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Ciencias marinas

versión impresa ISSN 0185-3880

Cienc. mar vol.46 no.4 Ensenada dic. 2020  Epub 16-Abr-2021 


A brief history of international meetings of the Western Society of Naturalists

Una breve historia de las reuniones internacionales de la Western Society of Naturalists

Diana L. Steller1 

Julio Lorda2 

Rodrigo Beas-Luna2 

Michael S. Foster1 

1Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, San José State University.

2Universidad Autónoma de Baja California.

“The object of this society shall be the stimulation of general interest in the fields of biological science. The society shall be broad enough in scope and liberal enough in its organization to meet the needs of all naturalists.”

Western Society of Naturalists By-laws, 1916

Beginning in 1916, the Western Society of Naturalists (WSN) has had an annual meeting goal to be “the provision of opportunities for presentation and discussion of problems of common interest to biologists,” and it still attempts to “exer cise an integrative function which cannot be performed by more specialized organizations.” Since the society’s incep tion, the meeting location has varied annually along the coun tries and states of western North America, namely the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Varying the meeting location increases attendance opportunities geographically among members. The society has historically encouraged interna tional attendance leading to enhanced research collaborations and student exchanges.

In the United States, meetings have been held in 7 western states, with the majority (82%) of meeting loca tions being in California and Washington (Foster et al. 1999). There have been 2 meetings in Mexico and 3 in British Columbia, Canada, and 1 meeting, for the first time, held online in 2020. In 1996 the first Mexican meeting was held in La Paz, Baja California Sur, in collaboration with the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur. It enhanced the cross-border exchange of ideas and both expanded ongoing and initiated new fruitful collaborations. These exchanges continued when the 2019 WSN meeting was held in Ensenada, Baja California, in collaboration with the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California from 31 October to 3 November, 2019. The impressive expansion of Mexican research by Mexican scientists was highlighted in the special plenary session by Hector Reyes Bonilla entitled “Marine research in northwest Mexico: past, present and future” and the wide variety of presentations. The need for ongoing international collaboration in marine research was emphasized in the presidential symposium presentations by Rodrigo Beas-Luna, “Oceans don’t have borders, science shouldn’t either,” and Sergio Navarrete, “The importance of cultural diversity for sustainability and the successful devel opment of inter-disciplinary studies.” WSN is committed to spatially varying annual meeting locations, including peri odically at international venues.

“No doubt the true and most important history of WSN occurs every year but is not recorded-the ideas stimulated and tested, collaborations formed, careers launched, and friendships made and revisited as a result of papers presented and the informal social interactions that follow. The Western Society of Naturalists continues its long tradition of stimu lating interest in and understanding nature, and adjusting atti tudes” (Foster et al 1999).

International locations of WSN meetings since 1916

1974: University of British Columbia, Vancouver & Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada (Presi dent: G. Frank Gwilliam).

1983: Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada (President: John Pearse).

1996: Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur, La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico (President: Gregor Cailliet).

2008: University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (President: Kathy Ann Miller).

2019: Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico (President: Brian Tissot).


Foster MS., Hansen GI., Amrein YUL. 1999. History of the Western Society of Naturalists. Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Contributions in Science, No. 2. Goleta (CA): Wilson Printing. p. 42. [ Links ]

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