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IU animal behavior conference ends with science festival


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By Rachel Monnier





Children and adults alike engaged in hands-on activities with scientists at Adventures in Animal Behavior: A Real Live Science Festival.

The exhibits represented a small percentage of the research presented by scientists at Behavior 2011 — the joint meeting between the Animal Behavior Society and the International Ethological Conference which took place on IU’s campus from July 25 to July 30.

The scientists’ displays covered the behavior of a wide variety of animals from dogs to swordtail fish to different types of beetles and birds.
Nine-year-old Isabel Boston said she enjoyed participating in the activities.

“I liked the bee exhibit with the honey tasting,” she said after learning how honeybees communicate by “dancing.”

Her mother, Hannah Boston, said they had visited the WonderLab before and came specifically for the animal behavior exhibits.

Visitors learned about different kinds of frog sounds by producing their own frog calls with household items. Another display about sage-grouse mating habits allowed them to operate a robot look-a-like of the bird. 

University of Nebraska scientist Angelica Kallenberg said the joint conference involved people from all over the world, including Japan, South Africa, Australia and several European countries.

“You get to see people you read about but never think you’ll meet,” she said. “It’s kind of like seeing superstars.”

Kris Descovich came from the University of Queensland in Australia to present her research on wombats.

Anyone from undergraduate students to professors presented on a specific research topic or theory, or an experiment they did, said Descovich, who had never visited Indiana before coming to IU this week.

“The people here are so friendly,” she said. “I didn’t know what to expect, but I’m not really looking forward to leaving now.”

Emilie Snell-Rood, a scientist from the University of Minnesota, helped organize Adventures in Animal Behavior.

“I contacted WonderLab about a year ago with the idea,” she said. “I did my post-doctoral studies here in Bloomington, and I knew the space was perfect.”
Snell-Rood’s display in the WonderLab gardens taught visitors about butterflies.

“I caught them in a community garden here this week, and we’re setting them free at the end of today,” she said.

Snell-Rood asked each child at her display to pick a number, which she carefully wrote on the wings of cabbage white butterflies. This week, they will watch for their numbered butterflies around Bloomington.

“This is the first time there has been something like this,” Snell-Rood said about the festival. “I hope it will occur again in the future.”

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Zeke Fleissner-Kate, age 5, looks at butterflies at Adventures in Animal Behavior on Saturday at WonderLab. Naama Levy Buy Photos
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Anna Wright, age 5, looks at birds through binoculars during Adventures in Animal Behavior on Saturday at WonderLab. Naama Levy Buy Photos
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Joan Brewer (left) and RJ Trubitt look at an aquarium at Adventures in Animal Behavior on Saturday at WonderLab. Naama Levy Buy Photos
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Danika Wyss, age 3, uses a microscope to look at a moth wing during Adventures in Animal Behavior on Saturday at WonderLab. Naama Levy Buy Photos
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Sarah DaLone and Audrey Bayne, age 5, play with a rescue dog at Adventures in Animal Behavior on Saturday at WonderLab. Naama Levy Buy Photos

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