Steve's Herpetological Blog

An insight into the life of Steve, his research and the many books he reads

#SciFri

#SciFri: 9th World Congress of Herpetology

Recently I was lucky enough to present both a talk and a poster at the 9th World Congress of Herpetology in Dunedin, New Zealand. The location for the Congress was the University of Otago, which is somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit. I’d just like to take the time before we get stuck in with things to thank my funding body (ENVEAST) for supplying the funding needed for me to attend. Without you guys, I would have missed out on the opportunity of my life! Regular readers of my blog will know that I love a good conference, this is for a number of reasons. The first is meeting new people and networking, the second is catching up with old friends and the last is to learn about new techniques or methods you could apply to your own science/projects. This is going to be a very quick rundown as there is too much to condense without turning it into an essay.

A flattering photo of me introducing my talk. Photo credit: Amphibian Survival Alliance

As the photo above indicates, I was presenting a talk on how to go about using social media to help promote reptile and amphibian conservation. This was part of the ‘Novel Approaches to Science Communication & Conservation Engagement in Herpetology’ symposium, along with talks by people such as CiCi Blumstein (aka Agent Amphibian) and Johnathan Kolby. In a world where scientists need to reach out more to the general public, this was a very important session. The feedback from our presentations and the Q&A session afterwards was very positive. Hopefully some of the attendees of the symposium are now finding ways to reach a new audience be it through art, social media or film.

The ‘title card’ before Jodi’s presentation

For such a large conference, held across 5 days with over 800 delegates – there were plenty of plenary talks. These were held each morning and afternoon, capping the rest of the conference in between. My favourite plenary was by the amazing Jodi Rowley, who works at the Australian Museum on my favourite group of animals – frogs! I used to work with Jodi redlisting amphibians from mainland south-east Asia so it was great to finally meet Jodi and the rest of the team. It was like a reunion of old friends more than anything which is always the best feeling. Jodi was giving a talk on her work recording amphibians throughout Australia with the use of citizen science and an app (FrogID), that lets users go out and record frogs. At the moment the system is not automated so someone has to verify each call by ear but there is hope that artificial intelligence may be used in the future. Watch this space!

The unofficial group photo, can you spot me in the crowds among the ~850 delegates?

Above you may be able to see there were a number of herpetologists from all corners of the globe. The World Congress was a great chance to network and to meet those that I’d only previously known through the digital world. As mentioned above I also presented a poster at the conference, titled ‘Enter the Natrix‘ which you may have spotted across my socials. More on this in a future post! I’d like to take the time to thank the University of Otago for its amazing hospitality, the organisers for all their hard work and all of the delegates that made the conference so memorable. As you may have guessed, this is just a very quick summary of my thoughts of the Congress. Due to the sheer size of the conference, I shall be writing a series of blogs over the next couple of weeks as well as posts on the activities I undertook outside of the Congress so keep an eye for them too!

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