50 Years of International Ethological Conferences
The International Ethological Conference was born just after WWII when the organizers and participants wanted to resume the science they loved and renew the friendships they had built before the War. In July 1949 the Association for the Study of Animal Behavior and the Society for Experimental Biology organized a Symposium on “Physiological Mechanisms in Animal Behaviour.” This meeting brought to Cambridge most of the key players in animal behavior at the time, such as Niko Tinbergen, Gerard Baerends (Netherlands), Konrad Lorenz (Austria), William Thorpe, J.Z. Young (UK), Erich von Holst, Otto Koehler (Germany), Paul Weiss and Karl Lashley (USA), an international group representing both sides of the recent conflict in Europe.
In the following year, von Holst invited some colleagues and their students to his lab in Wilhelmshaven for 10 days (Thorpe 1979). It was a small informal group, with no proceedings where “only half-baked ideas” were discussed (Nisbett 1976). The meeting was such a success that the group planned the first International Ethological Conference which was held at Buldern in 1952, a castle in Westfalia and the site of Konrad Lorenz’s first institute (Eibl-Eibesfeldt 1985). The second IEC was held in Oxford in 1953 with about 80 participants (Dewsbury 1989) and it has been held at regular two-year intervals since then. “The early fifties were such a marvelous time to be an ethologist. The science was blossoming and practically everything one touched was new. Ethological meetings were filled with intense discussion…” (Hinde 1985)
From the first, the tradition of the IEC has been to hold an informal, international, 10-day conference where a great diversity of topics and ideas could be discussed. The early meetings were small, by invitation only, with a single session “so that nobody need miss anything” and they often went on late into the evening (Manning 1985). Two-way translation was provided by Lorenz, Tinbergen and Baerends. Speakers would stop every 10 minutes or so to have a section translated, a mammoth task for the most senior researchers in the field (who, as a result, could not miss a single session). In fact, the meeting was so exhausting for the participants that a day off was provided mid-way through, a “merciful tradition” (Manning 1985) that continues to this day. Although small meetings certainly have their advantages, by the late ‘70’s many felt that a meeting by invitation only was no longer appropriate (Marler 1985) and so it was abandoned at the 1983 meeting in Brisbane. Although the IEC is now massively larger, requiring many concurrent sessions, it retains much of its earlier character. The IEC encourages international participation while retaining its European roots with alternate meetings held in Europe and abroad; the ICE (International Council of Ethologists which plans future IEC meetings) remains informal; the long format of the meeting still provides an important means of developing friendships and collaborations; the mid-conference field trips are still an important element; and all aspects of animal behavior are still considered and discussed.
In its 50th year, the IEC returns to Germany where its initial conference was held, and to one of the centers for animal behavior research over the past 50 years. Like its predecessors, this Conference will emphasize integrative approaches to ethology: the adaptiveness of behavior as well as how behavior evolved, developed and is controlled.
The ICE would like to thank Raimund Apfelbach and the Tübingen Committee for their hard work and organizational skills in sponsoring the 2001 International Ethological Conference.
H. Jane Brockmann
Secretary General, ICE
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International Ethological Conferences
1952 Buldern, West Germany I
1953 Oxford, UK II
1955 Gronigen, Netherlands III
1957 Freiberg, Germany IV
1959 Cambridge, UK V
1961 Stamberg, Germany VI
1963 The Hague, Netherlands VII
1965 Zurich, Switzerland VIII
1967 Stockholm, Sweden X (IX is missing)
1969 Rennes, France XI
1971 Edinburgh, Scotland XII
1973 Washington DC, USA XIII
1975 Parma, Italy XIV
1977 Bielefeld, Germany XV
1979 Vancouver, Canada XVI
1981 Oxford, UK XVII
1983 Brisbane, Australia XVIII
1985 Toulouse, France XIX
1987 Madison, USA XX
1989 Utrecht, Netherlands XXI
1991 Kyoto, Japan XXII
1993 Torrelominos, Spain XXIII
1995 Honolulu, USA XXIV
1997 Vienna, Austria XXV
1999 Bangalore, India XXVI
2001 Tubingen, Germany XXVII
2003 Florianopolis, Brazil XXVIII
2005 Budapest, Hungary XXIX
2007 Halifax, Canada XXX
2009 Rennes, France XXXI
2011 Bloomington, USA XXXII
2013 Newcastle, UK XXXIII
2015 Cairns, Australia XXXIV
Niko Tinbergen 1953- ??
Gerard Baerends 19??-1968
Aubrey Manning 1968-1975
Peter Marler 1975-1981
Marie-Claire Busnel 1981-1987
Glenn McBride 1987-1991
Lee Drickamer 1991-1995
Marian Dawkins 1995-1999
Jane Brockman 1999-2003
Michael Taborsky 2003-2007
Judy Stamps 2007-2011
Gunilla Rosenqvist 2011-2015
Barbara Koening 2015-