The Parks Lab at the Animal Behavior Meeting

This past week, Dana, Hannah and I travelled to Princeton, NJ for the 51st annual meeting of the Animal Behavior Society. It was only my second time attending the meeting, and a first for both Hannah and Dana. The setting at Princeton University was beautiful, though it did take a day or so to orient to the circuitous routes around campus. The first day I felt as thought I was inside some sort of 19th century maze.  My niece and nephew are current students at Princeton, and my brother and his wife both attended, so it was fun to see where they all went to school.

entrance to building with lion statues on sides

For those not familiar with the Animal Behavior Society, it is an organization founded in 1964, to study all aspects of Animal Behavior in all species. For example, at this meeting, there were scientific presentations on a range of topics from gene expression related to behavior in swordtail fish to documentation of an infanticide attempt in dolphins. The species covered the full range from small insects (even a talk on mosquitos) to some of the largest animals on the planet (elephants and our presentations on humpback and right whales).

lab members standing next to their posters


The meeting was much larger than the last one I attended, with 5 concurrent sessions of talks running most of the day, and poster sessions from 7-9pm in the evenings. It made for long days with lots of science.  We all had great interest in our posters, sticking with a Syracuse University theme to link our three posters together.

One of the highlights of the meeting for us was interfacing with the members of the Schul Lab at the University of Missouri. Two of the groups’ graduate students had posters directly across from ours leading to long discussions about our forays into insect research. We picked up several very useful tips. For example, Meadow Katydids like to eat horse meat (NOT what we’ve been feeding them) and katydids are easiest to catch at dusk in the evening when they aren’t actively moving behind vegetation to hide from would-be katydid catchers in the field. Dana and I also, sadly, had to mostly claim ignorance for the scientific names of our study species (a faux pas in any field of biology, but doubly so with insects!). Hannah made us proud though, with her encyclopedic knowledge of scientific names. We’re excited about staying in touch with this research group as we venture into the world of katydid research.