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On the nature of variation: random, biased and directional

3-4 October 2017


On the nature of variation: random, biased and directional is an international conference organized by the Centre for Philosophy of Science of the University of Lisbon (CFCUL). Adaptationism, i.e. the claim that natural selection provides a sufficient explanation for the evolution of most traits, pervades all aspects of biological thinking. The underlying assumption supporting adaptationism is that variation is somehow random, namely, that it is neither biased nor directional. This conference aims to provide an interdisciplinary context for uncovering and critically evaluating the rationale behind the hypothesis of variation randomness in the light of new developments in the evolutionary sciences (e.g. from the impact of instructive mutations in prokaryotes – CRISPR-Cas -, to mutation-biased divergence in molecular sequences, to the likely role of developmental biases in phenotypic divergence). Why was variation characterised as random in the first place? And what would be the case if either mutational or developmental biases were to impinge on the evolutionary process?


Invited speakers: Eva Boon (Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, Holland), Pietro Corsi (University of Oxford, UK and EHESS, Paris, France), Leonore Fleming (Utica College, USA), Gerd Müller (Universität Wien, Austria), Sahotra Sarkar (University of Texas at Austin, USA and Presidency University, Kolkata, India), Arlin Stoltzfus (Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research, NIST, USA).


Location: Lisbon, Portugal
Organizers: Elena Casetta, Silvia Di Marco, Jorge Marques da Silva, Carina Vieira da Silva & Davide Vecchi
Abstract deadline: 15 July 2017


5th Summer School in Evolutionary Developmental Biology

18-21 September 2017


Process Thinking for Evo-Devo


The overall aim of the course is to introduce process-based research approaches and conceptual frameworks to a broad range of experimentalists, theoreticians, and philosophers interested in the problem of (developmental) evolution. Relevant concepts from process philosophy and dynamical systems theory will be discussed through a number of foundational theoretical lectures. These will be complemented by specific examples of how process thinking can be and is already being used to get specific insights and new explanations for evolutionary and developmental dynamics. Morning lectures are followed by interactive discussions and reading clubs in small groups in the afternoons. Participants will also be able to present their own work to the teachers and the other students at a poster session on the first evening.


Location: Venice, Italy
Organizers: Alessandro Minelli, Gerd Müller & Giuseppe Fusco
School director: Johannes Jaeger

Cultural Evolution Society

Inaugural Cultural Evolution Society Conference

13-15 September 2017


The Cultural Evolution Society supports evolutionary approaches to culture in humans and other animals. The society welcomes all who share this fundamental interest, including in the pursuit of basic research, teaching, or applied work. Consequently, the inaugural meeting encourages contributions across a diversity of themes. Keynote speakers are Christine Caldwell (University of Stirling), Miriam Haidle (Tübingen University), Cecilia Heyes (University of Oxford) and Peter Richerson (University of California).


Location: Jena, Germany
More information & registration: conference website
Organizers: Andy Whiten, Fiona Jordan, Joe Brewer, Michele Gelfand, Michelle Kline, Olivier Morin & Russell Gray

Prinsentuin met Martinitoren

ESEB Congress

20-25 August 2017


The biennial European Society for Evolutionary Biology (ESEB) congress is one of the largest conferences in evolutionary biology. The scientific program, beginning on Monday 21 August, will consist of 8 parallel sessions running throughout the 5 days (except Wednesday afternoon). There will be some 300 oral presentations fitting within 35 symposia selected by the Scientific Committee. There will also be poster sessions associated with the different symposia, five plenary talks, and two lectures by the 2016 and 2017 winners of the John Maynard Smith Prize.


Confirmed plenary speakers are Renée Duckworth, Nicole Dubilier, Chris Jiggins, Svante Pääbo, Linda Partridge, Stephen Stearns, Andreas Wagner (tentative) and Nina Wedell (Presidential Address). There will be exhibition space throughout the congress for 1000 posters.


Due to space constraints, attendance is limited to 1500 participants, on a first-come, first-served basis. Both ESEB and SSE offer travel stipends to support participation of student members from economically disadvantaged countries.


Location: Groningen, The Netherlands
More information & registration: conference website
Organizers: Leo Beukeboom, Simon Verhulst, Bregje Wertheim, Martine Maan, Emma Plender-Hartman, Paul Steerenberg, Mariska Pater & Franjo Weissing


ISEMPH Annual Meeting

18-21 August 2017


The 2017 meeting of the International Society of Evolution, Medicine & Public Health will take place in Groningen in conjunction with the XVIth European Society for Evolutionary Biology Meeting. ISEMPH brings together scientists, teachers, clinicians, and students in the evolution and medicine community to share ideas and create new connections that will advance the field. This open meeting is designed to bridge the many different disciplines where relevant research takes place, including infectious disease, public health, genetics, anthropology, psychology, oncology, ecology, and veterinary medicine.


