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Membership Emails

Below is a sample of the emails you can expect to receive when signed up to asab.

ASAB Newsletter
Spring 2020
Dear ASAB members, 

Welcome to the Spring 2020 newsletter. This is Kirsty Graham, taking over as Communications Officer from Hannah Rowland, so thank you for your patience as I get up to speed with how this all works. As someone who studies how great apes communicate, I should be well qualified for this job!

In January, the ASAB council also welcomed Dr Jennifer Perry (Ordinary Council Member), Dr Elisa Frasnelli (Ordinary Council Member), Dr Tereza Petruskova (European Secretary), and Dr Kate Lessells (Grants Secretary).

[Bonobo illustration by Alina Loth]
Since the last newsletter, London Zoo hosted our 2019 winter meeting organised by Samantha Patrick, Niels Dingemanse and Julien Martin. We saw excellent plenaries from Sinead English (University of Bristol), Julia Saltz (Rice University), and Alastair Wilson (University of Exeter), as well as the Tinbergen lecture given by Rebecca Kilner (University of Cambridge) on “How does behaviour determine evolution?”

We are now looking forward to the ASAB Easter Conference 2020 hosted by Swansea University, which is being organised by Ines Fürtbauer and members of the Behavioural Ecology and Evolution Research Theme. The deadline for abstracts and registration is Friday, Feb 14th, so be sure to get those in soon! The Easter Meeting will have plenaries from Karen Spencer and Stuart Semple, as well as the 2020 Christopher Barnard Award winner, Hannah Mumby. I look forward to meeting many of you there!

In this edition, we have a piece about ASAB’s contribution to climate change and what the society is planning to reduce our carbon footprint, as well as a message from ASAB’s Early Career Researcher Representative, Stefan Fischer. There is more information on upcoming meetings. For those of you on social media, we will be introducing ASAB’s #FollowFriday Twitter intiative. There are also a couple of offers for ASAB members.

Happy reading, everyone!
Kirsty Graham (
@asab_tweets @kirstyegraham)

ASAB, conferences, and our carbon footprint

It is impossible to ignore the growing evidence that our human actions are having strong, detrimental and perhaps irreversible effects on the world’s climate. As a Society, ASAB has been considering what contribution the work that we support might be making to these environmental changes. Most obviously, the conferences that we organise entail the travel of attendees to a central venue. We conducted a rapid assessment of the scale of this travel by surveying attendees at the last two Winter meetings in London. In 2018, we attracted 204 members (167 UK, 31 EU, 6 International). By assuming a ‘best case’ scenario in which people travelled by train wherever possible vs. a ‘worst case’ scenario in which people travelled by plane or car, we arrived at estimates of producing between 22.7 and 42.8 tonnes of carbon (with 16.7 tonnes due to air travel). In 2019, we attracted 174 members (130 UK, 39 EU, 3 International). We asked the 2019 attendees about the actual transport that they used to get to the meeting and using this came up with a more reliable figure of producing around 32.6 tonnes of carbon. To put these measures in context, it is 2.5-4 times the average annual carbon production of a UK citizen. Dividing by attendees, it comprises ~1-2% of an average person’s annual production, which corresponds to 3-8 days of carbon production. 
We are aware that there are various means of ‘offsetting’ such carbon production, but feel that reducing production, rather than shifting the responsibility elsewhere, is preferable where possible. However, we are also very aware that conferences present a critical intellectual and networking resource, especially for early career researchers and those who are more intellectually isolated, perhaps in smaller departments or institutions. Therefore, we are faced with the challenge of organising meetings in which a large and representative selection of members can participate, but without costing the earth. To this end we are considering various strategies. We would welcome any advice or suggestions that you as members may have. It’s likely that we will enact several measures simultaneously. Below are some ideas that we are currently considering. There are pros and cons associated with all of these measures, but we must recognise that we are facing a climate emergency.
  1. International Plenary Speakers. Perhaps the most obvious ‘cost’ that we could reduce is that of flying in an international plenary speaker for a single 1 hour talk. The council agreed that we will try to cease or limit this. We will encourage speakers to travel by train whenever possible. We appreciate that there are many reasons why this is not always possible (e.g. distance, time constraints). In this case we will offer such speakers, where the only reason for making the trip is giving the lecture, the opportunity to speak remotely. This clearly risks reducing opportunities to be a plenary speaker at an ASAB meeting for some academics, particularly those outside Europe, and could in some cases prevent conference organisers from getting the most suitable speakers. On the other hand, the travel time saved, and the reduced carbon footprint might make more speakers more willing to participate in our meetings.  
  2. Virtual participation via streaming/skype. This has clear travel benefits, but risks losing three key aspects of the meeting: 1) the opportunity to formally ask questions (e.g. putting hands up after the talk),  but this could be achieved by remote questioning and good chairing; 2) the opportunity to informally ask questions and network with the speaker (e.g. going up to the speaker after the talk) – this could be met by arranging ‘virtual chat rooms’ after each session when interested, remote delegates can quiz the speaker; 3) the opportunity to discuss talks informally (e.g. the chat over dinner, at receptions, in the pub) – this could be achieved by having a series of local hubs (e.g. Aberdeen, Bristol, Newcastle, Vienna, Paris etc) where regional delegates could congregate and network/chat amongst themselves while watching the talks.
  3. Hublet meetings. An extension of the previous idea in which there is no central meeting, but rather a series of smaller meetings, attended by regional members, each of which hosts a set of ‘real’ speakers all of whom are broadcast to the other meetings. This may present some technical problems, but it could facilitate better networking opportunities and retains the ethos of a conference for all members.
  4. Moving meetings around. Clearly, Easter and summer meetings are not fixed, but we will also trial moving the Winter meeting so that attendees from outside London can attend while making more local journeys. This may not be the case for all in every year, but we hope that over time a ‘travelling’ meeting will be accessible to a wider membership.
  5. Travel Awards to attend meetings. We are proud that ASAB is able to assist delegates, especially those with limited funding, to attend meetings to participate and present work. We want to continue this, but will be less likely to fund travel which involves flights in situations where alternative transport is available. We appreciate that this may be slower and hence we may be willing to fund extra night’s accommodation to facilitate slower journeys.
None of these solutions are perfect and all risk depriving members of some traditionally valued benefits of meetings. However, we believe that the current environmental situation is unprecedented and that it is our responsibility as informed, engaged and motivated scientists to respond to this, even if it demands drastic alterations. Over the next year or so, we’d greatly appreciate your input, comments and suggestions on the above, and your other ideas, to help inform us as we decide how ASAB should act.

