Vision 2024: Building Bridges in Visual Ecology

Organisers: Eleanor Caves, Sönke Johnsen and Lorian Schweikert

Date: 10 - 13 June 2024

Location: Buxted Park, UK

Visual ecology, the study of how animals acquire and respond to visual information in nature, has grown rapidly over the past several decades. Research in this field spans multiple organizational levels, incorporating approaches from molecular biology, biophysics, physiology, evolutionary ecology, behavior and other disciplines. Together, this integrative field has advanced our understanding of fundamental processes, such as the neurobiological basis of behavior, dynamics of co-evolution, and species diversification through sensory drive.

Increasing numbers of scientists from disparate fields incorporate visual ecology into their research, and new techniques are frequently introduced which make the study of vision accessible even to non-experts. While exciting, this growth can make it challenging both to stay informed of developments in other sub-fields and to maintain a working understanding of a variety of new techniques. Therefore, through this Workshop, we intend to unite researchers from across the globe to bridge concepts and practices in the study of vision. The “Vision 2024″ Workshop will combine (1) research lectures by leading researchers in various fields of vision, which will summarize and showcase the state of the field; (2) tutorials by experts in various techniques and methods, allowing for group discussion and collaboration; and (3) contributed talks by promising early career researchers, highlighting new work and fresh perspectives in the field.

The specific aims of this Workshop are to:
1. Foster a dialogue across sub-fields in order to develop a theoretical and methodological common ground among visual ecologists.
1a. Explore selected technical and conceptual approaches in the study of vision, for example optical/electrophysiological techniques and models of visual capability.
1b. Highlight ecological and evolutionary approaches in the study of vision, for example phylogenetic comparative methods, as well as genomic and other molecular techniques.
2. Highlight the importance of studying vision from an integrative perspective (genetics to perception), while considering relevant factors external to the eye.
2a. Draw attention to factors beyond the retinal image that influence visual perception (for example, illusory color perception and categorical perception).
2b. Emphasize the necessity of incorporating relevant environmental, cognitive, and behavioral factors in studies of vision (e.g., in situ light environments, signal receiver psychology and physiology, previous experience, discontinuous perception, multimodal integration, etc).

The anticipated outcomes of this meeting are:
1. Generation of several Review/Commentary articles highlighting focal points of the field
2. Initiation of a conversation regarding best practices and standards for various technical and theoretical approaches in the study of vision.
3. Exploration and identification of specific knowledge gaps and areas of importance for increased research effort.
4. New collaborations between diverse group of researchers through open discussion and socialization during the event.

Overall, the Workshops offered by The Company of Biologists offer rare opportunities to bring together both experts and early-career researchers in specific fields of biology. The emphasis on diverse representation and international collaboration by these Workshops supports scientific communication on a global scale, a necessity for the future success of the field of visual ecology. We believe that the proposed Workshop offers an opportunity to help transform this field, by influencing and educating the upcoming generation of visual ecologists.


About Buxted Park

The Workshop will be held at the beautiful Buxted Park in East Sussex which dates back to the 12th century. The current house was built in 1722 by Sir Thomas Medley and is an elegant Grade II Palladian mansion set in 312 acres of parkland. Over the years it has played host to a number of high profile visitors including William Wordsworth, Winston Churchill, and George V and Queen Mary. Whilst it was a health hydro in the 1960s Gregory Peck, Dudley Moore and Marlon Brando were regular visitors.

Buxted Park is less than 25 miles from Gatwick Airport and 60 miles from Heathrow Airport. There are direct trains taking 1 hour 10 minutes from London Bridge to the village of Buxted which is only a mile away from the hotel.

Buxted Park Hotel
Station Road
East Sussex
TN22 4AY
Tel: +44 (0) 1825 733333


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About our Workshops

The Company of Biologists is widely known for its excellence in scientific publishing and it now runs a successful high level series of Workshops. The Workshops provide leading experts and early career scientists from a diverse range of scientific backgrounds with a stimulating environment for the cross fertilisation of interdisciplinary ideas. The programmes are carefully developed and are intended to champion the novel techniques and innovations that will underpin important scientific advances.


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