Report on the 5th Biology of Vipers Conference


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Authored by Jelka Crnobrnja-Isailović

The 5th Biology of Vipers (BOV) conference was held from May 10th to 15th in the Chefchaouen, Morocco, organized by University of Abdelmalek Essaâdi in Tetouan, Morocco and the Research Centre for Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, University of Porto, Portugal. Thanks to the excellent organization and efforts of the committee organizing this meeting, Professor Soumia Fahd and Dr. Fernando Martinez-Freiria, the conference attendants also had the opportunity to visit Talassemtane National Park near Chefchaouen as well as to explore habitats of Vipera latastei, V. (latastei) monticola, Bitis arietans, Daboia mauritanica and Cerastes cerastes on the five days field excursion from Chefchaouen to the south of Morocco.

There were three plenary lectures given by Professor Wolfgang Wuster, Dr. Xavier Bonnet and Dr. Jose C. Brito, 31 oral and 9 poster presentations. During the Conference, the regional IUCN VSG meeting was organized (managed by the VSG European regional coordinator) which included viper experts from two regions: Europe/North Asia and North Africa/West Asia.

During the meeting, viper experts weighed in on the proposed list of conservation priority species for the vipers in the European Region and suggested several topics for regional VSG to focus on in the following months. These suggestions included: a revision of the species status of certain regional vipers (taxonomical updates); a revision of the conservation status of the species due to new information regarding their phylogenetic relations, distribution, biology, ecology and threats; and production of the up-to-date list of regional conservation priorities.

In order to help the IUCN VSG Red List Focal Point to facilitate this process, a regional taxonomy working group was formed, including Professor Urlich Joger, Professor Wolfgang Wuster, Dr. Sylvain Ursenbacher, Dr. Olexander Zinenko and Dr. Fernando Martinez-Freiria. Additionally, Mr. Edvard Mizsei, B.Sc., will be in charge of facilitating a reassessment of IUCN Red List status of regional vipers. It was recommended to done the reassessments in conjunction with the Societas Europaea Herpetologica (SEH) Mapping Committee Chair, Dr. Neftali Sillero, who manages online distribution Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles of Europe.