SEB Gothenburg 2017 - Programme


The following Animal biology sessions will take place at SEB Gothenburg 2017. Further information on the sessions can be found below:


Osmoregulation and acidification

Biomechanics, performance and behaviour

Other animal biology sessions


Effects of pharmaceuticals on wildlife - bridging the gap between ecotoxicology and ecology

Session sponsored by: The Company of Biologists

Date: 4 July 2017


Dr Josefin Sundin (Uppsala University, Sweden)
Dr Mirjam Amcoff (Stockholm University, Sweden)

  • Prof Judit Smits (University of Calgary, Canada) - Pharmaceuticals in wildlife – What we know, what we don’t know, and should we worry?
  • Prof Rafael Mateo Soria (University of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain) - Learned lessons from wildlife toxicology to improve the risk assessment of pharmaceuticals
  • Dr Kathryn Arnold (University of York, UK) - Sex, stress and food: Impacts of antidepressants in the environment on birds
  • Dr Jonatan Klaminder (Umeå University, Sweden)
  • Dr Judith Madden (Liverpool John Moores University, UK) - In silico approaches to predicting the effects of pharmaceuticals on environmental species
  • Dr Tomas Brodin (Umeå University, Sweden) - Ecological effects of pharmaceuticals in the environment - from lab experiments to field studies

An important goal of current biological research is to understand the effects of anthropogenic stressors on organisms and ecosystems. Pharmaceuticals, both from human and veterinary use, have been released into the natural environment for decades, a release that will not only continue but most likely increase. The effect of pharmaceuticals on non-target consumers has long been studied by ecotoxicologists, while the awareness amongst ecologists has only recently arisen. Limited cross-citation between ecotoxicology and ecology suggest that these fields are progressing independently, severely hampering their progression. Since pharmaceuticals are specifically designed to elicit a biological response, we need to know the ecological consequences of releasing them into the environment.

With this symposium, we wish to bring together researchers from traditionally unrelated fields with the aim to further our understanding of pharmaceutical effects on wildlife. We invite scientists from the fields of ecology, behavioural sciences, ecotoxicology, neurobiology, physiology, and chemistry to share their latest research findings, in order to assess and discuss the effects of pharmaceuticals from multiple perspectives. The goal of this symposium is to synthesize cross-disciplinary empirical and theoretical knowledge of the effects of pharmaceuticals on wildlife to bridge the gap between ecotoxicology and ecology.

Physiological mechanisms of aquatic toxicology

Date: 3 July 2017


Dr Tamzin Blewett (University of Alberta, Canada)
Prof Greg Goss (University of Alberta, Canada)

  • Dr Kristin Schirmer (EAWAG, Switzerland) - Building the fish intestine in vitro – studies on barrier function with the rainbow trout cell line, RTgutGC
  • Prof Dietmar Kueltz (UC Davis, United States) - Quantitation and causality of proteome dynamics in fish exposed to environmental stress
  • Dr Deborah MacLatchy (Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada) - Mechanisms of response to estrogenic endocrine disruptors differ in the model fish, the estuarine killifish Fundulus heteroclitus
  • Dr Bryan Brooks (Baylor University, United States) - How can studies of pharmaceuticals in the environment support basic and applied physiology and toxicology research

Understanding the physiological mechanisms by which toxicants impact aquatic biota is important in risk assessment, remediation and regulatory science. With a number of novel emerging contaminates and the recognition of the interactions of multiple contaminants, it is important to understand the mechanistic basis of their toxicity. A mechanistic understanding of how toxicity is manifested allows principles to be applied broadly across toxicant classes without having to study each contaminant as an individual toxicant. The basic mechanisms often underpinning toxicity (e.g. impairment of ionoregulatory, renal, cardiovascular, respiratory physiology) are the strengths of the SEB community. Many members of the SEB community have cross-over programs between fundamental mechanistic biology and the toxicological sciences. This session will highlight the advantages of applying physiological understanding to toxicology but also highlight the advantages of applying toxicological knowledge into our understanding of the physiology of organisms.