Location: Groningen, The Netherlands
Registration deadline: 1 July 2017
More information & registration: conference website
Organizers: Frank Rühli, Joe Alcock, Nicole Bender, Dan Blumstein, Michelle Blyth, Jacobus Boomsma, Detlev Ganten, Grazyna Jasienska, Joachim Kurtz, Jon Laman, Alejandra Nuñez de la Mora, Charlie Nunn, Robert Perlman & Gertjan van Dijk

Behaviour 2017 logo

Behaviour 2017

30 July – 4 August 2017


Behaviour 2017 is a joint meeting of the 35th International Ethological Conference (IEC) and the 2017 Summer Meeting of the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB). Behaviour 2017 will gather international professionals, academia members and students from all fields of behavior research, such as behavioural ecology, neuroethology, behavioural endocrinology, behavioural genomics, animal cognition, evolutionary biology, human ethology, applied ethology, conservation ethology, animal welfare, modelling and many others. Registration is open.


The conference program will offer an opening keynote address from Frans de Waal and invited plenary talks from distinguished researchers including Sue Healy, Hanna Kokko, Sylvie Rétaux, Gene Robinson, Raghavendra Gadagkar and David Anderson, covering topics such as the comparative study of emotions, social evolution, behavioural genomics, animal cognition, evo devo of behavioural adaptations, and modeling behavior evolution. There will also be a program of symposia, and sessions of contributed talks and posters, which will enable all delegates to present their work.


Location: Estoril, Portugal
More information: conference website 

Culture Conference logo

Culture Conference 2017: Innovation in cultural systems – an interdisciplinary meeting

25-26 May 2017


Innovation in cultural systems – an interdisciplinary meeting is a two-day interdisciplinary conference sponsored by an ASAB Interdisciplinary Workshop grant and the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham. The conference will bring together researchers from different academic backgrounds together, from archaeology, anthropology, psychology, biology, animal behaviour and philosophy, to discuss recent theories, data, and ideas on innovation.


Innovation plays a critical role in the emergence and spread of new behaviours within both non-human and human culture but its role for cultural evolution has just started to become a focus of research. During the conference, we will discuss the following questions:


  • How can innovation be defined?
  • What is the role of innovation for cultural evolution and cumulative culture?
  • What do we know about processes of innovation?
  • What makes an ‘innovator’?


Location: University of Birmingham, UK
Organizers: Elisa Bandini & Eva Reindl
Abstract deadline: 1 April 2017
Registration deadline: 1 April 2017

kli vienna

EES Workshop 1: Cause and process in evolution

11-14 May 2017


The aim of this workshop is to initiate close interaction and exchange between philosophers of science and biologists, both within the research programme and outside it, to reflect on the nature of causation in biological evolution. The EES has a different perspective on causation in evolution, and ascribes a greater range of processes evolutionary significance, than traditional perspectives. The workshop will set out to scrutinize these claims, with both philosophers (acting as independent arbiters) and non-project members (including non-sympathizers) present to ensure good debate.


The nature of these differences will be discussed and their implications for the structure of evolutionary theory will be drawn up. In addition to leading to a key synthetic publication, the discussion will effectively provide a guide for continued exchange between conceptual analysis and empirical and theoretical projects within the wider research programme, such that each can benefit from the other, in terms of interpretation and communication of results.


Twitter #CAPIE2017

Blog posts by Wim Hordijk, Jan Baedke and Massimo Pigliucci

KLI event webpage and photo gallery


Location: KLI, Vienna, Austria
Organizers: Tobias Uller & Kevin Laland

Royal Society London

New trends in evolutionary biology: biological, philosophical and social science perspectives

7-9 November 2016


Developments in evolutionary biology and adjacent fields have produced calls for revision of the standard theory of evolution, although the issues involved remain hotly contested. This scientific discussion meeting, organised in partnership with the British Academy, presented these developments and arguments and encouraged cross-disciplinary discussion. This involved the humanities and social sciences in order to provide further analytical perspectives and explore the social and philosophical implications.


Location: The Royal Society, London, UK
Organizers: Denis Noble, Nancy Cartwright, Sir Patrick Bateson, John Dupré & Kevin Laland

students in discussion

Complex Systems Summer School 2017

11 June – 7 July 2017


The Complex Systems Summer School offers an intensive four week introduction to complex behavior in mathematical, physical, living, and social systems for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and professionals in the sciences and social sciences. The school is for participants who seek background and hands-on experience to help them prepare to conduct interdisciplinary research in areas related to complex systems.


The program consists of an intensive series of lectures, laboratories, and discussion sessions focusing on foundational ideas, tools, and current topics in complex systems research. These include nonlinear dynamics and pattern formation, scaling theory, information theory and computation theory, adaptation and evolution, network structure and dynamics, adaptive computation techniques, computer modeling tools and specific applications of these core topics to various disciplines. In addition, participants will formulate and carry out team projects related to topics covered in the program.


Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
Organizer: Santa Fe Institute

PSGB orangutan

PSGB 50th Anniversary Meeting

27-29 November 2017


The Primate Society of Great Britain (PSGB) celebrates its 50th anniversary this year with a meeting at the Royal Geographical Society, London in November. Speakers include Jane Goodall, Frans de Waal, Robin Dunbar, Bob Martin and Russ Mittermeier (scientific program here). This 2-day event includes talks, round-table discussions, posters, and social events. Registration is now open.


