Joint Herpetological Scientific Meeting 2015 – Highlights

The Herpetological Society of Ireland, and Dublin University Zoological Society were honoured to host the “Joint Herpetological Scientific Meeting 2015” at Trinity College Dublin. The JHSM was a joint venture between the two societies, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC), The British Herpetological Society (BHS) and Amphibian and Reptile Groups of the UK (ARG-UK). The meeting was the first of its kind to be held in Ireland and attracted delegates from the UK, Ireland, Jersey and France. It was a resounding success and we hope it will be the first of many to be held in Ireland.

Science Officer, Robert Gandola, getting things underway.

Science Officer, Robert Gandola, getting things underway.

The meeting began with an address from Senior Science Officer Rob Gandola, before moving on to a selection of fantastic talks. The opening talk, delivered by the HSI’s Collie Ennis, focused on our ongoing herpetofauna work on the North Bull Island, and was followed by Nina Cornish discussing the conservation of European Common Wall Lizards in Jersey.

Ferdia Marnell of National Parks and Wildlife Services

Ferdia Marnell of National Parks and Wildlife Services

Natterjack toads featured heavily on the day, with talks from Ferdia Marnell (National Parks and Wildlife Services), Cheryl Zaitschenko (University of Derby) and Leslie Faucher (Université Lille 1 – Sciences et Technologies), all focusing on this charismatic species.

Gail Austen of D.I.C.E, delivers a thought provoking talk

Gail Austen of D.I.C.E, delivers a thought provoking talk

The impacts of new media, and the digital age, on herpetology were touched upon several times, with Chris Gleed-Owen (British Herpetological Society) discussing the merits and challenges of maintaining a membership based society in the age of social media, and Gail Austen (D.I.C.E – University of Kent) questioning the reliability of identifying newt species via online resources .

Angie Julian of ARGUK delivers words of wisdom

Angie Julian of ARGUK delivers words of wisdom

While many organisations are now embracing citizen science to complete vital research, it is still something of a new frontier, and as such there are many challenges to be overcome. Angie Julian’s talk on engaging volunteers, and overcoming these challenges proved very informative.

The meeting broke for lunch, and the delegates toured the, on campus,  Zoological Museum . The specimens on display were truly impressive and provoked many lively discussions. The herpetological specimens were, unsurprisingly, some of the most popular on the day.

The Zoological Museum is incredible and comes highly recommended

The Zoological Museum is incredible and comes highly recommended

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The delegates enjoying the poster session.

The delegates enjoying the poster session.

The evening session featured talks by Naomi O’ Reilly of University College Cork, and Jim foster of ARC. Naomi’s summary of her undergraduate thesis revealed some surprising insights into common lizard behaviour. Jim’s talk focused on the need to better inform conservation measures with research, and the importance of improving the research-conservation interface.

Following the talks, the delegates enjoyed an informative poster session, before holding a raffle in aid of the HSI’s student grant fund.

Some amazing raffle prizes were on offer. Thanks to everyone who donated!

Some amazing raffle prizes were on offer. Thanks to everyone who donated!

The evening was rounded off with a visit to some of Dublin’s cultural hotspots and enthusiastic sampling of the local food and drink. Mainly the latter…

Sure it wouldn't be an Irish Herpetology meeting if we didn't sample some of

Sure it wouldn’t be an Irish Herpetology meeting if we didn’t sample some of “The Black Stuff”

The following morning, a number of delegates joined the HSI’s JP Dunbar in a visit to the National Reptile Zoo. We are indebted to James Hennesy for his hospitality, and for delivering a rivetting tour of the facility.

James Hennesy of Nationl Reptile Zoo, in action

James Hennesy of National Reptile Zoo, in action

The delegates get

The delegates get “Up Close and personal” with some of the facility’s residents

Another group of delegates joined Senior Science Officer,Rob Gandola  for a “head clearing” ramble on the cliff walks on Howth Head. The weather was favourable and they enjoyed the spectacular scenery across Dublin Bay while engaging in a bit of lizard spotting. With just under 20 lizards sighted, mostly this year’s juveniles, and a couple of juvenile common frogs it was a really great way to wind down after all the excitement of the previous few days!

One of many common lizards encountered at Howth Head

One of many common lizards encountered at Howth Head

The Herpetological Society of Ireland are thrilled with how well the event went, and we would like to extend our deepest gratitude to all the delegates for making the trip. We are also grateful for the invaluable assistance offered by each organisation that came together to make this event possible. We look forward to future collaborations, and we hope that, in the not too distant future, we may once again host an event of this stature in Ireland.

The HSI Committee. From L-R. Collie Ennis, JP Dunbar, Cat Hendry, Rob Gandola, and Rob O' Sullivan.

The HSI Committee. From L-R. Collie Ennis, JP Dunbar, Cat Hendry, Rob Gandola, and Rob O’ Sullivan.

“Go raibh míle maith agaibh” (Thanks a million)

Upcoming Events:

  • Sunday 18th October 2015 – British Herpetological Society and Thames & Chiltern Herpetological Group (See http://www.thebhs.org)
  • Monday 9th November 2015 – Amphibians and urban drainage: Invitation to Participate (See http://www.arc-trust.org)
  • Saturday 14th November 2015 – South West region Amphibian and Reptile Groups’ Conference (See somersetarg.org)
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