A call for more physiology at conservation conferences

Christine L. Madliger
Steven J. Cooke
Oliver P. Love, University of Windsor


Scientific conferences are more impactful when they foster novel ideas, create new networks, and promote inter-disciplinary collaboration. The field of conservation physiology is inherently cross-disciplinary, representing the application of physiological techniques and knowledge to address conservation issues. Ideally, knowledge transfer comes from both directions: conservation biologists seek input on physiological techniques that can contribute to the success of their programs, and physiologists collaborate with conservation biologists to plan relevant applications for their work. To assess whether the level of integration between conservation and physiology has been increasing since the formal naming of the discipline of conservation physiology in 2006, we reviewed abstracts from conferences of three societies: Society for Conservation Biology (SCB), Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB), and Society for Experimental Biology (SEB). Specifically, we searched for physiology-related keywords in abstracts from SCB meetings, and for conservation-related keywords in abstracts from SICB and SEB. Our results indicate that the percentage of presentations incorporating physiology at conservation meetings has remained relatively steady (2–3%). In contrast, the percentage of presentations citing conservation applications has been rising at both of the integrative biology societies’ meetings and has reached 4.4 and 7.9% at SICB and SEB, respectively. We provide suggestions for why there may be discrepancies between conference types and ways to encourage the presence of physiological topics at future conservation meetings.