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The research on reproduction strategies has always been a highlighted area of Hungarian biologists’ interest. The first symposium of the Behavioural Ecology Research Group established by Tamás Székely at the Department of Evolutionary Zoology and Human Biology , University of Debrecen, was organized for the discussion of this topic in 1989. The rapid development of molecular methods, genomics, filogenetic and plant traits databases and biological dispersal models in the past three decades has placed the investigation of reproduction on a whole new foundation.
The Department of Evolutionary Zoology and Human Biology and the Department of Ecology, University of Debrecen, have organized a conference together “Reproduction strategies from genes to societies – Frontiers in animal and plant reproduction research”. At the conference renowned researchers of the international academia present the latest results and international trends of research into reproduction strategies, and the event also provides an opportunity for an international debut for young researchers.
In his welcome speech László Csernoch, vice-rector for scientific affairs highlighted that the event anticipates broad international interest, and is one of the two UD Symposiums this year, thus receiving significant support from the university. Concerning the topic, he commented on the increasing role of multidisciplinary research and the need for relevant responses to particular questions.
“Being a scholar of life sciences, personally I am also interested in questions like ‘To what extent is a trait determined by genetic background or social environment, and what correlation can be found between them?’ At this event participants have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with various standpoints”, remarked the vice-rector.
A plenary lecture of the four-day programme was given by Ruth Mace, professor of anthropology and evolutionary biology at University College London, whose main research field is the evolution of human cultures, languages, and social systems. In her lecture “Evolution of families: Using behavioural ecology to understand cultural evolution in humans” she discussed the intriguing frontiers of behavioural ecology, evolution and cultural anthropology, and also reviewed types of Chinese families and the division of workload among them.
Professor Tamás Székely, leader of the international “Élvonal” programme and organizer of the event recited the beginnings of the Behavioural Ecology Research Group, and went on to talk about the importance of reproduction strategies and possible complications.
On Friday Peter Grant and Rosemary Grant, evolutionary biologists of Princeton University, world-known researchers of Darwin’s finches held a lecture on the sexual selection of finches. Besides them several renowned scholars of international evolutionary biology and ecology reviewed their researches: Ran Nathan, professor of Hebrew University of Jerusalem, one of the world’s leading biological dispersal researchers, founder of the field of movement ecology; Andy Green, research professor of Estación Biologica de Donana, who investigates the non-conventional aspects of plant and animal dispersal, his main field is the role of birds in the dispersal of plants and animals; Araxi Urrutia, researcher of Bath University, geneticist, evolutionary biologist, exploring the evolutionary change of genome structure, and its effect on phenotypic traits; Hans Hoffman, professor of University of Texas Austin, neurobiologist, investigating the neural and molecular background of decision-making in social environment, and its evolutionary aspects.