11th International Symposium on Ostracoda in 1991

In connexion with the 11th International Symposium on Ostracoda at Deakin University, Vic. Australia I was charged with the task of running a workshop on multivariate procedures in biology, with emphasis on morphometry. A test of machinery was held a a week or so earlier at the magnificent Australian Institute of Marine Sciences (AIMS) at Cape Ferguson, Queensland. There were 12 participants in a two day workshop. I found interest to be mostly cirected towards learning how to apply multivariate statistical ecology in morphometric work. The methodology of Canonical Community Analysis of Dr. Cajo ter Braak was particularly successful. Unfortunately, the lack of sufficiently rapid math-chips tended to slow down activities. AIMS is perforce practically oriented and must be in part self-financing. I found the challenges levelled by the applied approach stimulating. One of the main fields of activity (and income) concerns research on crustaceans.

Deakin University is one of Australia's new red-brick establishments of learning. Formerly an agricultural college, emphasis again is on applied science. Deakin has a very well equipped computer laboratory (though, again, fine machines downgraded by emasculation of computing power).

The workshop was hampered by its own success. I was told that six people would participate. In actual fact, 48 of the symposium participants came, plus people from the Deakin Chemistry department. This embarassment of riches was upsetting initially, but by breaking down the workshop activities into shifts, really interested people could be accommodated. Remember, I was doing all of this on my own, although a datology student from Mauritius turned up on the second day to help me out of the goodness of his heart.

The ostracod workers were most interested in Booksteiniana. There was some interest in statistical ecology but not to the extent shown by the team in Queensland.

General Observations: The people attending my courses came from all levels of palaeontology and zoology.

All held Ph.Ds and many are holders of chairs (in the Deakin group). I found that the really interested participants were surprisingly well equipped to join the workshop. Few were not conversant with PCs and several had good backgrounds in statistics, although the standard of knowledge of multivariate work was not impressive. Conference workshops can not hope to attain the same level of precision as workshops such as Ann Arbor and offshoots. Nevertheless, they serve to confront competent scientists with working methods they might not otherwise be more than vaguely aware of.

Richard Reyment