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Focus group: How important is ecological space to odor space?

Rapporteur: Shannon Olsson

Abstract

Much of our understanding of odor spaces comes from studies of very few species. However, chemical signals are ubiquitous, and the role of odor space for one species could be very different than another species even if they live in similar environments. Essentially, I would really like to hear from the leaders in the field  about how important they think understanding an organism's natural behavior and environment is to understanding odor space in general.  At what point (if any) does our understanding of chemical, physical, sensory or perceptual space require an understanding of ecology? When should we work our way out from cells to networks to behavior to ecology, and when might we reassess our views on olfaction through a better understanding of the odor space that organisms have evolved to detect?