Aust Mammal Society


International Federation of Mammalogists






Australia Tourism


Symposia & Workshops

The IMC12 program will incorporate Symposia and Workshops that explore the Congress theme “Advances in Mammalogy in a Changing World”.  The Organising Committee invited proposals for symposia and workshops for inclusion in the program, to be submitted by 31st January 2016.

Thirty-three symposia and four workshops were accepted through this process. Symposium topics are listed on the abstract submission form and Congress participants submitting abstracts are able to nominate a symposium with which they feel their contribution is compatible. The Program Subcommittee will negotiate with the symposium organiser on the inclusion of presentations from open submission.  Workshops have not been listed for open submission.

The Symposia and Workshops to be included in the IMC12 program are presented below, showing their organiser(s) with a summary text.



Antipodean bats in the Anthropocene (click to toggle description)

Kyle Armstrong, South Australian Museum & University of Adelaide, Australia; Stuart Parsons, University of Western Sydney, Australia.

Landscape destruction and modification continues seemingly unabated in a new human-induced geological epoch, the Anthropocene.  Bats are susceptible to many of these changes, with 15% of bat species listed as threatened by the IUCN, and perhaps more alarmingly a further 18% are considered as Data Deficient.  Balancing these gloomy consequences of a growing global human population and their needs is a continued improvement in technologies and analytical approaches that can help us better understand bat ecology.  This symposium will present the bad news and the good news stories of our time, with an emphasis on how modern approaches are helping to investigate and conserve the world’s most interesting mammals.

The vital role of mammal remains in reconstructing extinct faunas, in biological survey, and in conservation (click to toggle description)

Alexander Baynes, Western Australian Museum, Australia; Matthew McDowell, Flinders University, Australia.

It is now well established that Australia has the unenviable record of the highest rate of extinction during the last 250 years on the planet among its native mammal fauna (Woinarski et al. 2014, 2015).  Many populations of mammals, particularly in the drier parts of Australia, became extinct before collecting expeditions sampled them (Ride 1968).  Notomys amplus and Notomys robustus are two examples of species that were not recognized until after they were extinct.  With extensive cave development in karst limestones around the periphery of the continent, and many small rock shelters beneath lateritic duricrust mesas in the deserts, Australia has an enormous resource of mammal remains accumulated by predators, particularly owls.  Owl-accumulated small mammal remains have been employed for decades on several continents for faunal survey and ecological studies (e.g. Davis 1959; Hanney 1963; Khajuria and Ghosal 1970; Herrera and Jaksic 1980), and their power in broad-scale investigations has just been confirmed by a topical review (Heisler et al. 2016).  Australian material, recently reviewed by McDowell (2014), is now being utilized in the emerging discipline of conservation palaeozoology (Lyman 2012).  Ignoring this resource can lead to poor perception of the extent of ecosystem degradation and inadequate management strategies (Bilney 2014).

Papers promised for this symposium to date will review the latest information provided by mammal remains on the extent of extinction in Australia, for the edification of international delegates, report new survey work in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, and describe the use of remains in conservation strategies, including a major mammal faunal restoration initiative being undertaken by Australian Wildlife Conservancy.

Bilney, R.J. (2014). Poor historical data drive conservation complacency: the case of mammal decline in south-eastern Australian forests. Austral Ecology 39: 875-886.
Davis, D.H.S. (1959). The Barn Owl's contribution to ecology and palaeoecology. Ostrich, Supplement No. 3: 144-153.
Hanney, P (1963). Observations upon the food of the Barn Owl (Tyto alba) in southern Nyasaland, with a method of ascertaining population dynamics of rodent prey. Annals and Magazine of Natural History (13)6: 305-312.
Heisler L.M., Somers, C.M. and Poulin, R.G. (2016). Owl pellets: a more effective alternative to conventional trapping for broad-scale studies of small mammal communities. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 7: 96-103.
Herrera, C.M. and Jaksic, F.M. (1980). Feeding ecology of the Barn Owl in central Chile and southern Spain: a comparative study. The Auk 97: 760-767.
Khajuria, H. and Ghosal, D.K. (1970). Small mammals eaten by the Barn Owl, Tyto alba (Scopoli). Mammalia 34: 718-720.
Lyman, R.L. (2012). A warrant for applied palaeozoology. Biological Reviews 87: 513-525.
McDowell, M.C. (2014). Holocene vertebrate fossils aid the management and restoration of Australian ecosystems. Ecological Management and Restoration 15: 58-63.
Ride, W.D.L. (1968). On the past, present, and future of Australian mammals. Australian Journal of Science 31: 1-11.
Woinarski, J.C.Z., A.A. Burbidge & P.L. Harrison (2014). The action plan for Australian mammals 2012. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne.

Woinarski, J.C.Z., A.A. Burbidge & P.L. Harrison (2015). Ongoing unraveling of a continental fauna: decline and extinction of Australian mammals since European settlement. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 112: 4531-4540.

Wild ecophysiology: How free living mammals work (click to toggle description)

Christine Cooper, Curtin University, Australia; Philip Withers, University of Western Australia, Australia.

