We at Arizona State University are extremely happy to host the 3rd North American section meeting of the IUSSI this October. This meeting follows the two very successful section meetings held at Nederland, Colorado (1997), and the Ozarks, Arkansas (2000), and it provides a unique opportunity for social insect researchers to gather, talk, and socialize outside the ESA venue.
Many things have happened in the social insect world over the past 4 years. Numerous significant findings have resulted from the increasing popularity of social insects as research organisms. A draft version of the honey bee genome is available, and the honey bee sex gene has been discovered, both leading to honey bees becoming a model organism. Ants have become focal organisms for the study of biological invasions, and genetic caste determination was discovered in two different ant genera. Additionally, numerous molecular genetic and phylogenetic techniques have become increasingly powerful and easy to use, allowing researchers to provide an integrative framework for topics such as colony sociogenetics, mating frequency, and the genetic basis of behaviors such as cooperation.
The Ant Course and the Bee Course were also initiated since the last IUSSI meeting in the Ozarks, both being taught at the Southwestern Research Station in Portal, Arizona. Thusfar, these two courses have trained over 150 students and faculty the skills to identify ant and bee genera and species, as well as providing overviews on a broad array of topics that can be incorporated into research programs. Related to these workshops, Antweb was developed as a tool to explore the diversity and identification of ants; Antweb provides high-resolution photos of numerous ant species and will be an invaluable resource as it continues to expand.
This year also marks milestones for Edward O. Wilson and Bert Hölldobler, two of our foremost leaders in social insect research. Early 2005 marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Wilson's Ph.D. thesis (A monographic revision of the ant genus Lasius), and Bert Hölldobler will retire (for the first time) in October 2004. The extensive contributions of both “Uncle Ed” and Bert are being acknowledged by forthcoming books. The book dedicated to Edward O. Wilson will be a series of papers on ant systematics, and the book dedicated to Bert Hölldobler will be a series of papers on the evolution of eusociality.
Our selection to host this IUSSI meeting is timed perfectly for ASU given the recent commitment of the University to develop “sociocomplexity” as a focal area of research within the School of Life Sciences. This commitment has resulted in hiring several faculty that work on social insects, including Bert Hölldobler, Rob Page, Juergen Gadau, and Juergen Liebig. In order to foster additional interaction with our European colleagues, we are also happy to announce that Koos Boomsma will attend our meeting and give a short talk.
Our meeting will be held at Camp Tontozona, which is in the mountains about 2-2.5 hours northeast of Phoenix, AZ. Camp Tontozona is situated in a Ponderosa pine forest immediately adjacent to the Tonto National Forest; Tonto Creek runs adjacent to the camp. Temperatures in early October generally range from the 70s to 80s during the day and 40s to 50s at night. The area surrounding Camp Tontozona is filled with opportunities for outdoor recreation and exploration. Activities include trout fishing in Tonto Creek or in nearby lakes (trout stamp is required), horseback riding, numerous trails for hiking and exploring, natural waterfalls, and a swimming hole.
Following the conference, Bob Johnson and Stefan Cover will lead be a 3-day fieldtrip to explore and collect ants at higher elevations of the White Mountains. More information on this trip is available on the meeting web site (see post-conference excursion) or by contacting Bob Johnson. This field-trip will focus on ants, but there will also be an abundance of other insects, and scenery that includes coniferous and aspen forests, grasslands, alpine meadows, and montane streams.
We look forward to seeing familiar faces as well as meeting new students and hearing about all the exciting projects that are currently underway.
All meeting information is posted on the menu of the web page for the Social Insect Research Group at ASU (http://lsweb.la.asu.edu/sirg/). The deadline for submitting abstracts has been set as 1 July, 2004. Please direct any questions or queries to Bob Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jennifer Fewell at email@example.com.
Bob Johnson & Jennifer Fewell
School of Life Sciences
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ 85287-4501
Phone : 480-897-2473 (RAJ)
Phone: 480-965-6539 (JHF)