NVG Meeting 2021

Annual NVG meeting 2021 and PhD WORKSHOP
In Egmond aan Zee

Wednesday 24 November  – Friday 26 November

The 2021 NVG meeting will be held from Wednesday November 24th to Friday November 26th in conference hotel ‘Zuiderduin’ in Egmond aan Zee, The Netherlands (WEBSITE).

The meeting starts on Wednesday evening, after the PhD workshop (see below) and will go untill Friday afternoon. Highlights of this meeting are the keynote lectures, including the Brill Baerends Lecture and the Dobberke lecture for which internationally renowned behavioural biologists are invited. This year the Brill Baerends Lecture on Wednesday will be presented by Prof. Steve Nowicki. The Dobberke Lecture will be presented by Dr. Miriam Knörnschild. More information on the keynote speakers and lectures can be found below. 

There is ample space for everyone to present, we always try to fit most of the talks into our program. So register your abstract as soon as possible.

In order to register please fill in your details using this online form. Early bird registration (20,- discount) ends October 25th, registration for accommodation ends November 4th, submission of talks and posters abstracts ends November 8th.

Schedule for the 2021 NVG meeting:

20.00 –            Dobberke Lecture by Dr. Mirjam Knörnschild

09.00 – 10.45  Session on social networks + keynote lecture by Dr. Lysanne Snijders (WUR)
10.45 – 11.15  Coffee & Tea
11.15 – 12.30  Open session
12.30 – 13.30  Lunch
13.30 – 14.30  Posters
14.30 – 16.15  Session on animal cognition+ keynote lecture by Dr. Frederick Verbruggen (UGent)
16.15 – 16.30  Coffee & Tea
16.30 – 17.45  Open session
17.45 – 19.00  General assembly
19.00 – 20.00  Dinner
20.00 –            Baerends lecture by Prof. Steve Nowicki

09.00 – 10.45  Session on communication I: chemical + keynote lecture by Dr. Emily Burdfiel-Steel (UvA) 
10.45 – 11.15  Coffee & Tea
11.15 – 12.30  Session on communication II: acoustic and visual communication     
12.30 – 13.30  Lunch
13.30 – 14.00  Prizes
14.00 End of NVG meeting              

Schedule for the PhD workshop:

09.45 – 10.00   Coffee & Tea
10.00 – 10.45   Lecture by Prof. Steve Nowicki
10.45 – 11.00   Coffee & Tea
11.00 – 11.45   Lecture by Dr. Mirjam Knörnschild
11.45 – 13.00   Lunch
13.00 – 14:30   Student presentations
14.30 – 14.45   Coffee & Tea
14.45 – 16.00   Student presentations
16:00 – 17:30   Round table discussion

The Brill Baerends Lecture by Prof. Steve Nowicki

Steve Nowicki did his PhD at Cornell University in 1984, and became assistant professor at Duke University (USA) in 1989, where he is now professor of Biology, Psychology, and Neurobiology. Steve Nowicki started to work on animal communication in the early eighties, looking at the individual differences in vocal traits of chickadees. Since then, vocal communication has been his major research interest. His research targeted various aspects of animal communication, both in the field and in the lab, and using a variety of approaches – ultimately covering cover the full range of Tinbergen’s famous four questions. The centrals three themes of his research are: song learning in birds, the reliability of signals in communication, and more recently categorical perception, which has led to a series of highly interesting findings in the past years.

Title of the lecture: Categorical perception and the evolution of signaling systems

A common assumption in studies of animal communication is that continuous variation in a signal is perceived in an equally continuous fashion by the signal receiver.  This assumption is rarely tested, however, and recent evidence suggests that many animal signals may be perceived in a categorical fashion. The hallmarks of categorical perception are that (1) continuous stimuli are labeled as belonging to discrete categories and (2) discrimination of stimuli within a category is poorer than discrimination across category boundaries.  In this seminar, I present data demonstrating the role of categorical perception in two very different signaling systems – song in swamp sparrows (Melospiza georgiana) and beak coloration in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) – and I discuss the significance of these findings for our understanding of the evolution of assessment signaling in general.

Dobberke lecture by Dr. Mirjam Knörnschild

Mirjam Knörnschild finished her doctorate at the University of Erlangen-Nurenberg in 2009. After research stays at Ulm University and the Free University Berlin, she became a staff scientist at the Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Research in 2019, where she is the head of the Behavioral Ecology and Bioacoustics Lab. She is also a Research Associate of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. Mammalian vocal communication has always been at the center of her research interests, with a special emphasis on vocal production learning and its underlying ontogenetic processes in bats. As a behavioral ecologist, she works predominantly with wild animals in their natural habitats.

Title of the lecture: Vocal production learning in bats – from babbling pups to singing adults

Only few mammals are capable of learning and modifying their vocalizations based on the auditory feedback of conspecifics. Bats are well suited to study mammalian vocal production learning (VPL) because their ability to echolocate is a prerequisite for sophisticated vocal control and the taxon’s speciose nature enables phylogenetically controlled, comparative studies on the mechanisms and functional significance of mammalian VPL. In my talk, I highlight recent findings on VPL in bats, with a special focus on the greater sac-winged bat Saccopteryx bilineata. I have studied this bat species for over 15 years in the wild, which has resulted in detailed knowledge of its vocal capabilities. Pups learn to sing by imitating songs of adult males during ontogeny. Vocal imitation commences during conspicuous babbling bouts which contain various elements from the adult vocal repertoire, including precursors of male song. Pup babbling bouts show a strong resemblance to the babbling of human infants and the plastic song of young songbirds. Since vocal imitation is not completely accurate, acoustic differences accumulate over time, thus resulting in distinct local song dialects. Song dialects are behaviorally relevant for females and may thus constitute effective reproductive barriers that limit gene flow between adjacent populations. My lab currently studies whether song dialects in S. bilineata – as learned and culturally transmitted traits – can accelerate the speciation process.

Keynote lecture by Dr. Lysanne Snijders

Title of the lecture: Getting social with guppies: social facilitation of food patch discovery in the wild.

Keynote lecture by Dr. Frederick Verbruggen

Title of the lecture: Inhibition of impulsive and inappropriate actions: a novel ‘eco-devo’ approach.

Keynote lecture by Dr. Emily Burdfiel-Steel

Title of the lecture: Chemicals and colours: uncovering the chemical signals maintaining a colour polymorphism.