The Animal Section of the SEB has a diverse range of interests in whole-organism biology. But we are also interested at the links to cellular processes at lower levels of biological organisation, as well as associations between physiology, locomotion, and behaviour in the context of ecophysiology or ecology. However, the core theme is the biology of the whole organism.
The Animal Section has a number of special interest groups covering different areas of animal biology that you are welcome to join. These interest groups help to organise sessions at our Annual Conference and our Symposia. Each interest group is headed by a group convenor, and the group convenors make up the SEB Animal Section Committee.
Below is the list of animal biology interest groups, use the button below to log in to the members' area and join a group:
Animal biology interest groups
Convenor: Nicolai Konow (University of Massachusetts Lowell , USA)
Biomechanics is the study of mechanical principles in biological systems, ranging from the molecular to the organismal level, and beyond, including interactions with the environment. As such, the Biomechanics Group of the SEB brings together scientists from a wide variety of disciplines, including zoologists, botanists, molecular biologists, physiologists, kinesiologists, mathematicians, engineers, biomimeticists and computer scientists.
The SEB Annual Conference includes 3 to 4 days of Biomechanics presentations. We have an Open Biomechanics session, spanning several days, that consists of talks and posters on the application of biomechanics to any topic, including swimming, flying, terrestrial locomotion, feeding, functional morphology, muscle-tendon mechanics, damage and repair of materials, in animals and plants. We also run special topic sessions, of which rece
Convenor: Shaun Killen (University of Glasgow)
The aim of the ecophysiology interest group is to promote interactions between scientists who are interested in, or study, the physiology of individual animals in an ecological context, with an emphasis on the implications of that physiology for ecological processes – such as survival, fecundity and geographical distributions. This includes several key areas of research:
The physiological processes that are involved in life history trade-offs. In particular the roles that may be played by metabolism and oxidative stress in trade-offs associated with survival, fecundity, growth and senescence throughout ontogeny.
The factors that influence energy demands of free-living animals and how these relate to foraging, predator-avoidance, social interactions and reproductive investment, and affect wider aspects of biology including population ecology, spatial ecology and geographical distributions.
The use of modern omics technologies in non-standard organisms to understand physiology in settings outside the laboratory.
Ecophysiologists take the view that physiology is a factor that cannot be ignored when attempting to understand the ecology of organisms. A key aim of the group is to bring together ecologists and physiologists who have an interest in using physiology as a tool to understand ecology.
Convenor: Jehan-herve Lignot (University of Montpellier, France)
This group is interested in a broad spectrum of research that encompasses the field of animal osmoregulation. Ion-transport, acid–base balance, links between feeding and osmoregulation, toxicological effects on osmoregulation, endocrine and neuroendocrine control of osmoregulation are just some of the topics that have been recently covered at sessions organised by our group at the Annual Meetings. These areas are investigated at a variety of different levels including in vitro techniques, gene expression, ion fluxes of whole animals and – central to our interests – the integration of other aspects of physiology with osmoregulation.
Examples of animals studies within our group include the Lake Magadi tilapia (Oreochromis alcalicus grahami), which lives in environments with pH as high as 9.9, a condition that would be fatal to almost all teleost fish. Oreochromis alcalicus grahami show a severe metabolic acidosis when placed in water of neutral pH, which interferes with their ability to produce urea. When drinking large quantities of the alkaline water in which it lives, Oreochromis alcalicus grahami protects its stomach with an anatomical side-pocketing of the stomach.
Environmental influences on osmoregulation are a major focus of our group. For example, the Amazonian cichlid, Astronotus ocellatus, is extremely resistant to hypoxia and has an amazing ability to regulate ion homeostasis during periods of low oxygen. During hypoxia, these animals avoid a marked disturbance of internal ion status by simultaneously reducing sodium pumping and leak rates at the gills.
Convenor: Gina Galli (University of Manchester)
The field of respiration physiology studies organisms as a system of gas exchange that spans from the use of oxygen and provision of energy in the mitochondria and the cellular production of carbon dioxide, to the diffusive and convective transfer of these respiratory gases through multiple structures and compartments between organelles and the environment, water or air.
Respiratory physiologists detail mechanistic studies of respiration at all levels of biological organisation, as well as in integrating findings into a holistic picture of how animals function in their environment. Respiration physiology greatly benefits from the comparative approach, where variations in respiratory mechanisms employed by animals in different, often challenging environments, or with different lifestyles are used to elucidate fundamental principles of respiratory function.
