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Integrative and comparative biologists to discuss latest research

SAN FRANCISCO: The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB), one of the oldest and most prestigious interdisciplinary biological organizations, will hold its annual meeting at the Hilton San Francisco, Union Square, in San Francisco, CA, from January 3 to 7, 2013. More than 1,500 scientists will present the latest research on animal ecology, evolution, physiology, neurobiology, and biomechanics, offering journalists a rich assortment of news and feature possibilities.

Members of the news media are encouraged to attend the meeting. For more information, please visit the meeting website at, or contact Brett Burk.

This year at SICB, experts from a wide array of different disciplines will convene at the meeting to discuss cutting edge science on multiple topics; the following symposia may be of particular interest:

  • When Predators Attack: Sensing and Motion in Predator-Prey Interactions

  • Vertebrate Land Invasions: Past, Present, and Future

  • Phenotypic Plasticity and the Evolution of Gender Roles

Besides these symposia, SICB researchers will be discussing many diverse topics such as how animals tell what time and month it is, how they cope with a changing environment, and how they can pass information about the environment to their descendentswithout genes. Along with these, scientists will present the latest results on the mechanics of walking, swimming, hopping, jumping, and flying, the evolution of body shape, behavior, symbiosis, and ecological interactions, and many other topics.

When Predators Attack: Sensing and Motion in Predator-Prey Interactions

Predators and their prey are engaged in a constant battle, in which finely tuned sensory abilities and split-second reaction times can mean the difference between life and death. Researchers are using cutting edge techniques and amazing high speed video footage to investigate how predators and prey process sensory information and translate it into action. Although we know a lot about how many predators and prey interact to cause populations to rise and fall, we don't know very much about how two animal opponents sense each other and react, leading to some animals getting eaten and some escaping. Through the use of cutting-edge techniques, neurobiologists, ecologists, and biomechanics researchers have recently made this a tractable area of research. The goal of this symposium is to highlight new findings that are advancing our understanding of sensing and movement in predator-prey interactions, an exciting new frontier of cross-disciplinary research.

Vertebrate Land Invasions: Past, Present, and Future

How did the first fishes start to climb out of the ocean and live on land? These early land animals, the ancestors of all modern vertebrates on land, faced numerous challenges, including moving and supporting themselves, breathing, eating, sensing, and not drying out. Although we can't study the ancients directly, there are modern species of fish and amphibians that come out on land and face many of the same challenges as the early pioneers did. These modern animals may help us to understand the early transition to land. The symposium brings together a diverse array of scientists from different fields such as paleontology, physiology, behavior, biomechanics, and robotics, to highlight their research in topics related to vertebrate land invasions.

Phenotypic Plasticity and the Evolution of Gender Roles

In many animals, gender roles are much more fluid than they are in humans. Some animals start off male and later become female, or the other way around; others can be male and female simultaneously. This is an example of phenotypic plasticity, the remarkable ability of some organisms to radically change their appearance (and even their sexuality) in response to environmental cues. This symposium will be a window into the fascinating world of animal sexuality, with presentations on the genetics, evolution, ecology, and physiology of gender in organisms ranging from barnacles to snapping turtles.


Contact: Robert Gropp
American Institute of Biological Sciences

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