Osmoregulation and acidification

Challenges in the Anthropocene: acid-base/ion regulation and calcification in aquatic invertebrates

Date: 6 July 2017


Dr Dirk Weihrauch (University of Manitoba, Canada)
Dr Marian Hu (Kiel University, Germany)
Kati Michalek (SAMS, UK)
Nadège Zaghdoudi-Allan (University of Algarve, Portugal)

  • Dr Meike Stumpp (Kiel University, Germany) - Digestion at pH 10: Eco-Devo of alkaline digestive systems in basal deuterostome larvae
  • Dr Sandra Fehsenfeld (University of British Columbia, Canada) - It’s all about balance: Acid-base regulation in marine crabs
  • Alex Quijada-Rodriguez (University of Manitoba, Canada) - The imminent threat of freshwater acidification to early life stages of crusatceans
  • Dr Lia Addadi (Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel) - Biomineralisation in the sea urchin larva: From assembly and deposition in soft tissues to formation of the crystalline skeletal material
  • Dr Susan Fitzer (University of Glasgow, UK) - Mechanisms of biomineralisation in the mussel: what we know and what we still need to find out

One of the biggest scientific challenges of the 21st Century is to understand and predict the impact of climate change on marine and freshwater (FW) life (e.g. ocean and FW acidification, increased temperature and hypoxia). In particular, we need to understand the effects on fundamental physiological mechanisms and the consequential adaptation of aquatic biota to predict future biodiversity. 

The bodies of water of our planet are becoming warmer and more acidic, they are intrinsically linked with human health and wellbeing and are therefore of immense socio-economic importance. For example, invertebrates are at the bottom of the food chain and thereby of significant ecological and in the case of crustaceans and molluscs, often also of economic importance. 

The significance of understanding the mechanistic basis for acid-base and ion transport and regulation lies in the identification of key physiological processes that can determine species´ sensitivity to environmental disturbance. Identification of physiological processes that limit the capacity of a species to acclimate to changing environmental conditions provides the basis for hypotheses-driven approaches to study evolutionary adaptation in times of rapid climate change.

This one-day session will highlight key physiological processes in acid-base regulation, ion transport, calcification/regulation and the energy allocation involved, with special emphasis on invertebrates. 

In addition, linked to this session, “speed” presentations allowing early career scientists to pitch their work will summarise key findings in recent research in this area, including implications and strategies for the aquaculture industry.

Climate change and aquatic life: effects of multiple drivers, from molecules to populations

Date: 4 July 2017


Dr Lucy Turner (Plymouth University, UK)
Prof Guy Claireaux (Universite de Bretagne Occidentale, France)
Dr Manuela Truebano Garcia (Plymouth University, UK)

  • Prof Philip Munday (James Cook University, Australia) - Rapid evolutionary response to climate change in reef fishes: mechanisms and consequences
  • Prof Patricia Schulte (University of British Columbia, Canada) - Intraspecific variation in thermal tolerance, hypoxia tolerance, and metabolic rate: implications for organismal responses to climate change
  • Dr Melody Clark (British Antarctic Survey, UK) - Multi-omics approaches to understanding responses to change
  • Dr Felix Mark (Alfred Wegener Institute, Germany) - Fish on acid - the ecophysiological consequences of ocean acidification and warming on fish
  • Dr Anne Todgham (UC Davies, USA) - Importance of framing climate change biology in an ecologically relevant context: Insights from the rocky intertidal

Our planet is going through a period of unprecedented global change. This has reinvigorated the need for studies to understand the degree of individual acclimation and species adaptation to environmental drivers in the aquatic environment. Whole organism ecophysiology studies together with innovative 'omics' techniques are enabling us to gain further insights into the effects of multiple environmental drivers such as acidification, warming, changes in salinity and deoxygenation on aquatic species, from the molecular level of individuals through to populations, including those of non-model organisms. This session aims to bring together current research on this topic promoting discussion amongst ecophysiologists, evolutionary biologists, developmental biologists, molecular biologists and ecologists of what should be our future research priorities in this area.

