combined number of species of snakes (almost 3700 species) and of limbless squamates and amphibians is similar to the total number of non-flying mammals!

Despite their lack of legs, these animals move effectively through a wide range of habitats, and have a particular advantage in cluttered or confined environments such as dense vegetation, rocky terrain, narrow tunnels, and burrowing.  While limbed animals must slow down as terrain increases in spatial complexity, limbless animals encountering increasing obstacle density can typically move faster.  Furthermore, limbless animals often employ a variety of different locomotor modes specifically tuned to particular environmental challenges, such as concertina locomotion to move within narrow tunnels or sidewinding to cross desert sands.

Limbless locomotion has elicited interest from a wide range of disciplines.  Evolutionary biologists and paleontologists seek to determine how limbless morphologies evolve across species, what selective forces lead to limblessness, and whether these evolutionary mechanisms are predictable and repeatable.  Biomechanists examine the motions, forces, and muscular control of the diverse modes of limbless locomotion, seeking to understand the benefits, drawbacks, mechanisms, control and evolution of these behaviors.  And roboticists seek to create bio-inspired “snakebots” which can harness the effectiveness of limbless locomotion for traversing cluttered terrains and confined spaces.

Interest in this field has been steadily growing since Mosauer’s Science paper in 1932, but in recent years the pace of publication has accelerated significantly.  Increasingly powerful tools and technology enable more detailed examinations of limbless biomechanics, and a combination of fossil discoveries and improved phylogenies have shed increasing light on the origins and evolution of limblessness, as well as the high frequency of convergence.  Advances in actuators and control are increasing the capability of “snakebots” to solve real-world problems (e.g. search & rescue), while biological data has proven to be a potent inspiration for improvements in snakebot control.  Conversely, increasingly capable robots are becoming a model for testing form-behavior-function relationships in biology.

What is the purpose of the symposium?

While interest in limbless locomotion is increasing and collaborative work across disciplines has yielded novel insights, many topics of interest remain poorly understood or wholly unknown and researchers from disparate fields often work in isolation.  The goal of this symposium is to identify major gaps in current knowledge and methods, to promote links between researchers across different fields within and beyond biology, and to coordinate efforts to move the field as a whole forward.  To achieve this, we have brought together faculty from a range of backgrounds to present a rich assortment of talks and to spur future collaboration and innovation. By fostering cross-disciplinary research at this crucial stage, we can accelerate the development of all fields involved.

What future directions are you most excited about?

One of the most exciting developments in their field is how improvements in instruments, measurements, and robotics can all feed into each other to allow deeper understanding.  New phylogenies which use molecular data and new techniques to resolve previously obscure relations provide us with deep insights into the evolution of these species.  New instruments such as X-ray Reconstruction of Moving Morphology and contrast-enhanced CT scanning allow us to capture data which was previously invisible.  Robotic models can explore the consequences of alternative behaviors and morphologies either not seen in biological systems or only present in extinct species.  Even in isolation, these can be tremendously beneficial, but when used in combination via interdisciplinary collaborations, they can result in tremendous leaps in understanding.


s3 Symposia in focus: Biology at the Cusp: Teeth as a Model Phenotype for Integrating Developmental Genomics, Biomechanics, and Ecology

organized by Gareth J. Fraser and C. Darrin Hulsey

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(this symposia is to be presented January 4th, 2020 in Austin. See sicb.org – Austin symposia schedule for a full list of speakers) 

What was the motivation to organize this symposia?

