This is the title of the accepted symposium.

  • Red list assessment of European amphibians (J. Crnobrnja-Isailović);
  • Herpetofauna in agricultural landscapes (J. Ludwigs and G. Montinaro)
  • Herp hybrid zones (I. van Riemsdijk and B. Wielstra)
  • Islands: from the Sea to the Sky (C. Corti, A. Herrel and R. Van Damme)
  • Osteology in the XXI century (A. Villa and M. Delfino)
  • Developing a response plan to Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (S. Canessa)



  • Red list assessment of European amphibians (Organizer: Jelda Crnobrnja-Isailović)

The IUCN Amphibian Red List Assessment should be updated every 10 years and the last one was completed in year 2009. In year 2018 at the SEH meeting in Salzburg, a new regional Amphibian Red List Assessor Team has been established and their main goal is to prepare draft (re)assessments for amphibian species inhabiting territory of Europe. The (re)assessments are grouped according to three main themes – reassessments of the species previously assigned as threatened, assessments of newly proclaimed species, and reassessments of the species previously evaluated as Least Concerned. According to the procedure, the drafts of all (re)assessments should be sent to the third parties for review. Therefore, the opportunity to present the draft (re)assessmentsto the wide SEH audience adds an extra value to this Red Listing process through collecting valuable comments that can improve the final product – an updated Red List status of European amphibians. Recently, there are numerous indications that some species previously assigned as not threatened (due to wide range and absence of any evidence on their population status) are actually decreasing in number. This symposium would facilitate review of those new evidences and help in finding solution to properly assign conservation status of such species.


  • Herpetofauna in agricultural landscapes (Organizers: Jan-Dieter Ludwigs and Gianpaolo Montinaro)

There is still limited knowledge about amphibian and reptile species inhabiting agricultural landscapes, and to which extent. The occurrence in and time when, and which part of local
populations use these highly anthropogenic influenced habitats is poorly investigated. Most scientific basic research in Europe is still focusing on non-agricultural habitats or driven by lab testing. The two aims of the Symposium are to inform interested herpetologists about the current development at European level about how to assess the risks of pesticides for amphibians and reptiles, and what methods and data would be needed according to the current risk assessment intended to be implemented in future. The EFSA (European Food Safety Authority, placed in Parma, Italy) has recently published a scientific opinion on the state of the science on pesticide risk assessment for amphibians and reptiles. The panel who worked on this document concluded that the current risk assessment procedures of pesticides may not sufficiently cover the risk to amphibians and reptiles. Based on comments made to the scientific opinion document during a public consultation period EFSA intends to finalize an official guidance document for amphibian and reptile risk assessment in 2024, and a second public consultation may be launched on the final draft, before publishing in 2020 or later. The compiled scientific opinion on pesticide risk assessment for amphibians and reptiles stated, that simply a lot of data is missing to perform regularly and obligatory pesticide risk assessment as it is planned to be implemented, and similar how it is guided in the advanced guideline for birds and mammals: using ecological and species related data to assess risk. The session intends to present available data to be used for amphibian and reptile environmental risk assessments and to show and discuss methods how to collect respective data needed, through telemetry for example.


  • Herp hybrid zones (Organizers: Isolde van Riemsdijk and Ben Wielstra)

Hybrid zones exist where the ranges of species that are incompletely reproductively isolated meet. Via introgressive hybridization, genes can flow between species. Hybrid zones are key to understanding differential introgression patterns in nature. Whether a foreign gene is incorporated depends on its fitness against the novel species’ genome. Negatively selected genes cannot cross the hybrid zone, whereas beneficial genes can traverse the hybrid zone and improve the fitness of the receiving species. Neutral genes trickle through the hybrid zone at random. When a hybrid one shifts its position, the introgression of neutral genes to the expanding species is exaggerated. However, their large genomes (with some salamander genomes up to 120 Gbp, about 35 times the size of the human genome) have hampered genome-wide analysis of herp hybrid zones. In this symposium we explore how herp hybrid zones mediate gene exchange, emphasizing how advances in molecular techniques help us to determine the movement of genes across species boundaries in nature.


  • Islands: from the Sea to the Sky (Organizers: Claudia Corti, Anthony Herrel and Rauol Van Damme)

Island faunas and floras have played a key role in our understanding of evolutionary processes and how new species originated. Islands constitute discrete and relatively simple entities and function as ‘natural laboratories’ that can be used to test general ideas about evolution. Insular faunas are subjected to different ecological conditions depending on the physical, climatological and geographical characteristics of islands. Consequently, differences in phenotype (morphology, behaviour, ecology, natural history) between continental and “insular” populations are often observed. The most common phenotypic difference observed is a change in body size in insular populations. Yet, many other differences have been documented including dietary and behavioral shifts and differences in performance due to reduced predation pressure. Reptiles have been a model system for island biology due to their presence on even the smallest islands and their relative abundance and ease of observation. With this symposium “Islands: from the Sea to the Sky“, we wish to highlight the role that herpetofauna play in the study of island biology and evolutionary biology more general.


  • Osteology in the XXI century (Organizers: Andrea Villa and Massimo Delfino)

Interest in the osteology of amphibians and reptiles has risen since the second half of the 20th century. This is due both to the introduction of new, groundbreaking technologies (e.g., computed tomography) and to the vast amount of implications that osteological data can significantly have in different topics, such as taxonomy, functional anatomy, phylogeny, evolutionary studies, palaeontology, archaeology, diet analysis, and others. But where are we now? Which are the groups, the osteology of which was studied most during the last decades? And what kind of further insights does the comparative osteological analysis of amphibians and reptiles can give in the future? The main aim of this symposium is to answer this and other critical questions, by gathering together specialists whose research is focused on the osteology of different groups and on different aspects of the osteological analysis. The main themes of the symposium will tackle important issues in the study of amphibians and reptiles, such as: (1) the importance of morphological data in taxonomic, ontogenetic and phylogenetic studies; (2) the role of studying skeletons of extant species for palaeoherpetology; (3) the functional data that can be provided by the study of skeletal structures; and (4) how studying bones of amphibians and reptiles has changed with the application of new technologies.


  • Developing a response plan to Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Organizer: Stefano Canessa)

Six years have passed since Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans was identified as the driver of salamander extirpations in northern Europe; in the meantime, its presence has been detected in several captive collections throughout the continent. Spillovers could occur anywhere and at any time throughout Europe, but there is no real idea about how to react. In this mini-symposium, we will introduce a provocative idea: local Bsal invasions can be contained and eliminated using radical active actions, including host removal and quarantine. We propose a largely interactive format for the symposium, based on talks and discussion in equal measure. The first half will consist of five invited talks, which will (1) review the threat posed by Bsal to European amphibian diversity, (2-3) describe how Bsal invasion in northern and Southern Europe have been managed and which lessons have been learned, (4-5) present theoretical and practical considerations behind early detection of Bsal and subsequent active intervention, using a risk analysis framework. The second half will consist of a structured discussion to assess the attitude of the audience to the opportunities and risks involved in Bsal mitigation. Using simulated scenarios and surveys, we will stimulate discussion about the feasibility of radical mitigation actions, including the challenges posed by legal frameworks in different countries, reactions in public opinion and the potential logistics and costs of implementing such actions.