Last weekend, I attended the 32nd Herpetofauna Workers Meeting, in Stoke-on-Trent: this conference, organised by ARG UK and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, is to share information on the latest work in UK amphibian and reptile conservation. While I wasn’t able to attend the Saturday lectures, I did arrive in Stoke in time for the conference dinner on Saturday evening. This was a great opportunity to talk to other attendees: some people I already knew were there, including a party from Bangor University; but at the dinner and during the following day, I was able to make new acquaintances, talking to some very interesting and friendly conservationists.
The lectures covered a wide range of projects and focus species. These included conservation-based scientific studies: Dr Naomi Ewald talked about PondNet’s study monitoring the presence of great crested newts by detecting their environmental DNA (eDNA); while Dr Silviu Petrovan talked about evidence-based conservation, measuring how successfully amphibians use tunnels built under roads. I was also particularly interested in Sophia Ratcliffe’s lecture on using data compiled from the NBN Atlas to examine long-term reptile population trends, and Louise Sherwell and Mariya Tarnavska’s project on using ladders to help amphibians escape from gully pots on kerbsides.
There were also a couple of Q&A panels: I attended one that covered general herpetological conservation questions. The panelists gave their opinions and knowledge on whether restrictions on animal trade can help prevent the spread of disease, whether Brexit could be an opportunity to strengthen conservation legislation, and what can be done regarding the decline of native species (public outreach and monitoring local sites were encouraged).
Thank you to ARG UK and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation for organising this event – I’m already looking forward to the next one!