Understanding how mammals “work” in their natural environment is the ultimate objective of many biologists. This symposium brings together a diverse array of researchers who are interested in the ecological and physiological adaptations of how mammals function in their habitats, in response to a variety of environmental and biological factors. By studying the energetics, thermoregulation, water balance, locomotion or other aspects of functioning of free-ranging mammals, we can elucidate how these core aspects of the flexible mammalian bauplan allow mammals to exploit the wide array of niches in which they are found, from marine to terrestrial, fossorial, and aerial environments. Understanding adaptation to existing habitats can also reveal potential responses to environmental change, and so is important for conservation and management of mammals into the future. Presentations will vary from species-specific topics to synthetic summaries for particular mammalian groups, addressing over-arching principles applicable to the broad diversity of mammals.

Timing, rates and drivers of Neotropical diversification (click to toggle description)

Guillermo D'Elia, Universidad Austral de Chile, Chile; Nathan Upham, Yale University, USA

In bringing together workers on Neotropical diversification from across the mammalian radiations, our goal for this symposium is to generate a comparative discussion about common patterns and drivers of evolution in disparate groups of coexisting mammals. Symposium participants will investigate questions of trait evolution, speciation, extinction, and dispersal within major clades of mammals, with a focus on comparing responses to the changing ecological and climatic contexts of South America throughout the Neogene (23 million years ago - present). Using insights gained from time-calibrated molecular phylogenies, which continue to improve in completeness and rigor, this symposium will seek to identify consistent trends in the tempo and mode of diversification across groups, and determine their relationships to intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Questions that interest us within each mammalian clade include: Were there pulses of lineage or trait diversification, or was there a single rate across the tree? Was diversification prompted by the origin of a certain trait, the colonization of an area, or another factor? Does the clade represent a case of diversification mediated by ecological opportunity? By providing a venue for multiple talks on these topics, we aim to generate a synthetic timeline for mammalian evolution in the Neotropics, thereby allowing the identification of common ecological drivers of diversification.

It's the small ones we have to worry about: Understanding the role of small carnivores in an increasingly human-dominated world (click to toggle description)

Adam Ferguson, Karatina University, Kenya; Taal Levi, Oregon State University, USA.

Despite the growing evidence of the role of small carnivores in emerging diseases (e.g. palm civets/SARS, Tasmanian devils/communicable cancers, and feral cats/toxoplasmosis) as well as the varied ways in which small carnivores influence disease dynamics (e.g. rodent control, spillover hosts, and association with human-dominated landscapes), our knowledge of how small carnivores shape disease patterns remains extremely limited. This symposium aims to bring together an interdisciplinary group of scientists working on disease ecology of small carnivores to explore how these charismatic but often overlooked species influence disease dynamics in the Anthropocene. In addition, our symposium will include discussions of applying a multidisciplinary approach to understanding disease dynamics in mammals, with talks incorporating novel applications of GPS tracking, ecoimmunology, and statistical modeling to name but a few.

Conservation hunting of large mammals (click to toggle description)

Marco Festa-Bianchet, Université de Sherbrooke, Canada; Atle Mysterud, University of Oslo, Norway; RosieCooney, Sustainable Use and Livelihood Specialist Group, IUCN, Australia.

Sport hunting of large mammals is widespread, extremely diverse but controversial.  In 2012, the IUCN produced a set of guidelines to identify how trophy hunting can be a part of a conservation program (  Based upon those guidelines, many ongoing sport hunting programs can be considered ‘Conservation hunting’, but many do not have any positive impact on conservation.  Isolated cases have attracted the media attention and generated much negative publicity leading, for example, to many airlines banning the transport of legally-obtained hunting trophies.  Trophy hunting is often singled out by animal-rights organizations in fund-raising efforts.  Two groups that should be partners in conservation, sport hunters and science-based conservation NGOs, appear increasingly to take an adversarial stance towards each other.  At the same time, sport hunting may cause mortality patterns that are very different from those seen in unhunted populations of large mammals, both herbivores and carnivores. Mortality induced by sport hunting can have multiple ecological and evolutionary consequences, providing conservation challenges but also opportunities to test theory.  In addition, sport hunting can create incentives and revenue for species and habitat conservation. This symposium will examine some of the evidence relating sport hunting to conservation in a variety of social and ecological contexts.  It will be of interest to both wildlife managers and those studying the population dynamics and the evolution of large mammals.

Torpor in a changing world (click to toggle description)

Craig Frank, Fordham University, USA; Fritz Geiser, University of New England, Australia.

