Invited keynote speakers were Kristian Fauchald on advances in systematics, Lisa Levin and Michel Bhaud on reproductive and larval ecology, Wilfried Westheide on annelid evolution, Colin Hermans in memory of the late Ralph Smith, Don Reish and Mike Hadfield on pollution and fouling. (These distinguished people are wearing prize-winners' red rosettes and sitting in the front row of the group photo.) Contributed oral papers were marshalled into one or more sessions on systematics and phylogeny, biogeography and systematics, reproductive ecology, community ecology, functional morphology, population and community ecology, ecology and functional morphology [Abstracts of all papers and posters are available]. A scan of the authors shows that collaborative research across nationalities is thriving at present, and no doubt will grow further from the stimulation and exchange of ideas created by the meeting.
THE INTERNATIONAL POLYCHAETOLOGY ASSOCIATION plans the polychaete conferences. At present the association is mostly an ad hoc group of whoever turns up at the last meeting (the membership fee is covered by conference fees). However, there is a constitution and an advisory council of volunteers who represent geographic regions. There was a rather hurried business meeting on the last day of the conference as one post conference tour left a day early (soft births [sic] on the train to Xian). Chairperson Pat Hutchings proposed, and the meeting accepted by acclamation, Kristian Fauchald as her replacement, with Nechama Ben- Eliahu (Israel), Franklin Carrasco (Chile), Andy Mackie (UK), Pei-Yuan Qian (Hong Kong) as new councillors. Pat mentioned a nomenclatural sub- committee was to be established to deal with polychaete concerns regarding the International Commission of Zoological Nomenclature and the draft 4th edition of the Code. There was a suggestion that the next meeting might invite more representation from researchers on marine groups with annelid affinities. Then democracy was fully unleashed as we heard presentations on behalf of the competing venues for the next conference. These were Woods Hole in USA (James Blake per Rudolf Scheltema), the island of Helgoland in Germany (Wilfried Westheide), Curitiba in Brazil (Paulo Lana). A paper ballot revealed (surprise, surprise!) that we lucky people who had managed to come all the way to China had voted strongly in favour of going all the way to Brazil. -- GBR.