SYMPOSIUM I: RECONCILING SCIENTIFIC COLLECTING WITH CONSERVATION
Scientific collecting is a controversial topic, not just in mammalogy but in all vertebrate and, increasingly, many non-vertebrate disciplines. The collection of intact voucher specimens for permanent curation in natural history museums generally involves euthanizing wild-caught individuals and has become particularly contentious in recent years, with calls for its cessation in all but a few exceptional cases. Concerns among those opposed to collecting generally fall into one or more of four non-mutually exclusive categories: (1) ethical considerations, (2) the effects of collecting on the long-term viability of a population or species, (3) technological advances that purportedly render collecting obsolete, and (4) the belief that, in some regions and/or taxa, taxonomic diversity has been sufficiently described and delimited. Implicit in the latter two is the assumption that modern-day collecting is conducted primarily or solely for the purposes of taxonomic description, a misconception that has far-reaching consequences for a broad range of scientific inquiry. A plurality of these concerns is often advanced to argue that collecting is incompatible with conservation, yet many who collect argue just the opposite. The American Society of Mammalogists includes members who actively collect specimens; use curated specimens (and/or their associated data) archived in museums for research and/or teaching; curate or manage these collections; serve on their Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (or this society’s ACUC); review manuscripts and proposals that involve scientific collecting; and/or have concerns or unanswered questions about collecting. The topic should therefore appeal to a diverse range of our members, and the 2019 venue’s proximity to the world’s largest mammal collection makes this a timely opportunity. The overarching goal of the symposium is to educate our members about the role of scientific collecting in the context of conservation and to foster an open dialogue on this evolving debate. Organizers: Link Olson and Virginie Millien.
SYMPOSIUM II: MAMMAL DIVERSITY FROM GENBANK TO REDLIST
At the heart of mammalogy are two pillars of naturalistic study commonly overlooked in modern databases of global biodiversity: museum specimens and specimen-based taxonomy. Natural history specimens have been the foundation of zoological nomenclature since its inception, and continue their broad relevance today—not only for taxonomists working to delimit species, but for all biologists working to integrate our rapidly changing understanding of biodiversity and the tree of life to key conservation and sustainability challenges. Critically, current reliance upon taxonomic names rather than individual specimens for indexing biodiversity data poses major risks to data integrity, especially when species are divided or joined together. At best, taxonomic revisions lead to uncertainty about species-level traits; at worst, they impact global conservation action or inaction. For example, estimates of species’ geographic range and population density form the basis for IUCN RedList decisions on species endangerment, yet there are no simple mechanisms for re-calculating geographic ranges to reflect the best science. Similarly, GenBank allows uploaders to link DNA sequences to museum specimens, but since few users use this field correctly most sequences are indexed by name only. Fortunately, digital tools are at the ready to fully integrate specimen-based taxonomy across fields of biodiversity science, promising broad rewards. Organizers: Nathan S. Upham and Luis Ruedas.
The Andes of Ecuador present some of the highest diversity of mammals in the world. To highlight this great mammalian diversity, we propose to have six speakers who have extensive experience with the mammals of the Ecuadorean Andes. All the speakers are experienced in field mammalogy of the Andes. They have worked on projects from the lower tropical forested slopes to the high páramo of the Andes. All of the speakers are authors of many journal articles and/or books on the mammalian fauna of the Andes. An effort was made to include speakers from diverse backgrounds and countries. The Ecuadorean Andes are a biodiversity hotspot because of its tropical location, strong zonation of ecosystems and proximity of the North America interchange of mammals. Recent contributions of work in the Ecuadorean Andes include many new species including newly described members of opossums, bats, and rodents, but also the first new carnivore in the Americas in thirty years, and new species in the little known order of shrew-opossums, Paucituberculata. This is an exciting and fascinating region for the study of Mammalogy. Many other recent studies and analysis of phylogenetic data have strongly suggested that many new species have yet to be described. The wide array of new taxa and a region with over 430 species of mammals should make this symposium of interest to many mammalogists in many disciplines of our science. Organizers: Thomas E. Lee, Jr. and John D. Hanson.
SYMPOSIUM IV: MURINAE AS A MODEL SYSTEM
The Murinae comprises over 11% of mammalian species, and includes the two most important mammalian model species for genomic and biomedical research (lab mouse and rat), as well as some of the most ecologically and economically destructive invasive species (black rat and Norwegian rat). However, murines are much more than their famous model and invasive species suggest to the public and many biologists. In addition, to their taxonomic diversity, the Murinae spans an incredible breadth of ecological and phenotypic diversity representing a wide range of diets (omnivores, vermivores, folivores, etc.), locomotory modes (arboreal to semi-aquatic), reproductive strategies (r- and k-selected), body sizes (three orders of magnitude), pathogen loads, and many other dimensions. This incredible ecological diversity evolved rapidly over the last 14 million years as the group spread across the Old World. Much of this diversity (~70%) resides in the Indo- Australian region and arose through a process of repeated colonization of islands and subsequent diversification. This history of replicated radiations provides a natural experiment for understanding how lineages, genomes, and phenotypes diversify in an ecological context. Organizers: Jake Esselstyn and Kevin Rowe.
SYMPOSIUM V: ECOLOGY, EVOLUTION, AND BEHAVIOR OF URBAN MAMMALS
Urbanization is a pervasive cause of landscape change around the world. This phenomenon has resulted in a surge of interest in studying mammalian responses in and around cities. These new research programs on urban mammals address behavior, physiology, community composition, disease dynamics, gene flow, and adaptive evolution, as well as human dimensions of biodiversity conservation. This symposium explores mammalogy research across urban landscapes in North and South America, from city centers to urban sprawl, to understand the ways in which cities influence both native and non-native species. Speakers will highlight the unique stressors and selection pressures imposed by cities, as well as the effects of altered habitat and resource availability on mammal distributions, ecology, and evolution. This symposium is particularly suitable for the ASM 2019 meeting because it will showcase an important new area of research, urban mammalogy, at ASM’s centennial meeting. Additionally, the symposium topic fits well with the meeting location in a major American city. Organizers: Matthew Combs, Carol Henger, and Jason Munshi-South.