The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) recently hold a two-day symposium in London. Organised by Dr. Trenton Garner, the subject was “Mitigating single pathogen and co-infections that threaten amphibian biodiversity”. The project P3 was represented at this conference by Dirk Schmeller (Principal Investigator and Senior Researcher), Adriana Cravo (PhD student) and Adeline Loyau (Researcher).
What was your primary reason to attend the conference?
Adriana: the primary reason to attend the conference was to get input from senior researchers who are working on the same field as me for a longer time, and get to know more about what has been found recently and the problems as well.
Dirk: It was one of the rare opportunities to meet with amphibian disease experts from all around the world. Some, I have been in touch with by email, but it is always nice to meet colleagues in person.
Adeline: The meeting was hold at a time that was not very convenient for me, as I was just moving from Germany to France. I attended it because I like these small, but very focused conferences. It is the best place to meet good researchers working on similar subjects, people I am already collaborating with, and also new people who could become new collaborators.
Did the conference meet your expectations?
Adriana: I would say so. It was only two days but there was a lot of information to digest and many people that I only knew from the papers I read, so it was a good opportunity to see that they all normal human beings.
Dirk: It was a very good set of presentations and the organisation was excellent. ZSL is a great place to go to. Unfortunately, the time passed by so quickly that there was not enough time to catch up with all the different colleagues.
Adeline: It went even beyond my expectations! The only thing I wish was more developed was the mitigation part. Unfortunately, we are still far from finding solution(s) to amphibian diseases such as chytridiomycosis and ranaviruses.
What surprised you the most during the conference?
Adriana: The fact that despite all the work done on pathogens and all the working force, we still don't know what to do against the pathogens Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and Ranaviruses, and that we may need to rely only on the amphibians capacity to recover (that was not a happy surprise, but still..).
Dirk: That Erin Muths was so short J. Apart of that the atmosphere was very friendly, almost like a family meeting.
Adeline: We were in London, I was expecting a veggie friendly food, but I was surprised by the quality of the food during the dinner and I liked the chocolate cake served at lunch.
What did you like the most about the conference?
Adriana: What I liked the most was the poster session, since I could ask questions regarding the problems I have in my project and could also show a bit of what I'm doing to get some feedback.
Dirk: The quality of the talks and the good organisation.
Adeline: The quality of the talks. It is the best conference I’ve ever been so far in terms of quality of the presentations and the science. When I told that to Trent Garner (the organizer) he hugged me J. I also greatly appreciated the friendly atmosphere.
If you had to remember only one thing, what would it be?
Adriana: As I said, I was impressed to see all those researchers that I only knew from the papers, so I think I would remember all the knowledge that was concentrated in that single room and how everyone was trying, somehow, in their own studies, to find a solution against amphibian pathogens around the world.
Dirk: That disease ecology has become very complex and that we are not yet at the end of understanding all of it.
Adeline: It’s a difficult one, who wrote the questions? Oh wait, it was me, so I guess I need to answer. I will remember the compelling evidences that in different parts of the globe, such as in Panama or in the Sierra Nevada (USA), some amphibian populations seem to start to recover from pathogen declines. This matches what we are observing in at least one Pyrenean population. It is really good news that brings hope for the future.