Steve's Herpetological Blog

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


#SciFri: Herpetofauna Workers Meeting 2021

The Herpetofauna Workers Meeting (HWM) has been a staple event for herpetologists in the UK since the first event back in the 1980s. This year’s HWM (on the 6th and 7th February) was the 34th that have been held between the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust and the Amphibian and Reptile Groups UK. The conference is designed to bring ecologists, academics and practitioners together under one roof. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 that couldn’t happen this year so instead things moved online. However, things didn’t fall flat and the program we well balanced to ensure that attendees didn’t suffer from the fatigue of staring at a screen all day. Despite the fact we couldn’t meet up or socialise in person for the two-day event, it still felt relatively normal given the circumstances.

The title slide for my own talk which rounded off the first day

I was luck enough to be invited to give a talk this year, taking a look back at all the academic papers published in 2020 that people may have missed. These of course had to have some relevance to herpetofauna conservation in the UK and Ireland and by the looks of things, my talk was well received. I’m not sure if this was because of my references to Joe Exotic and Donald Trump or the content, but hopefully a recording will be made available soon so that you can make up your own minds. In my mind it was extremely weird to be presenting to over 200 people and not being able to see them or knowing if they could hear you. I could have been talking to the void and I wouldn’t have known it!

It was great to sit in and listen to a number of optimistic talks given the dark times we’ve all been through over the past 11 months. Conservation is often full of doom and glooms stories but there are lots of positive ones too, unfortunately these aren’t the ones the media tends to pick up on. The two workshops I attended were also well structured given the online format and made us all ponder a number of different questions on some challenging topics. In a way, I feel that if these had been run in person that no one would have been able to get a word in edgeways.

Xavier’s talk on the NEWTRAP device was my favourite of the HWM2021

It was great to see an update from Carl Sayer in regards to the Norfolk Ponds Project, something I’ve been keeping a close eye on for a few years now. Other talks looked at some interesting methods for collecting data such as John Baker’s talk relating to some observations made in Suffolk whilst cycling or Xavier Mestdagh’s presentation on the NEWTRAP device. Given the reception of this last talk, I think it was by far the most enjoyed. If you don’t know anything about the project, got and follow them on Twitter and I’m sure you’ll fall in love – whilst you’re there also check out #HWM2021 to be brought up to speed on the happenings of last weekend.

Thanks to all of those that helped organise the HWM, gave a talk or ran a workshop. You all helped make the event feel as normal as possible in these trying times and I hope we’ll all be able to meet in person soon.

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