Please direct comments or suggestions to Joah Madden (Meetings Secretary –


ASAB Early Career Researcher Representative

In 2019, ASAB created a new council position to represent Early Career Researchers (ECR) at ASAB council meetings. ASAB recognizes the challenges faced by ECRs in academia. ASAB already offers help for ECRs in the form of research and travel grants, as well as awards and childcare grants. As the newly appointed ECR representative, I would like to encourage ECR ASAB members to get in touch with me about topics that you would like me to bring up during future meetings.

- Stefan Fischer (

ASAB meetings

ASAB Easter Meeting 2020


The ASAB Easter Conference is aimed at postgraduate students and post-doctoral researchers studying animal behaviour, but is open to anyone with a keen interest in the field.

The 2020 conference will be held at the Biosciences Department at Swansea University, Park Campus from 15th-17th April 2020. The conference is organised by Dr Ines Fürtbauer with assistance from staff and students in the Department’s Behavioural Ecology and Evolution research theme.

You can contact the organisers by email and follow them on Twitter @ASABEaster2020.

The first day of the meeting will focus on postgraduate training workshops, with the end of that day and subsequent two days involving conference and plenary talks. Plenary speakers are: Karen Spencer, Stuart Semple, and the 2020 ASAB Christopher Barnard Award winner, Hanna Mumby.

Conference venue

Swansea is Wales' City of Culture, birthplace of Dylan Thomas and the place where custard powder was allegedly invented. Swansea University Park Campus is set in mature parkland and botanical gardens, overlooking the sandy 5 mile stretch of Swansea Bay beach. It is a great base for exploring the Gower Peninsula, designated as the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The 19 mile-long Peninsula starts at Mumbles and extends westwards, offering wild moors, limestone cliffs, and golden sandy beaches.

@SwanseaUni @swanscience

ASAB Summer Meeting 2020

16-19 August 2020, Zurich

The 10th ECBB is a joint meeting with the 2020 Summer Meeting of the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB). The conference venue is the University of Zurich, Campus Irchel. Zurich is a vibrant and friendly city of international flair and cosy atmosphere in the middle of Europe.

We will announce more information closer to the time. Sign up here for to keep up to date with announcements for this conference.

ASAB Twitter #Follow Friday

@asab_tweets will be featuring a different ASAB member each Friday as part of #FollowFriday. This is a great opportunity to highlight the research of our members and to expand our social media network, allowing animal behaviour researchers to connect with one another. If you would like to be featured on ASAB’s #FollowFriday, please click here and complete this form.

You will be asked to share your Twitter handle and three tweets about yourself and your research. Please share this with your ASAB friends, as we would love to share tweets from as many members as possible!

Offers for ASAB Members

Win a book from Ivy Press

ASAB has teamed up with publisher Ivy Press to offer you the chance to win one of two copies of “The Cat: A Natural History”, a stunning new book written by Dr Sarah Brown to be published in March 2020. 

The Cat provides a comprehensive, richly illustrated introduction to the natural and cultural history of the cat. Including a beautiful photographic directory of more than 40 breeds, the book offers an in-depth discussion of behaviour and covers anatomy and physiology, including mobility, predation skills, and the genetics of coat colours. To win a copy, send an email to saying that you heard about this in the ASAB newsletter.

20% off Animal Behaviour books from Cambridge University Press
Cambridge University press is offering 20% off books on animal behaviour for ASAB members.
Just enter the code ASABMEMBER at the checkout.

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