Osmoregulation and acid-base balance in aquatic organisms

Session sponsored by: Loligo Systems

Date: 3 July 2017


Dr Kevin Brix (University of Miami, United States)
Dr Andrew Esbaugh (University of Texas, United States)
Dr Martin Tresguerres (Scripps Institution of Oceanography, United States)

  • Prof Seth Alper (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, United States) - Acid-base balance in the mammalian kidney
  • Dr Katie Gilmour (University of Ottawa, Canada) - Carbonic anhydrase in the ionocytes of the fish gill: responses to acid-base challenges
  • Dr Colin Brauner (University of British Columbia, Canada) - Preferential intracellular pH regulation in vertebrates
  • Prof Martin Grosell (University of Miami, United States) - Energetic cost of intestinal ion transport pathways in marine teleosts
  • Dr Frank Melzner (GEOMAR, Germany) - Extreme extracellular ammonia accumulation in tropical diapausing copepods: transcriptomic and metabolomic insights into tolerance mechanisms
  • Dr Sylvie Tambutte (Centre Scientifique de Monaco, Monaco) - Role of pH regulation in coral calcification

The interplay between osmoregulation and acid-base balance in aquatic organisms continues to be an important area of research.  Even in well studied systems such as freshwater fish, there have been dramatic advances over the last several years, such as the role of Rh proteins and acid-sensitive ion channels in facilitating Na+ uptake, that have filled decades old knowledge gaps while at the same time raising more questions. For aquatic invertebrates, our understanding of these processes is more limited despite their wider range of ecological niches and highly diverse physiologies. With increasing concerns over ocean acidification, understanding the interplay between osmoregulation and acid-base balance, particularly in calcifying invertebrates, has become a major conservation issue. The increased attention on these phyla, as well as the development and use of new research tools to well-studied organisms promises significant scientific findings. This session will provide a forum for presenting and discussing the latest findings on this topic in both aquatic vertebrate and invertebrate systems, as well as provide perspectives on what we can learn from research on mammalian systems.

Biomechanics, performance & behaviour

Constraints on adaptation and performance: from individuals to populations

Date: 3 July 2017


Dr Shaun Killen (University of Glasgow, UK)
Dr Carol Bucking (York University, Canada)

  • Dr Graham Scott (McMaster University, Canada) - Evolution, plasticity, and the integrative physiology of performance in high-altitude environments
  • Prof Frank Seebacher (University of Sydney, Australia) - Plasticity of locomotor function and its effect on behaviour
  • Dr Heath MacMillan (York University, Canada) - Struggling against entropy: how ion and water homeostasis determine insect chilling tolerance
  • Sandra Binning (University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland) - Ectoparasites: a real drag on host performance

Intrinsic and environmental constraints on locomotor and physiological performance have an important influence on the ability of animals to maintain homeostasis, find food, avoid predators, perform migrations, reproduce, and provide parental care. Plastic and evolutionary responses to overcoming such constraints are of increasing interest in the face of increasing environmental change. This session will examine how environmental constraints impinge on animals and how factors such as nutrition, metabolism, and organ systems such as the circulatory system, nervous system, and immune system can all affect whole-animal performance and how these effects may be modulated by the environment. Also of interest are how behaviours associated with social hierarchies or food choice may feedback to affect physiological systems. The focus will be on integration across levels of biology, from the cell to behavioural phenotype. 

Naturally occurring experiments: using life history events to understand locomotor performance

Session sponsored by: Sable Systems International and The Company of Biologists

Date: 6 July 2017


Dr Natalie Holt (UC Irvine, United States)
Dr Angela Horner (University San Bernadino, United States)

  • Dr Marguerite Butler (University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, United States) - Finding mates in new neighbourhoods: evolution of the visual system and larval locomotor performance in response to new microhabitats in Hawaiian damselflies
  • Dr Rudolf Schilder (Pennsylvania State University, United States) - Mechanisms mediating naturally occurring variation in insect muscle performance
  • Dr Jesse Young (Northeast Ohio Medical University, United States) - Ontogenetic determinants of escape performance in eastern cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus)
  • Dr Jennifer Taylor (UC San Diego, United States) - Mobility during moulting in Crustacea

The locomotor abilities of an organism are profoundly influenced by its life history. The mechanical demands of locomotion change dramatically with season and environment, and the ability of an organism to meet these demands varies with factors such as season, age, reproductive state, and disease. The study of these natural changes in demands and capacity not only improves our understanding of the functional, ecological, and clinical consequences of such life history events, but also provides a tool to study basic biomechanical principles. For example, the changes in connective tissue properties that occur with age allow us not only to understand factors contributing to the age-related decline in locomotor performance, but also allow us to better understand the role of connective tissues. Similarly, studying changes in musculoskeletal tissues during early ontogeny aid our understanding of the factors influencing survivorship whilst also providing a longitudinal study of tissue plasticity. 

