The 18th International Symposium on Ostracoda (18th ISO)

The 18th International Symposium on Ostracoda was organized by Todd Oakley and his team at the University of California, Santa Barbara (USA) from the 27th to the 31st of August 2017. Before the symposium, the UCSB team set up an excellent website ( and organized a sophisticated t-shirt sale to provide funds in order to facilitate students’ attendance of the symposium (Fig. 1).

The symposium gathered together research scientists from all continents, from disciplines ranging from biology to geology, and with expertise on all geological periods from the Cambrian to the present (Fig. 2). The subtitle of the symposium synthetizes very well the multidisciplinary approach that characterizes the research about Ostracoda “Ostracoda - Evolving Witnesses of Changing Environments”.

Following the tradition of the ISO symposiums, two field trips were organized. The pre-symposium field trip visited the site of the Miocene Barstow formation Konservat Lagerstatte in Southern California where freshwater ostracods and other arthropods can be found inside nodules. The post-symposium field trip was devoted to the sampling of living marine ostracods, Podocopoda and Myodocopida, and was based at the Wrigley Marine Lab in the Catalina Island.

The weekend before the symposium started, two workshops were organized. On Saturday, Finn Viehberg and Koen Martens led the “African Ostracod Taxonomic Harmonization Workshop”. On Sunday, the NEOTOMA/DIVA-GIS Database and Software Workshop took place thanks to Alison Smith, David Horne and Brian Curry. Both hands-on workshops were welcomed by the community and they were an excellent opportunity to learn new methodologies and discuss future collaborative projects.

Sunday evening the ice breaker party gathered all the thirsty conveners in the De Anza Courtyard at the Manzanita Village, where most of the participants were lodged. The relaxed atmosphere and the pleasant weather made the party more similar to a reunion of good friends, full of expectations for the forthcoming event.

On Monday, the scientific sessions started at the Multicultural Center. Prof. Scott Hodges welcomed all of us as vice-chair of the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology (EEMB) at the University of California, followed by the president of IRGO, Finn Viehberg and the organizer of the conference, Todd Oakley. The keynote lecture “Flapper Valve and Hayfork: the gastric mill of Bairdioidea” was given by Renate Matzke Karasz on behalf of Rosalie Maddocks who was forced to stay in Houston by hurricane Harvey. On Monday, 18 of the 53 oral presentations were presented in three different sections: paleoecology and diversity, brackish Ostracoda, ecology and biodiversity.

Some ostracod workers take an important part in the life of the community, devoting much of their time to tasks that are not awarded by high impact publications or scientific evaluation. They put their skills to serve the community and their generosity has helped our community to grow and to bond strongly. For these reasons the IRGO committee decided to revive the “Order of the Amphidont Hinge” and to acknowledge Rosalie Maddocks, Elly Browsers, as well as late Eugen Kempf for their major and distinguished contributions to the science of Ostracodology (Fig. 3). Alan Lord instead was awarded a special prize for attending almost all the ISO meetings during the last 50 years. He has enjoyed a long and successful career, becoming a pillar of our community to whom the others have all come to rely on (Fig. 4).

Tuesday started with the keynote address by Jim Morin on “Luminaries of the reef: courtship displays by luminescent Ostracods in the Caribbean” and continued with the three sessions, i.e. Paleontology, evolution and development; Courtship, reproduction and sexual selection; Paleoenvironment. A great way to end the second day of the symposium was to attend the public screening of the award-winning David Attenborough’s film “Life that glows” at the Hatlen Theatre. We were all bewitched by these tiny bioluminescent creatures, including ostracods, and delighted by the art of inspired scientific storytelling and advanced filming technology. We also had the opportunity to ask questions to a panel of researchers and photographers involved in the making of the movie, including our colleagues Jim Morin and Gretchen Gerrish, discovering all the technical difficulties that made bioluminescence filming impossible only few years ago.

Each ISO meeting has been characterized by a mid-symposium excursion that represents the opportunity for the organizers to show off the best features their region has to offer and for the participants to gather in a less formal way. The participants could choose between wine tasting and whale watching. Both groups had a wonderful time, sipping a range of the best wines produced in the Santa Barbara area or watching a thousand common dolphins playing around before observing the magnificence of the blue whales. In the afternoon, the poster session with 57 poster presentations was organized in the Manzanita Village around the Las Encinas Quad Lawn where the social dinner took place. There was enough time to discuss the posters while drinking local beers (we were surprised to find also Icelandic beers at the bar) and noshing on appetizers.

The Sylvester-Bradley award for best poster of a young researcher (sponsored by IRGO) was given to Yuki Fujihara et al. for their poster on “Palaeoenvironmental changes in Suwa Bay, Oki Islands, Japan, during the Holocene recorded by ostracode assemblages”; the award for the best poster of all contributors (sponsored by the Society of Friends of IRGO) was granted to Toshiaki Irizuki et al. for their poster on “Temporal changes of the southwestern Japanese ostracode faunas with relation to the Miocene formation and development of the Sea of Japan”. The social dinner ended a perfect day, and the ostracod community enjoyed the food, the drinks and the beautiful setting, beside each other company.

The last day of the symposium was organized in the three sessions: paleoenvironment, neotropical Ostracoda, and biostratigraphy. Before closing the symposium, the IRGO business meeting took place. The Sylvester-Bradley award for best oral presentation of a young researcher (sponsored by The Micropalaeontological Society) was given to Anna B. Jöst for her excellent presentation “Deep-sea ostracod diversity and faunal distribution in the sub-polar North Atlantic”. The new IRGO officers were nominated (Chair Moriaki Yasuhara; vice-Chair Vincent Perrier; Secretary Ilaria Mazzini, treasurer Renate Matzke-Karasz, past chair Finn Viehberg) and the location of the next ISO19 has been voted. In four years time we will meet in Lyon (France), invited by our colleagues Vincent Perrier, Marie-Beatrice Forel and Sylvie Crasquin.

Many thanks to Todd Oakley and his team at the Oakley Evolution Lab in UCSB for organizing such a successful symposium, relaxed but at the same time full of scientific content.

Ilaria Mazzini, Rome

IRGO secretary 2017-2021




We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential for the operation of the site, while others help us to improve this site and the user experience (tracking cookies). You can decide for yourself whether you want to allow cookies or not. Please note that if you reject them, you may not be able to use all the functionalities of the site.