On the 14th of September I followed Merike, a Master’s student from John Measey’s lab from Stellenbosch university into the field. The reason was to have a look at the aSCR technique, an acoustic monitoring array that can be used to calculate population densities (amongst other things). I saw John Measey present at the World Herpetology Congress on this technique and asked him about it, he kindly invited me to come and have a look at it in action whilst I was visiting South Africa. It was a very interesting and exciting day, apart from the seeing the ASCR field set up we also got to visit the Kenilworth Racecourse Conservation Area. Amazingly one of the most important Cape Flats Sand Fynbos remaining is preserved in the middle of this horse race track.
In August I attended the World Herpetology Congress in China. Despite the congress being moved around 90km to the city of Tonglu just a couple of days before the congress started the organizers still managed to very well to pull off the congress. I was able to attend the congress as they awarded me a partial scholarship which covered the registration fee, accommodation and food whilst I was there.
I presented a talk titled “Ansonia platysoma, the effect of habitat variables on occupancy”, this is part of my data that has been collected for my PhD (we got awarded funding from the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund to conduct the work on it). Currently the data indicates that there are different factors that affect occupancy in comparison to the density of individuals that you have in a site.
The congress had a lot of amazing talks and I met a lot of individuals doing fantastic work in different disciplines. It was nice that everyone were herpetologists, but it truly showcased the wide range of areas that people use these amazing taxa’s as study species for. I do enjoy going to “random” talks that it looks like it isn’t related to my area, often you find out something new and sometimes it turns out that some technique that you could apply is being used. Maybe they even look at things from a different view point and give you another angle to think about in your own work?
I managed to meet two of my previous masters project supervisors (David Gower and Mark Wilkinson from the British Natural History Museum) as well as one of my previous masters lecturer (Ansi Laurila from Uppsala University) and it was great to catch up with them. I also got elected as a student member of the congress committee and hopefully I will be able to attend the next congress in Dunedin in New Zealand in 2020. Thank you to everyone that I met at the congress that made this such a brilliant experience!
I attended the Conservation Asia 2016 conference in Singapore in June, it was a joint meeting between SCB and ATBC’s Asia chapters. Around 600 people attended the conference and my overall impression was that it was a very good conference, the range of talks and the quality of them was very high and the networking opportunities for at least me, were very good. I presented a 15-minute talk in the symposia titles “Amphibian Conservation Asia: Approaching standard methods”. My talk was titled “Automatic Acoustic Monitoring: Current use and Challenges” and went through a few of the issues currently existing when it comes to standardization in the field and where the field is moving in terms of automated species ID from acoustic data, I also talked about the project we are due to launch in Kinabalu Park on automated acoustic monitoring and why I think this project will give us more information that will help us towards standardising our methods.
I met and talked to a lot of people during the conference, they provided invaluable hints, feedback and tips as well as hopefully being useful contacts for future projects. I also met some people I haven’t seen in a long time, for example Gerry Ryan for the QAECO group who gave two excellent presentations on his vulture and dolphin work relating to conservation impacts. I also met some colleagues that I met in Taiwan two years ago that work on amphibians, two of them had poster presentations and it was nice to see some of the work they’ve done since I saw them last (Min Feng Chuang, P04; Chi-Shiun Wu, P15). Dr Yeong-Choy Kam had a presentation in the amphibian symposia on “Life-history traits explain body size patterns of frogs in different altitudes”.
Apart from a wider range of very conservation and ecology specific presentations, I also went and saw a talk by Natalia Huang from Ecology Matters in the symposia “Business and Conservation Biology”, it was titled “Why Biologist need to be non-biologist” and talked about how the problem with not getting on between different sectors is often due to communication issues and a problem with understanding the point of view of the person from the other field and how we as conservationists and ecologists can be helped by ensuring that we understand other sectors and ensure that we communicate effectively with them.