Mammals and birds are unique among animals in that many are homeothermic endotherms, maintaining a constant body temperature (Tb) over a wide range of ambient temperatures (Ta) through a high metabolic rate (Willmer et al. 2000). The prolonged period high metabolic heat production by mammals and birds requires high rates of food intake. Food availability often fluctuates, and consequently the energetic costs of maintaining high Tb (32-42°C) via endothermy becomes prohibitively expensive in some situations, and therefore not all mammals permanently homeothermic, but instead enter torpor (Geiser 2004). Torpor is a period where Tb and metabolic rate are both greatly reduced. It involves the regulation of Tb at a new and substantially lower level, with a new critical minimum Tb maintained. Torpor in mammals is not a state in which endothermy and thermoregulation is abandoned (Geiser 2004). Mammals generally employ 1 of 2 common patterns of torpor, depending upon species: prolonged torpor during hibernation and daily torpor. Hibernation is seasonal, usually from late summer/autumn to spring, but hibernators do not remain torpid throughout the hibernation season; instead bouts of torpor last from days to weeks, interrupted by brief (< 36h) periods of high metabolic rates and Tb (euthermy) known as arousal episodes. Hibernation is a common pattern of torpor found in mammals. (Geiser & Ruf 1995; Geiser 2004). Torpor is known in at least 171 species of mammals (Ruf & Geiser 2015), and is represented in 6 of the 7 marsupial orders, as well as and 6 of the 18 placental mammal orders. It therefore seems that torpor has appeared repeatedly and independently throughout the course of mammalian evolution when it was required for energy conservation. This leads to a fundamental question: What are the ecological and physiological effects of recent environmental changes on mammals that employ torpor? One recent environmental change in North America is the appearance of White-nose Syndrome (WNS) in 2006. WNS is an emergent disease that has killed over 5,000,000 bats in the USA and Canada. Mass mortality with WNS was first found at 6 caves in central NY State during the winters of 2007-08 and 08-09. It has since spread to > 190 bat hibernation sites located in 26 U.S. states and 5 Canadian provinces. WNS leads to over-winter mortality rates as high as 98% for 4 of the 6 species that over-winter in northeastern USA/Canada. A white fungus associated with WNS has been identified as Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), and it grows on the muzzle, wings, and ears of affected bats during hibernation (Blehert et al. 2009). Histological analyses of affected bats revealed that Pd hyphae penetrate both the epidermis and dermis, replacing hair follicles, sebaceous and sweat glands (Chaturvedi et al. 2010) during hibernation. The optimal temperature for the growth of Pd is 12.5-15.8°C (Verant et al. 2012), and it probably was introduced to North America from Europe (Leopardi et al. 2015). Laboratory studies reveal that cutaneous infection with Pd is the cause of death in WNS-affected bats (Lorch et al. 2011; Warnecke et al. 2012). Field studies have revealed that Pd-infected bats arouse more frequently from torpor during hibernation, which leads to a premature depletion of body fat reserves prior to the availability of food, and subsequent death (Frank et al. 2012; Reeder et al. 2012). However, a recent field study demonstrated that big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus) hibernating in the areas where other bats species develop severe Pd infections (and WNS): 1) have torpor bouts of normal duration, 2) do not develop cutaneous Pd infections, and, 3) usually survive the hibernation period with some body fat reserves remaining (Frank et al. 2014). Consequently, not all species of North American bats are highly susceptible to cutaneous infection with Pd, or the development of WNS.

Climate warming also affects mammals that employ torpor. Mean surface temperatures increased by 0.8°C worldwide during the 20th century, and are expected to rise by up to 5.8°C during the 21st century. The documented effects of recent climate warming on mammals include phenological shifts and changes in their ranges limits during the past 50 years (Parmesan and Yohe 2003). A group of mammals that may be particularly sensitive to climate warming is those that utilize torpor (Humphries et al. 2002). Hibernating mammals can be divided into 2 categories. Spontaneous hibernators enter torpor during the autumn/winter regardless of the amount of energetic stress experienced. Facultative hibernators, however, enter torpor during the autumn/winter only when they are in a negative energy balance caused by thermal stress and/or food deprivation. The onset of torpor by facultative hibernators is closely tied to ambient temperature (Ta), whereas the onset of torpor by spontaneous hibernators is largely independent of Ta. The onset of torpor by spontaneous hibernators therefore typically occurs much sooner than for facultative hibernators under the same autumn/winter conditions, and the torpor bouts of spontaneous hibernators tend to both be longer and result in a greater Tb reduction than those of facultative hibernators at the same Ta (Harlow and Menkins 1986; Harlow and Frank 2001). The timing, onset, and duration of torpor in many mammalian species are thus greatly affected by environmental temperatures.

The impacts of both White-nose Syndrome and recently climate warming on the ecology, physiology, and survival of free-ranging mammals that utilize torpor will be summarized in our symposium.