The tooth as a model organ unites several fields of biology and therefore advances in the fields of tooth development, genomics, and functional ecology have been reflected in a recent surge of tooth-related research. We therefore decided that this would be a great time to showcase the diverse yet integrative biologies that use the tooth as a character for study. SICB, at its core, is a highly integrative international conference, and this therefore is an ideal venue for this particular symposium. We aimed to collect a diverse selection of the leading researchers in the field of tooth biology at a wide variety of career levels, with each participant bringing a unique approach to the study of teeth, either directly or indirectly. The focus of our symposium was to promote the exciting new developments in comparative and integrative tooth biology. This new wave of tooth biology has materialized in large part through the creative minds of early career scientists that bring a fresh assortment of tools to target important questions in the wider science of dental biology. Teeth are a vertebrate innovation and as a character unite the vertebrate clade from fishes to mammals. In addition, throughout the evolutionary history of vertebrates, teeth have been used to acquire and process food. This gives teeth a unique appeal for a model organ as it covers so many integrated fields of biology including development, evolution and trophic ecology. We therefore developed this symposium to reflect the diversity of research centered around the tooth and emergent vertebrate dentitions.

What were you looking forward to most about this symposia?

The opportunity to bring together so many tooth biologists working from such a diversity of perspectives and approaches is what we were looking forward to most. As attendees at the SICB meeting certainly appreciate: the power of integrative biology is often enhanced when we are able to learn about novel or complimentary approaches that can be used to tackle similar questions. Symposium such as ours that will all be focused on vertebrates and their teeth will allow everyone attending to gain integrative insights into cutting edge research in comparative biology. This symposium should provide an unparalleled opportunity for participants to gain knowledge about how mechanistic approaches in evolution, functional morphology, physiology, and developmental genomics could compliment each others’ research programs.

What future directions are you most excited about?

As the title of this symposium ‘Biology at the Cusp: Teeth as a Model Phenotype for Integrating Developmental Genomics, Biomechanics, and Ecology’ suggests, this collection of speakers highlights how wide-reaching and integrative the extended field of tooth biology is. So, the most exciting element of the future of this field is how far integrative collaborations can push or even break the boundaries of biological disciplines and galvanize crosscutting research. The tooth has become a central and uniting theme in biological research that links vast research themes from ecology, evolution, development, genomics and biomedical research. The tooth holds a unique position in biological research due to the fact that as a character it is a vertebrate innovation. But this character unites us all from fish to humans, and thus the conservation of development and form is major inspiration to our work as is the medical research facets of our work that offer a more direct impetus for a greater understanding of tooth form and function.

What do you hope attendees were able to take away from the Symposia?

We hope attendees come away with a more robust understanding of tooth biology and the many facets of biology that can be brought to together in dental research. Comparative tooth biology is also a field that has direct translational consequences for our understanding of human dentistry. Every day we are learning more about how processes such as tooth structure, tooth wear, and tooth replacement function all have diversified during vertebrate evolution history. This all can also provide valuable insight into human dental and craniofacial medicine. Additionally, because teeth are such an essential component of studies in disciplines as seemingly disparate as vertebrate paleobiology, ecology, and evolutionary developmental biology, an integrative understanding of dental phenotypes has far-reaching consequences for the Society as a whole. Whether attendees are more focused on basic research questions, applied human medicine, or interested in phenotypes that can be used to show the power of integration across disciplines for students in the classroom, we think this symposium will provide memorable insights for everyone.


collected and posted by SICB Journals managing editor – Suzanne Miller (icbjournal@sicb.org / iobjournal@sicb.org) 

Science podcasts you may have missed out on…

With upcoming holiday breaks, there’ll be more time for binge listening. 

Here are several podcasts you may have been missing out on. We’d love for you to tweet via @ICB_journal and share not only the link to this blog, but also tag your favorite science podcast. You might alert others in the SICB community to some we’ve been missing out on as well. 





This comedic science podcast is hosted by Emmy award winning Ali Ward, who was a science correspondent for CBS and also the host of “Did I Mention Invention?”. Shows include such topics as –

*Quantum Ontology with Adam Becker where he touches on questions like : Is anything real? How many universes are there? Do we know what dark matter is all about? Is everything a simulation being run by a quantum computer through a wormhole from a future era?