Wide-ranging studies – from diving insects to air-breathing lungfishes to oxygen-depositing deep sea fishes, from hibernating frogs to running lizards and digesting snakes, and from high-flying birds to burrowing moles to deep-diving seals – have greatly increased our knowledge about the capacities and limits of respiratory mechanisms across animals. This is a key factor for assessing consequences of past and future changes in respiratory environments.
Convenor: Jenni Prokkola (University of Liverpool)
Deputy Convenor: Sandra Fehsenfeld (Université du Québec, Rimouski)
This group is interested in all aspects of research in comparative animal endocrinology and conservation endocrinology, and has strong links with a number of the groups within the Animal Section. Interests include both vertebrate and invertebrate endocrinology and the plethora of physiological functions controlled or influenced by the endocrine system.
For example, the role of hormones in reproduction, the stress response, ion regulation, digestion, molting and development.
The group reflects current advances in comparative endocrinology such as reporting on the growing body of evidence that links manmade chemicals with endocrine disruption and the use of perturbations to the endocrine system in response to environmental stressors as a tool in conservation.
Convenor: Felix Mark (Alfred Wegener Institute)
Deputy Convenor: Marta Pimentel (University of Lisbon)
The exciting and emerging field of conservation physiology explores the physiological responses of organisms to anthropogenic -induced environment al change and attempts to determine the possible threats imposed by current and future conditions. Underpinned by ecological and physiological theory, conservation physiology takes a multidisciplinary and integrative approach that encompasses both field and laboratory-based research. It aims to determine and assess abiotic and biotic factors that impact upon the physiology and fitness of organisms providing the ability to both assess and forecast the responses of organisms to environmental change. Ultimately, conservation physiologists aim to assist in determining the degree of threat to organisms and so help to set priority areas for conservation action and management.
A key objective of this group is to bring physiologists, ecologists and conservation biologists together that have an interest in studies that are assessing and predicting the impacts of current and future human-induced environmental change on organisms.
The SEB together with Oxford University Press have seen a growing need for a scientific journal to cover this rapidly growing field. The journal Conservation Physiology was launched in 2014 and is now the leading journal in this area.
Convenor: Øyvind Øverli (Norwegian University of Life Sciences)
Deputy Convenor: Ida Johansen (Norwegian University of Life Sciences)
Neurobiology is a truly integrative science comprising molecular, genetic, neuroanatomical, physiological and behavioural approaches to understanding nervous system functioning at multiple levels of organisation. Events at the cellular level through to whole animal behaviour provide a holistic view of the neurobiology of all animal groups. Traditional methods of measuring nervous system responses using imaging, histology and electrophysiology are combined with contemporary genomic and genetic techniques to elucidate causal mechanisms of animal behaviour.
As a multidisciplinary group, neurobiology attracts scientists from a wide range of fields including anatomy, behaviour, comparative physiology, psychology, genetics and zoology (non-biomedical). The ultimate aim of the neurobiology interest group is to engage a diverse array of scientists who adopt different approaches with a common goal of addressing current topics in neuroscience, with a focus on evolutionary, comparative and ecological questions.
The ultimate aim of the neurobiology group is to engage a diverse array of scientists who adopt different approaches with a common goal of addressing current topics in neuroscience.
Thermal variation is a reality for most animals and occurs over diurnal and seasonal timescales. Recent concerns of ‘anthropogenic’-induced climate change has sparked renewed interest in the thermal biology of animals.
The capacity of the genotype to produce distinct phenotypes under different environmental conditions is a widespread and powerful means by which animals can adapt to ensure performance and survival in a fluctuating thermal environment.
The Thermobiology Group is composed of individuals interested in the profound effect temperature, and other environmental factors, have on biological life. Our interests span all kingdoms and all life stages. A key objective of this group is to bring physiologists, ecologists and conservation biologists together to explore how animals interact and adapt to their environment.
Each year the SEB Thermobiology Group, in association with the Journal of Thermal Biology (JTB), hosts lecture at the SEB’s Annual Conference. The list of annual lectures is given below.
Members are welcome to submit proposals for sessions at the SEB Annual Conference and for symposia and satellite meetings.