Literature cited:
Blehert, D.S., Hicks, A.C., Behr, M., Meteyer, C.U., Berlowski-Zier, B.M., Buckles, E.L., Coleman, J.T.H., Darling, S.R., Gargas, A., Niver, R., Okoniewski, J.C., Rudd, R.J., Stone, W.B. (2009). Bat white-nose syndrome: an emerging fungal pathogen? Science 323(5911):227.
Chaturvedi, V., D. J. Springer, M. J. Behr, R. Ramani, X. Li, M. K. Peck, P. Ren, D. J. Bopp, B. Wood, W. A. Samsonoff, C. M. Butchkoski, A. C. Hicks, W. B. Stone, R. J. Rudd, & S. Chaturvedi. (2010). Morphological and molecular characterizations of Psychrophilic fungus Geomyces destructans from New York bats with White Nose Syndrome (WNS). PLoS ONE: 5(5): e10783.
Frank, C. L., P. Diaz, and T. H. Kunz (2012). The relationship between White Nose Syndrome and dietary PUFA levels in bats. In: Ruf, T. C. Bieber, W. Arnold, and E. Millesi (eds.). Living in a seasonal world: thermoregulatory and metabolic adaptations. Springer- Verlag, Germany
Frank CL, Michalski A, McDonough AA, Rahimian M, Rudd RJ, and Carl Herzog (2014). The Resistance of a North American Bat Species (Eptesicus fuscus) to White-Nose Syndrome (WNS). PLoS ONE 9(12): e113958. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113958
Geiser, F. (2004). Metabolic rate and body temperature reduction during hibernation and daily torpor. Annu. Rev. Physiol., 66:239-74.
Geiser, F., and T. Ruf. (1995). Hibernation vs. daily torpor in mammals and birds: physiological variables and classification of torpor patterns. Physiol. Zool., 68:935-66.
Harlow, H. J. and Frank, C.L. (2001) The role of dietary fatty acids in the evolution of spontaneous and facultative hibernation patterns in prairie dogs. Journal of Comparative Physiology B 171, 77-84.
Harlow, H.J. and Menkens, G.E. (1986) A comparison of hibernation in the black-tailed prairie dog, white-tailed prairie dog, and Wyoming ground squirrel. Canadian Journal of Zoology 64, 793-796.
Humphries, M.M., Thomas, D.W. and Speakman, J.R. (2002) Climate mediated energetic constraints on the distribution of hibernating mammals. Nature 418, 313-316.
Leopardi, S., Blake, D., and S. J. Puechmaille (2015). White-nose syndrome fungus introduced from Europe to North America. Current Biology, 25(6): R217-R219.
Lorch JM, Meteyer, C, Behr M, Boyles J, Cryan P, Hicks A, Ballmann A, Coleman J, Redell D, Reeder, D, Belhert D (2011). Experimental infection of bats with Geomyces destructans causes white-nose syndrome. Nature, 10590.
Parmesan, C. and Yohe, G. (2003). A globally coherent fingerprint of climate change impacts across natural systems. Nature 421, 37-42.
Reeder, D. M., C. L. Frank, G. C. Turner, C. U. Meteyer, A. Kutra, E. R. Brtizke, M. E. Vodzak, S. R. Darling, C. W. Stihler, A. C. Hicks, R. Jacob, L. E. Grieneisen, S. A. Brownlee, L. K. Muller, and D. S. Blehert (2012). Frequent Arousal from Hibernation Linked to Severity of Infection and Mortality in Bats with White-Nose Syndrome. PLoS ONE 7(6): e38920. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038920
Ruf, T., and F. Geiser (2015). Daily torpor and hibernation in birds and mammals. Biological Reviews, 90: 891-926.
Verant, M.L., J. G. Bolyes, W. Waldrep Jr., G. Wibbelt, and D. S. Blehert. (2012). Temperature  dependent growth of Geomyces destructans, the fungus that causes bat White-nose syndrome. PLosOne 7(9): e46280. Doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046280.
Warnecke, L., J. M. Turner, T.K. Bollinger, J.M. Lorch, V. Misra, P.M. Cryan, G. Wibbelt, D.S. Blehert, & C.K. Willis (2012). Inoculation of bats with European Geomyces destructans supports the novel pathogen hypothesis for the origin of White-nose syndrome. PNAS, 109:6999-7003.
Willmer, P., G. Stone, and I. Johnson (2000). Environmental physiology of animals. Blackwell Science, Boston, MA.

Mammals in anthropogenic landscapes: Threat to persistence or opportunity to thrive? (click to toggle description)

Zhigang Jiang, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China; Fuwen Wei, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China.

We are in an era of Anthropocene; humans have modified the landscape on the Earth. From the arctic to the Savannah in eastern Africa, from the Everest Peak to the deep sea in Atlantic Ocean, the impacts of human beings are everywhere and profound. On the land, farmlands, industrial parks, artificial water bodies, villages, towns and cities plus man-built infrastructure dominate most of the landscape which are inhabitable to human beings; dams cut off water currents in the rivers and streams, whereas dikes block the seasonal floods in riverine or diurnal tide in coastal zones, thus modifies riverine and coastal wetlands; not to mention human produced and discharged enormous smog, lights and noises and other pollutants into the atmosphere, ocean, inland water bodies and soil and make the world more choking, dazzling and noisy or nocuous than ever before. Human beings created the anthropogenic landscape on the earth which is a new selection force in evolution. Mammals have to cope with the new problems in the anthropogenic landscape. First, their habitat is often fragmented, migration routes are blocked and their population sizes are small; the mammals in anthropogenic landscape often face the problems of inbreeding and Allee effect; second, many larger mammals are persecuted by humans because human beings are replacing the role of top mammal predators in many ecosystems or replacing the wild ungulates in grassland ecosystems with domestic animals; human explore wild ungulates, whale and dolphins as source of protein or fur; on the other hand, rodents become androphile species and thrive in anthropogenic landscape. Participants in this session will talk about questions like why so many mammals are threatened and how mitigate the human impacts on the threatened species; why many mammals take advantage of human activities such as taking free ride to disperse, using man created habitat and food resource and becoming androphilic or invasive in the anthropogenic landscape.

Land use effects on medium to large terrestrial mammal: linking movement, genetics and cascading effects (click to toggle description)

Maria Jorge, Vanderbilt University, USA; Cibele Biondo, Universidade Federal do ABC, Brazil; Alexine Keuroghlian, Wildlife Conservation Society, Brazil;  Mauro Galetti, Universidade Estadual Paulista, Brazil.

Natural ecosystems provide important global services, such as carbon storage, carbon sequestration, and global climate regulation. High rates of human-driven conversion of natural land into crops and pastures continue to happen to meet national and global demands of food production. As a result, there is progressively greater proportion of natural ecosystems that are becoming fragmented and embedded into agricultural landscapes. The scientific community recognizes the urgency to better understand ecological dynamics of natural ecosystems within fragmented agricultural landscapes because they will play an increasingly more important role to help mitigate biodiversity loss and maintain ecosystem services. Medium to large terrestrial mammals can be highly mobile, with large home ranges, and can drastically affect the landscape through their movement and dietary preferences. Land cover changes are expected to affect medium to large terrestrial mammals’ movement, and ultimately their local distribution, and genetic population structure. Effects on movement are also expected to cascade down into the plants that they eat and the patches that they most frequently use. In this symposium, we propose to bring together prominent scientists from several regions of the world, that are actively working with various aspects of land cover change effects on medium to large terrestrial mammals. We hope this symposium will generate a more comprehensive picture of the current scientific knowledge on the subject, identify gaps and propose future directions.