Location: London, United Kingdom
Abstract deadline: 4 August 2017

ASAB peacock

ASAB Winter Meeting 2017

7-8 December 2017

Sexual Selection: Do We Still Need To Test The Alternatives?


The 30 years since the publication of Bradbury and Andersson’s landmark “Sexual selection: testing the alternatives” has seen a wealth of new empirical data on the mechanisms and patterns of sexual selection, alongside major theoretical advances. However, some key concerns remain, including what drives the evolution of mate choice and how sexual selection and natural selection interact. Moreover, the very definition of sexual selection remains contested. In this meeting, the latest findings in sexual selection will be explored, in terms of both theory and experiment, to chart progress in understanding this most beguiling of evolutionary mechanisms, and to map the way forward for the next generation of sexual selection researchers.


Organizers: Nina Wedell & David Shuker

The Generalized Theory of Evolution logo

The generalized theory of evolution

31 January – 3 February 2017


The generalized theory of evolution aims to gather answers to frequently raised questions within the framework of a generalized theory of evolution, and to explore recent attempts to move beyond mere qualitative theorizing in the domain of generalized evolutionary systems. By bringing together researchers with a common interest but with different backgrounds and toolboxes, it hopes to inspire interdisciplinary discussions and new collaborations. For more information, please visit the conference website.


Keynote Speakers: Daniel Dennett (Tufts University), Eva Jablonka (Tel Aviv University), Ruth Mace (University College London), Alex Mesoudi (University of Exeter), Thomas Reydon (University of Hannover), Gerhard Schurz (University of Duesseldorf) & Brian Skyrms (University of California, Irvine).


Location: Düsseldorf, Germany
Organizers: Karim Baraghith, Christian Feldbacher-Escamilla, Corina Strößner & Gerhard Schurz
Abstract deadline: 1 September 2017
Registration deadline: 5 January 2018

Santa Fe Institute, Santa Fe, USA

EES Workshop 2: Integrating development and inheritance

13-15 February 2018


This workshop will discuss:
(i) the historical origins of the separation of development and inheritance and their description in genetic terms, and how this shaped the development of research programmes within evolutionary biology,
(ii) the possible implications of alternative conceptualizations, and the re-integration of this relationship, that are emerging through recent advances in the biological sciences, and are emphasized by the EES, and
(iii) how experimental work and mathematical modelling best can proceed under constructive views of development and inheritance and the implication it has for how to assign fitness and establish adaptation.


Participants will contribute to a special edition of a relevant journal.


Location: SFI, Sante Fe, USA
Organizers: Kevin Laland & Tobias Uller

EHBEA logo

EHBEA 2018

4-7 April 2018


The European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association (EHBEA) conferences aim to provide a much needed interdisciplinary European forum for discussing evolutionary research applied to the behavioural sciences, broadly interpreted. Details of the 2018 conference will be announced shortly.


Location: Pecs, Hungary

HBES logo

30th Annual HBES Conference

4-7 July 2018


The Human Behavior and Evolution Society (HBES) host their 30th annual conference in July 2018. Details to be announced.


Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Evolution Montpellier 2018 logo

II Joint Congress on Evolutionary Biology

19-22 August 2018


ESEB is delighted to welcome you to the Second Joint Congress on Evolutionary Biology. Joint Congresses take place every six years and bring together four of the world’s largest academic societies in the field of evolutionary biology: the European Society for Evolutionary Biology (ESEB), the American Society of Naturalists (ASN), the Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE) and the Society of Systematic Biologists (SSB). There will be 78 symposia during the meeting, running as parallel half/full-day sessions. For more information and a list of symposia, please visit the conference website.


Location: Montpellier, France
Abstract deadline: 15 January 2018

Santa Fe Institute, Santa Fe, USA

EES Workshop 3: Directional biases in evolution

mid-November 2018


The aim of this workshop is to reflect anew on the processes that give phenotypic evolution directionality. Traditionally, only natural selection was granted a creative role in evolution. However, changing concepts of development, and of the interaction between organism and environment, are increasingly leading researchers to consider a broader range of processes as potentially imposing directionality on evolution, including the evolution of adaptations.


Key foci for the workshop will be developmental bias, niche construction, and the role of plasticity in generating these biases. The workshop will be informed by key theoretical and experimental studies conducted within the wider research programme. Participants will contribute to an edited volume on this topic.


Location: SFI, Sante Fe, USA
Organizers: Tobias Uller & Kevin Laland

university of cambridge kings college chapel west

Evolutionary Biology in the 21st Century: towards an Extended Synthesis

dates to be announced


As the climax to the programme of research initiated by the grant, we will organize a major international conference, to be held in Cambridge, UK, which will feature a program of talks and poster sessions, spanning four days. The conference will be focused on new developments in the biological sciences and their implications for understanding the process of evolution. It will be open to all researchers who wish to present their own work, subject to their submitted abstracts for talks and posters being accepted by the organizing committee.


Location: Cambridge, UK
Organizers: Kevin Laland & Tobias Uller

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