The development of pathological models and improved biomechanical techniques have dramatically improved our understanding of life history perturbations. However, the potential of this approach to study the emergent properties of complex biological systems and elucidate basic principles of animal movement is somewhat under-utilized. This symposium brings together researchers working on vertebrate and invertebrate species, across topics as diverse as ontogeny, molting, gravidity, parasitism, and ageing. We hope that this will highlight the potential for using naturally occurring life history perturbations in biomechanics research, and to encourage investigators to take novel, ecologically relevant approaches to address basic science questions.

The obligation of activity - how do animals get fit, and what takes them over the hill?

Date: 4 July 2017


Dr Lewis Halsey (University of Roehampton, UK)
Dr Shaun Killen (University of Glasgow, UK)

  • Dr Carl Soulsbury (University of Lincoln, UK) - Exercising at the edge: when is exercise costly
  • Dr Kevin Matson (Wageningen University, Netherlands) - Animals, activity, and immunology
  • Dr Hannah Froy (University of Edinburgh, UK) - Exploring ageing in wild vertebrate populations using longitudinal field data
  • Dr Simon Babayan (University of Glasgow, UK) - Outrunning disease: peaks and gaps in the exercise & immunity landscape

Evidence from sports science tells us that human beings become physically fitter in response to activity, but also that excessive exercise leads to chronic fatigue and reduced immunocompetence. How does this phenomenon translate to the rest of the animal kingdom?

A discussion is growing in the literature about whether some animal species might need to undertake voluntary activity to ‘keep fit’. The involuntary activities of some animals may not be sufficient to maintain optimal physical conditioning necessary for rare but important behaviours such as fleeing predators. For other species, their capacity to forage might be substantially reduced after long-term fasting, torpor or hibernation. If there are indeed species that undertake voluntary activity to boost physical capacity then this behaviour will have implications for their time and energy budgets. In parallel, there is a growing body of empirical literature on animal senescence, including investigations into how activity levels change with age, and whether high intensity activity can accelerate the aging process (or at least reduce the ‘health span’ if not the ‘life span’ of an animal). And an intriguing twist to animal senescence is ‘terminal improvement’ – a last hurrah as some animals seemingly upregulate their physiology before death. Thus activity is at once essential for an animal’s ecology, yet at the same time may need to be supplemented to ensure optimal body condition while too much of it for too long may be harmful.

This symposium seeks to ascertain the current state of research into how animals manage their levels of activity, particularly with regards to maintaining optimal levels of physical state.

Other animal biology sessions

Biological adhesives: from biology to biomimetics

Date: 6 July 2017


Dr Janek von Byern (Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Experimental and Clinical Traumatology, Austria)
Prof Stanislav Gorb (Kiel University, Germany)

  • Prof Andrew Smith (Ithaca College, United States) - Double networks and slug glue: Integrating mechanics and sequence data to characterise an unusually tough hydrogel adhesive
  • Prof Alfred Crosby (University of Massachusetts Amherst, United States) - Scaling principles for bio-inspired adhesion: Revealing the importance of whole system mechanics
  • Dr Bo Persson (Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany) - Dry and wet adhesion: implications to tree frogs, insects and geckos
  • Dr Peter Ladurner (Universität Innsbruck, Austria) - Biological adhesion of flatworms

Many organisms, from bacteria, fungi and single cells to much larger marine algae and animals use chemical and mechanical mechanisms for attachment. These bioadhesive systems are unusual, because they are able to function over wide range of temperatures, in different environments, and form stable bonds within milliseconds to all sorts of substrates, often with complex surface chemistries and/or immersed in water. Knowledge about these materials, in terms of composition, structural design and interactions with surfaces, is necessary to reveal the basic biochemical and mechanical principles involved in biological adhesion.

Within the SEB session on bioadhesion (supported by the new funded COST ACTION European Network of Bioadhesion Expertise “ENBA”, Project No. CA15216) we aim to specifically address the fundamental knowledge gaps that exist currently in the bioadhesive community. The scientific topics of the session include (1) the characterization of bioadhesion phenomena at multiple scales (from macro to nano level), (2) understand bonding principles at the molecular level as well as (3) design artificial systems to test these principles in vitro.