Diversity among Mustelidae: evolution, genetics, socio-ecology inform conservation in Asia and Far East (click to toggle description)

Yayoi Kaneko, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Japan; Ryuichi Masuda, Hokkaido University, Japan.

The Family Mustelidae has proven challenging for taxonomists and phylogeneticists, owing to the diversity and the relatively rapid rate of divergence within their family tree. The precise taxonomic relationships within the Mustelidae are thus much debated. Recent studies on Mustelidae have clarified the genetic and morphological differentiations even in single species, sometimes leading to re-classification to multiple species in agreement with the original descriptions. The phylogeographic data also contribute to further understanding the zoogeographical history including occurrence of refugia for mammals, which are currently widespread.
In terms of behaviour/ecology, carnivores use a wide variety of odors. The odors are important not only in tracking prey but in a variety of information exchange and individual recognition. They possess many specialized scent glands, and also use feces and urine for communication. Evolutionary theory predicts that speciation should enable members of distinct species to recognize each other as such, despite their large geographic range.

In this session, we focus on “Mustelidae”, “Asia”, and “Far East”. Based on morphology and molecular phylogeny, we would like to show the phylogeographic features of mustelid species with wide ranges in the Eurasian continent and/or the Japanese islands, and discuss their zoogeographical history. Furthermore, we provide a wide range of behavioural aspects to discuss evolution in Mustelidae, leading conservation measures especially in Asia and the Far East.

Phylogeography over multiple time scales – genetics of mammalian populations in a changing world (click to toggle description)

Petr Kotlik, Institute of Animal Physiology and Genetics, Czech Republic; Jeremy Searle, Cornell University, USA.

Phylogeography is a discipline of evolutionary biology that focuses on genetic variation in a geographic context, to inform about changing distribution of species, including colonisation of particular areas. It may encompass the whole species distribution or a small part. In the context of mammals in a changing world, phylogeography may relate to the documentation of a recent mammalian invasion, brought about by a human introduction, or it may relate to much more ancient movements of mammals at high latitudes due to recolonisation of continental areas after the end of the last glaciation. And many other situations besides. Changes in distribution of mammals reflect the changing world, either natural changes in climate and habitat, or events brought about by humans (introductions, habitat destruction and creation, human mediated-climate change etc.). Genetic studies of mammals in a geographic context can help elucidate these distributional changes. These studies can involve studies of specimens from current populations (modern DNA) but can also involve studies of past populations (ancient DNA). The symposium will include a mix of talks relating to phylogeography applied to naturally changing distributions over thousand-year time scales and to much more recent human-mediated changing distributions.

Safe havens for threatened mammals - islands and exclosures
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Sarah Legge, University of Queensland, Australia; Keith Morris, Western Australian Department of Parks and Wildlife, Australia; John Woinarski, Charles Darwin University, Australia.

Islands represent an extraordinary challenge and opportunity for the conservation of the world’s mammals. Island-endemic mammal species are disproportionately represented in extinctions of the world’s mammals. Conversely, in many places, islands have provided safe havens from threatening factors that have affected mammal species across a broader former range. In recent decades, ‘mainland islands’ (typically comprising predator-proof exclosures) have been increasingly used to replicate this threat-free haven function, and have allowed for some successful reintroductions of threatened mammal species to parts of their historic range. This symposium will provide a status review of the conservation management use of islands and exclosures, limitations in such use, and seek to identify key strategic priorities for the future role of islands and exclosures for mammal conservation.

Genomic responses to environmental variation (click to toggle description)

Enrique Lessa, Universidad de la República, Uruguay; Joseph Cook, University of New Mexico, USA.

High throughput sequencing has opened new opportunities to understand the consequences of and responses to environmental variation of mammalian species.  These responses include genomic and transcriptomic changes across ecogeographical variation, impacts of environmental change on mammalian species, and evolution of genomes at the phylogenetic scale.  The symposium seeks to present ongoing studies of mammalian species along these dimensions that make use of diverse datasets and analytical approaches at different scales.

Integrated foraging ecology and the magnetism of food patches: why visit and why quit? (click to toggle description)

Clare McArthur (University of Sydney, Australia),
Adrian Shrader (University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa)
Lisa Shipley (Washington State University, USA)
Peter Banks (University of Sydney, Australia).

Foraging ecology seeks to understand the drivers behind where animals go and what they eat in a spatiotemporal context. To date, much of the theory is about why animals quit patches: the extrinsic and intrinsic factors animals incorporate in rules governing decisions of when to leave. But patch quitting is only part of the foraging story. An equally important question is – why visit in the first place? Deciding which patches to visit involves perception, attention, learning, cognition, and detection of cues in reasonably short timeframes; overlaid by factors acting on a longer timeframe and associated with background risks, nutritional status, experience and memory of the foraging landscape. So an integrated foraging theory should incorporate the question of “why visit?” as well as the question “why quit?” We explore these questions with a focus on mammalian herbivores. We introduce a conceptual model of food patches as a landscape of magnets that attract and repel; and consider the rules animals use to manoeuvre through this magnetic landscape at small temporal scales associated with visiting and quitting patches. The final discussion will explore plasticity in herbivores in choosing patches (both attraction and leaving) in relation to changing conditions over different time scales.

