BU to host national herpetology conference

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BRANDON, Man. – A large-scale event for Canadian herpetologists is coming to Brandon University (BU) this week.

The event logo features the words "Brandon 2017" and "Canadian Herpetological Society" with an image of a Western Hognose Snake and a Northern Prairie Skink. A Maple Leaf sits in the curve of the skink's tail.About 70 people from across Canada will take part in the fourth Annual Conference of the Canadian Herpetological Society (CHS), from Friday, Sept. 15 through Sunday, Sept. 17. The participants will include representatives from universities, government agencies and other organizations, as well as individuals interested in herpetology, the study of amphibians and reptiles.

The Society’s previous Annual Conferences have been held at the Toronto Zoo, the New Brunswick Museum in Saint John, and the University of Calgary, although the roots of the event go much deeper than that, with this being the 27th meeting of the previous associations that joined to form the CHS in 2013.

“Having this conference at BU is an exciting opportunity to show off the university, and advertise our growing graduate program in Environmental Life Sciences,” said Dr. Pamela Rutherford, the conference’s lead organizer and an Associate Professor in BU’s Department of Biology.

“Hosting the conference does raise our national profile, and will help us attract future undergraduate and graduate students.”

About a third of the presentations will be made by students, who have travelled to Brandon with assistance from BU’s Faculty of Science, the Vice-President (Academic & Provost) Office and the President’s Office. Shawna Philpott and Alyssa Eagle, students in BU’s Master of Science (Environmental and Life Sciences) program will be among those taking part.

The keynote address will be delivered by Dr. Christina Davy of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. She will discuss collaboration, creativity and compromise in reptile conservation.

“Many of the presentations are very specialized, but in general many address the importance of collaboration in developing effective conservation practices,” Rutherford said. “The conference provides an opportunity for researchers, conservation practitioners, naturalists, and educators to identify opportunities for partnerships and collaborations.”

Participants will also check out some of the unique plants and animals of the area, with a field trip to the Spirit Sands in Sprucewoods Provincial Park, which is home to cacti, Northern Prairie Skinks and Western Hognose Snakes. Manitoba is the only province in Canada where the Prairie Skink, an endangered lizard, can be found.

Other local participants in the Conference will include representatives from Manitoba Sustainable Development and CFB Shilo.


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