This session will be multidisciplinary, welcoming participants from different fields, sectors, and backgrounds interested in identification and characterisation of novel, previously uncharacterised structures and materials using holistic approach.

Integrative modelling approaches to the fish cardio-respiratory system under environmental change - Is it time for a fish physiome initiative?

Date: 6 July 2017


Dr Michael Berenbrink (University of Liverpool, UK)
Dr Gina Galli (University of Manchester, UK)

  • Prof Tony Farrell (University of British Columbia, Canada) - Capacities and limits to convectional respiratory gas transport in fishes
  • Prof Peter Hunter (University of Auckland, New Zealand) 
  • Dr Paolo Domenici (CNR, Italy) - Fish physiology and ecology under environmental challenges
  • Dr Hans Malte (Aarhus University, Denmark) - Modelling gas exchange in the fish gill
  • Prof Tobias Wang (Aarhus University, Denmark) - Modelling maximal oxygen consumption rates in fishes
  • Dr Erika Eliason (UC Santa Barbara, United States) - Pros and cons of the cardiorespiratory system in sockeye salmon as a model
  • Prof Stuart Egginton (University of Leeds, UK) - Microvascular adaptability to environmental challenges and the modelling of peripheral oxygen delivery to skeletal muscle
  • Dr Tony Hickey (Auckland University, New Zealand) - Mitochondrial capacities and limits in fish tissues

Fishes constitute important model systems for studies examining the effects of climate change on our oceans and rivers. Quantitative studies of the response of the fish cardiorespiratory system to external challenges have a rich history but in the past have largely been limited to the whole organism and organ system levels and been aimed at exploring maximal capacities of mechanisms. This session explores on the one hand to what extent these mechanisms can be integrated with mechanisms on molecular and cellular levels of biological organisation. On the other hand it will be explored how these mechanisms will be affected by environmentally relevant challenges in terms of their plasticity and genetic variability.

The basic idea for this session is to get the experts on cardiac function, blood respiratory gas transport, red blood cell and haemoglobin function, acid-base and ion regulation, gill function and tissue capillarisation, but also fish energetics, into a room together with bio-mathematicians to explore quantitative integration of those systems. It will overlap with the interests of both proponent and opponents of the OCLTT and also link into people interested in environmental hypoxia, warming and acidification, and modelling of fish responses to climate change. Given the great diversity of fishes a specific question will be what species should be used as model systems for such an approach. This approach is analogous to the human physiome initiative with the difference that physiological responses are modeled as a function of environmental changes rather than disease. Thus, the session explores whether the time has come for a fish physiome (here proposed to be called ichthyome or pisciome) initiative among fish physiologists/ecologists. Given the discussions about a potential limitation of fish thermal tolerance by the capacity of their oxygen transport systems, especially the cardio-respiratory system, the session is timely, topical and invites  contributions from within and beyond the SEB animal section.

Open animal biology

Date: 5 July 2017

The open animal biology session comprises talks and posters on all the aspects of animal biology that are not catered to in the specific Animal Section sessions. As such, the session is an important element of the scientific programme, with high-quality presentations on a wide spectrum of subjects. The general session has been very successful in recent years, and will take place over the third day at Gothenburg in 2017. The programme of talks is organised (as far as possible) into the subject areas of the special interest groups of the Animal Section, so delegates can attend back to back presentations within their general area of interest. We particularly encourage presentations by post grads, postdocs and early career scientists.

Open biomechanics

Date: 5 July 2017


Prof Rob James (Coventry University, UK)

The 'open biomechanics session' showcases research in mechanics across a diverse range of topics such as: insect flight, fish swimming, mammalian running, suspension feeding, water transport in plants, material properties, kinematics of bird flocks and muscle mechanics. This session is open to submissions from all topics within biomechanics and is particularly supportive of early career researchers. The session is attended by a large audience from a broad discipline base.  There will also be prizes for the best posters and oral presentations (3 for each category).

Pierre Laurent

Morphology meets Physiology: A tribute to Pierre Laurent

Gothenburg, Sweden
30 June - 1 July 2017
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Animal Biology Section

Find out more about our Animal Biology interest groups and how you can get involved