Marine Mammal Symposium – survival in a changing world
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Rebecca McIntosh, Phillip Island Nature Parks, Australia; Olaf Meynecke, Griffith University, Australia; Rachael Gray, University of Sydney, Australia.

The world’s ocean provides the largest ecosystem on earth, which are also the least understood. Marine mammals are excellent sentinels for examining responses to changes in these systems. The response of marine mammals to drastic shifts in the environment provides an important indicator for understanding spatial and temporal scales of change. Technological advances are enhancing our ability to study this group of aquatic mammals, leading to a better understanding of how species respond to change. Many of the technologies employed in marine mammal research are applied across mammalian research: remote telemetry, acoustic monitoring, ecotoxicology, and sophisticated genetic techniques are just some examples. These technologies allow us to explore relationships between marine mammals and their ecosystems, and monitor responses of individuals and populations to changes arising through climate change and increasing anthropogenic effects. This symposium provides an opportunity to showcase marine mammal research on an international platform. While many methods for researching marine mammals are specific to the ocean environment, the International Mammal Conference will provide an opportunity to compare technologies and trends in mammal research on a global scale; broadening discussions and encouraging inter-disciplinary comparisons across themes common to all mammals in a changing world.

Challenges and solutions in using remote sensing equipment in mammal research and monitoring (click to toggle description)
Paul Meek, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries & University of New England, Australia; Roland Kays, North Carolina State University & North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, USA; Bill McShea, Smithsonian Institution, USA; Guy Ballard, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries & University of New England, Australia; Chris Rota, West Virginia University, USA; Karl Vernes, University of New England, Australia; Jim Sanderson, Wildlife Conservation Network, USA; Al Glen, Landcare Research, New Zealand.

Camera traps are now a standard but constantly improving tool in studying and monitoring mammals. This has led to a cycle of innovation where new technology provides better data, which allows scientists to address more sophisticated research questions, although often only after creating new statistical techniques. Keeping up with this rapidly developing field is challenging, but exciting. This symposium will bring together camera trap expertise from all over the world including engineers and computer scientists integrating the latest technologies, statisticians creating new analytical tools, and ecologists and conservation biologists using the results to test theories and improve the management of mammals. The symposia will provide the opportunity for researchers and managers to identify challenges and issues with existing tools and share their latest innovations and discoveries. This will include presentations on best practices in how to design, implement and manage landscape scale projects, reflecting the field's shift to larger and larger scale research.

Macroevolution meets microecology: consequences for diversity, communities, populations and individuals (click to toggle description)

Douglas Morris, Lakehead University, Canada; Burt Kotler, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel; Joel Brown, University of Illinois, USA.

Efforts to conserve mammalian species centre on identifying immediate threats and either ameliorating them or finding ways to maintain captive populations until such time as descendants can be released into the wild. Such well-intentioned recovery programs either do not, or are unable to, incorporate the eco-evolutionary feedbacks that ultimately give rise to patterns of diversity, coexistence, demography, and adaptive behaviours. Continuing advances in theory and practice demonstrate the crucial importance of an eco-evolutionary world view. They also point toward an ability to improve conservation by linking the behaviour of individuals to demography, density dependence, species coexistence, and patterns of diversity. We thus aim to bring together world leaders working at the dynamic interface between evolution and ecology. In order to guarantee a full program we will reserve Doug Morris as a backup keynote speaker. We will charge each speaker with the responsibility to demonstrate with theory and data how an understanding of the processes influencing individual organisms can translate to populations, communities, regional diversity, and phylogeny. Our speakers run the gamut from macroevolution (Elizabeth Hadly) to the behaviour of individual mammals (Burt Kotler). They link game theory (Joel Brown) with adaptive dynamics (Jörgen Ripa), and they merge population processes (Robert Holt) with emergent patterns of diversity in time and space (Mike Rosenzweig).

Our choice of speakers builds on our experiences with several earlier IMC symposia and on a highly successful 2015 mini-symposium on the “Adaptive evolution of extinction” to be published as a special issue of Evolutionary Ecology Research (EER). The 2015 symposium at the University of Arizona was dedicated toward understanding extinction. Our plan for IMC 12 will be to challenge speakers to turn that knowledge into solutions that we will publish in a subsequent issue of EER. We suspect that Congress participants from a wide variety of research fields will feel welcome in our symposium, that they will nominate it for their presentation, and that it will attract colleagues who otherwise might not have attended the Congress.

From the Pleistocene to the Anthropocene: fossils, genes and the future of Caribbean mammals (click to toggle description)

Alexis Mychajliw, Stanford University, USA.

Mammalian diversity in the Anthropocene is rapidly declining. A disrupted climate, habitat conversion and deforestation, and the movement of species and diseases outside of their native ranges all interact with a burgeoning human population to create substantial obstacles to species survival. These forces of our changing world are inexorably magnified on island systems, resulting in insular mammal extinction rates that drastically exceed their continental counterparts. Despite this recent erosion of biodiversity, islands as microcosms of global change can deliver broad lessons to guide the future of mammalian conservation.

