BU Hosts Herpetology Conference

(Ashlyn Pearce/The Quill)

“Herpein” is a Greek word meaning “to creep”; herpetology is a branch of zoology that studies reptiles and amphibians. Brandon University just had the honor of hosting the 4th annual conference of the Canadian Herpetological Society (CHS). Although, this is the 27th meeting of the associations that amalgamated to form CHS in 2013.

Approximately 70 representatives from universities, government agencies, students, and individuals interested in the study came from across Canada from September 15 to 17th.

Dr. Palema Rutherford of BU’s Biology Department explains the significance of hosting the conference, “an opportunity to show off the university, advertise our growing graduate program in Environmental Life Sciences, …[raising] our national profile, and [helping] us attract future undergraduate and graduate students.”

Rutherford noted that the conference was “an opportunity for researchers, conservation practitioners, naturalists, and educators to identify opportunities for partnerships and collaborations”.

The keynote presentation addressed collaboration, creativity, and compromise in reptile conservation, delivered by Dr. Christina Davy of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. About one third of the presentations were made by students, including BU’s own Master of Science students, Shawna Philpott and Alyssa Eagle.

Many of the presentations addressed the importance of collaboration in developing effective conservation practices.

The conference included a day trip to the Spirit Sands in Spruce Woods Provincial Park; one of the few area of sand dunes in Canada, home to unique plants and animals such as cacti, Western Hognose Snakes, and Northern Prairie Skinks – an endangered species of lizard in its only Canadian home.