*Chiropterology with Dr. Merlin Tuttle

This one is my personal fave as Alie heads to the bat capital of Austin(where SICB WILL BE THIS YEAR FOR THEIR 2020 CONFERENCE and we’ll also have the Austin Bat refuge joining our journal booth 🙂. In this segment, Alie sits down with the legendary chiropterologist to discuss wild field stories and close calls and caves and comebacks and bat chatter and what a bat actually is and how big they get and what’s up with their smushy noses, why folks are so frightened by them, the evolution of flight, echolocation and much more.

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@maddie_sofia  to follow the host

Short wave has a wide range of topics that span from broad interest to the extremely specific interest.

In the episode, That Revolutionary Gene Editing Experiment? So far so good...we meet a woman living with Sickle Cell Anemia who is undergoing treatments utilizing CRISPR. By removing cells from a diseased woman’s body and infusing edited cells back into her body, they’re hopeful that this will cause the woman’s disease to go into remission. Listen to find out if it’s working and how it’s working.


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SICB members, Dr. Art Woods and Dr. Lynn B. Martin , are the hosts of this podcast. One of the episodes where they too touch on bats (notice an Austin centric theme here:) is Episode 5 Please don’t kill the bats! Dr. Barbara Han sheds light on how disease spreads from animals to humans. Check it out for more on her research on predicting outbreaks.

They also have some wonderful episodes covering animal signaling, reproductive selection, the social habits of dolphins, why living things evolve similar solutions to common problems and much much more!


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Want to know who’s talking about your research? The Altmetric Podcast (new this year)  is a great place to start. Host Lucy Goodchild talks to authors who’ve had their scientific papers score Altmetric numbers as high as the 3-4,000’s discuss not only their research but also what they did after they published to get the word out.

Being a dog owner, I’m partial to the  episode “We’re suckers for puppy dog eyes” where researchers studied mimicking behaviors that dogs developed, and certain breed’s pedomorphistic qualities (infant like traits) that make us want to nurture them more.

The very first episode “Understanding Climate Change” with researcher Jean-Francois Bastin discusses his remarkable paper, Understanding climate change from a global analysis of city analogues. He not only discusses why we need to plant more trees in urban areas, but also the fact that publishing the work is only a small percentage of what scientists are called on to do in this era. He gives a few pointers as to how he and his colleagues used social media and other avenues to get the word out about their work.


*This blog by Suzanne Miller – Managing Editor of SICB journals (icbjournal@sicb.org)







Women in Science – ICB last Nov. Installment

All this month, we’ve enjoyed featuring some of the outstanding women who are involved in making ICB run successfully. Below are last two participants in our Women in Science blogs. Go to their sites and or follow them on social media to see what their labs are up to. 

Morgan Furze 

Newly appointed Division of Botany representative on our Assistant Editor team 

“I am currently working on carbohydrate storage in plants.
What I’m most excited about in exploring this topic is how trees respond to stress. I’m combining tools from plant physiology with microCT imaging to quantify and monitor carbohydrate metabolism.
A pressing issue that’s most on my mind in the sciences is mentorship. Specifically, identifying the ways in which mentors can better serve as role models, support the needs of students, and encourage the participation of underrepresented groups in STEM fields.
www.morganfurze.com @rooting4trees

Cecilia Conaco

Newly appointed non divisional Assistant Editor for ICB 


“My lab is currently studying the impact of a changing ocean environment on various aspects of marine life. We are interested in understanding gene expression dynamics and the regulatory networks that control development, symbioses, and stress responses in marine animals, including sponges, corals, and giant clams. What I’m most excited about in exploring this topic is that, not only do we get to work with unique organisms, we also get a glimpse into the molecular mechanisms that underlie their resilience and success in different ecological niches. A pressing issue that’s most on my mind in the sciences is the potential impact of a rapidly changing ocean environment and climate on marine biodiversity. There is still so much to learn from life in the oceans. More than ever, we need concerted efforts to study and understand these organisms, with an eye towards finding effective approaches for their protection or conservation.”

Installment compiled by Suzanne Miller- Managing Editor of SICB Journals