The Caribbean mammal fauna provides a significant opportunity to evaluate responses to global change across the recent past, as well as a laboratory for applying these historical records for direct conservation action. Multiple waves of culturally distinct humans (Europeans and indigenous Taino peoples) and the non-native species that accompanied them have radically transformed the Caribbean's ecosystems. Today, the islands of the Greater and Lesser Antilles harbor ~53 native mammal species (14 hutia, 2 solenodon, 37 bat), many of which are threatened by human activities. Explorations of the recent paleontological record (~15,000 years ago), however, have revealed a past mammalian fauna of 100+ species, including extinct endemic families and genera of sloths, rodents, monkeys, and shrew-like insectivores. The mechanisms underlying their extinction and the associated ecological consequences, including those extending into the modern day, are active areas of research.

The Caribbean mammal community’s rich paleontological record, urgent conservation needs (deforestation, exploitation, and invasive species), and established chronology of historic anthropogenic impacts provides a hypothesis-testing framework to examine how mammals can and will respond to environmental challenges. In this symposium, we will link investigations of the Caribbean’s extraordinary evolutionary diversity with an evaluation of modern management dilemmas and opportunities to create a roadmap for the future. Applying an interdisciplinary toolkit of paleontology, genetics, ecology, and conservation science, and spanning multiple mammalian orders, we will outline the causes, consequences, and solutions for mammalian survival in a changing world.

Mammalian health and disease (click to toggle description)
Julie Old, University of Western Sydney, Australia.

Conservation and management of mammals is reliant on our understanding of the health and disease status of individuals and populations. We need to understand how mammals maintain their health to enable successful breeding, allowing populations to thrive in both captive and wild environments. This symposium is aimed at all aspects of health and disease among mammalian populations, and individuals, and may include case studies on specific diseases or parasites relating to mammals, aspects of mammalian immunology, including developmental immunology, immunological fitness, measurement of health parameters, regulation of nutrients, or any other aspects of health and disease relating to mammals.

Behaviour and ecology of dryland mammals (click to toggle description)

Chris Pavey, CSIRO, Australia; Chris Dickman, University of Sydney, Australia; Thomas Newsome, University of Sydney, Australia; Aaron Greenville, University of Sydney, Australia; Amanda McLean, University of Adelaide, Australia;  Helen Waudby, Charles Sturt University, Australia; Lauren Young, University of Sydney, Australia.

Dryland environments cover almost half of the world’s landmass. However, given the remote locations of many dryland regions and the logistical challenges of working in these areas, many species that reside here are understudied. Mammal species that call these dryland regions home are uniquely adapted to cope with low, and potentially variable, annual rainfall. Previous studies of dryland mammals have largely focused on their physiology, however, in a changing climate, the management and conservation of mammals in dryland regions will rely heavily on our understanding of the ecology and behaviour of these species. With that in mind, the aim of this symposium is to provide an overview of the current research on the behaviour and ecology of dryland mammals globally and create discussion on regional similarities/ differences and potential management options in the future.

Mammal predator research and management programs: ecological and ethical considerations (click to toggle description)
Gilbert Proulx, Alpha Wildlife Research & Management, Canada.

This symposium addresses concerns and issues associated with the study and management (e.g. control, sterilization, etc.) of predators in today’s research and conservation programs. These concerns and issues relate to the scientific basis of culling programs, the use of humane and effective research and management techniques, the ethics of handling and killing predators, the “3 Rs,” (Replacement, Reduction, Refinement) approach to the use of animals in field research, socio-political concerns, multi-species management approaches, etc. In a nutshell, mammal predator research and management programs have ecological and ethical considerations that need to be re-visited and re-evaluated by the international mammalogical community in a changing world.

Managing novel communities and multiple threats to achieve biodiversity outcomes (click to toggle description)
Euan Ritchie, Deakin University, Australia; Tim Doherty, Deakin University, Australia; Dale Nimmo, Charles Sturt University, Australia.

Dr Eve McDonald-Madden, University of Queensland, Australia.

The creation of novel mammal communities comprised of both native and introduced species has disrupted the balance of many ecosystems. Interactions between these species and with ecological disturbances such as habitat loss, fire, and disease threatens many species with extinction. Because mammals influence ecosystems through predation, grazing, pollination, bioturbation and other ecosystem services, their loss from ecological communities can have profound and cascading consequences. As such, the aim of this symposium is to provide an overview and case studies of how conservation scientists and practitioners are meeting these complex ecological challenges to achieve positive outcomes for mammal conservation, and ecosystem restoration more broadly.

The global extinction risk for mammals: recent trends and future perspectives
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Carlo Rondinini, Sapienza Università di Roma, Italy; Michael Hoffman, United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre, UK.

By the end of 2016, all 6000+ mammals described so far will be reassessed by the IUCN Red List, for the first time since 2008. This will provide a unique opportunity to update our knowledge of their global extinction risk, their main threats, the effectiveness of conservation actions undertaken to tackle these threats. Following the 1996 assessment and the 2008 reassessment, the 2016 reassessment will provide the third point in time, reaching a time span of 20 years to estimate the aggregate trend in extinction risk (Red List Index) with a consistent methodology across space and time for the whole class. Analyses based on scenarios of climate change and land use change will project these trends under possible future scenarios. Cutting edge analyses of mammal diversity, and how this is influenced by humans, will show the extent to which anthropogenic impacts have transcended single species and hit community structure and macroecological patterns. Taxon- and region-specific analyses will showcase the complexity of the challenges experienced by conservationists to preserve this diverse group across the world.

