Presentation on theme: "Grand Challenges for Organismal Biology Animal Behavior Society Representative James C. Ha, PhD University of Washington, Seattle."— Presentation transcript:
Grand Challenges for Organismal Biology Animal Behavior Society Representative James C. Ha, PhD University of Washington, Seattle
The Age of Integration The recent advances in biology have been reductionist: neuroscience, genetics, and epigenetics. We propose that these great advances are best understood when these processes are viewed in the context of the functioning organism. Integration of recent discoveries will be the key to future advances.
Animal Behavior Behavior lies at the interface of internal biology and external influences. Specifically, behavior is a conduit by which internal processes are exposed to selection forces.
Genomics A gene sequence is of little interest until we know something about its function. In many cases that function can only be understood in the context of the whole organism. Often that function is linked to the organism’s behavior.
Epigenetics Evolution is a change in frequencies of phenotypes over generations This change need not be confined to simple changes in gene sequence. Description of figure (C) A pseudocolor image of representative sections showing relevant brain regions from in situ hybridization studies examining GR mRNA expression in the dorsal hippocampus and CRF mRNA expression in the PVNh in the unmanipulated adult female offspring (F3) of high LG- ABN/NH, high LG-ABN/H, low LG-ABN/NH, and low LG- ABN/NH (F2) mothers (n 5 4 per group). High/Low refers to LG-ABN, H/NH refers to whether or not there was post- natal handling of pups (Francis et al. 1999, Science).
Neuroeconomics Simple assumptions of optimality in animal and human decision-making falter as in both systems a variety of factors internal and external to the organism complicate predictions based upon optimization of a simple currency (fitness or $$). Animal models have lead to a new field of economics in which game theory and studies of the brain’s reward system are combined to attempt to understand sometimes “irrational” human behavior in the market place.
Integrative Biology The future of biology is in integrating the recent advances in reductionist fields. The focus of this integration must be the organism. This is where the function of most internal processes is most apparent and this is the level at which selection usually acts. Thus it is crucial that organismal biology, among all fields, be a critical part of all training and research in the life sciences.