The biology of Canids in human dominated landscapes (click to toggle description)

Claudio Sillero-Zubiri, University of Oxford, UK; Abi Tamim Vanak, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, India.

The Canidae are distributed worldwide across varied landscapes, displaying a great diversity of ecological and behavioural traits. As undisturbed ecosystems shrink and the interface between human activities and wild species continues to grow, wild canid populations progressively occupy agricultural land, plantations, managed forests, mining ranges, suburban and urban areas. Canids vary in their ability to coexist with human endeavour and several species conflict with people, often feared and persecuted as livestock raiders (and more rarely for attacks on people). Increasingly, in these human dominated landscapes, domestic dogs impact upon their wild relatives, through disease transmission, competition and hybridization.

Some canid populations may thrive in these human dominated systems, while others may become locally extinct. Understanding their responses to changing environments is key to determining which types of changes are beneficial or detrimental to wild canids, what are the thresholds of change beyond which threatened canids may succumb, what is their role in delivering ecosystem services, and, what conservation strategies may help foster coexistence. In this symposium we will look at ecological and behavioural adaptations in canid species resulting from a changing world, and explore the challenges and any opportunities arising for the persistence of wild canids in human-dominated landscapes.

The importance of the fossil record to resolve key questions in taxonomy, phylogeny, evolution and conservation (click to toggle description)

Kenny Travouillon, Western Australian Museum, Australia; Natalie Warburton, Murdoch University, Australia.

The mammal fossil record of Australia is fairly sparse compared to other continents. Despite this paucity, many fossil sites have contributed to our understanding of the evolution of Australian mammals, with the description of ancestors to the modern species as well as completely extinct families. Recent advances in mammalian phylogeny have relied on fossil taxa for calibration as well as validation of the results. The fossil record is also helping conservation decisions using our understanding of past environments and living fossils.

Individual differences in mammalogical research: it’s not just about personality (click to toggle description)

Koa Webster, Macquarie University, Australia.

Clare McArthur, University of Sydney, Australia; Melissa Jensen, University of Adelaide, Australia; Valentina Mella, University of Sydney, Australia.

Personality has been the focus of recent research on variation among individuals in non-human mammals. But this emphasis on behaviour misses an important component of individual variation that may be equally significant in ecology and evolution, i.e. physiology (for example, dietary physiology and stress responses).

The symposium will look at both components of individual variation that together are dual drivers of individual fitness. All proposed speakers are actively engaged in research investigating individual differences in mammals, and the talks will cover a range of different studies. In the final discussion, we will synthesise the preceding talks, with a focus on the future possibilities of this field of research, specifically (1) identifying gaps in our understanding, (2) defining future research to model and empirically test how individual behaviour and physiology co-vary, and (3) predicting how change in climate and in landscape characteristics should alter individual responses in conservation and management.

Advances in research and conservation of small African carnivores
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Paula White, University of California Los Angeles, USA; Emmanuel Do Linh San, University of Fort Hare, South Africa.

Small African carnivores (<15 kg) comprise 35% of the overall extant carnivore species worldwide. Yet small carnivores remain vastly understudied in proportion to their biodiversity. In particular, although carnivores are known to have profound ecological effects throughout food webs within the communities that they occupy, little is known of most small African carnivore species regarding basic biology, diet, population size, density, interspecific interactions or other attributes relating to their ecological roles. In this symposium, we first review the current state of our knowledge regarding small African carnivore species, with a goal to identifying data gaps and prioritizing recommendations for future studies. We then examine the advances in methodologies for studying small African carnivores, focusing on the types of data available using past and present techniques while projecting what new technologies might be best applied to increase data quality and quantity in future studies. Further, we examine two independent studies involving conspecifics. The first represents a rare, exhaustive ecological study of Genetta maculata in a conservation area, while the second compares the spatial ecology of G. genetta occupying conservation and communal lands. We invite additional speakers to this symposium. Specifically, we welcome presentations that demonstrate significant advances in conservation, research approaches or new technologies that may prove useful for studying small carnivores in African environments.

Pangolins in Peril: The race to save the world’s most trafficked mammal
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Carly Waterman, IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group, UK; Daniel W.S. Challender, IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group, UK; Desire Dalton, National Zoological Gardens of South Africa; Professor Antoinette Kotze, National Zoological Gardens of South Africa; Professor Ray Jansen, African Pangolin Working Group/Tshawane University of Technology, South Africa.

Occurring in both Africa and Asia, the eight species of pangolin - all of which come under one taxonomic Family (Manidae) and one Order (Pholidota) – have historically been exploited locally for food and medicine (Challender et al. 2015). However as wild populations plummet, and demand for pangolins and their derivatives in the illegal wildlife trade continues to soar, they are now thought to be one of the most heavily traded mammalian families internationally (Challender et al.,2014), and are considered by many to be amongst the most threatened species in Asia (Newton et al. 2008).
Despite their popularity in international trade in wildlife pangolins have, until recently, remained little studied and poorly understood (Challender et al. 2014). Quantitative data on wild populations of all species is lacking, understanding of reproductive and behavioural ecology is poor (Challender et al. 2015), and there has been little research on the nutritional, veterinary health and husbandry needs of pangolins in captivity (Lin et al. 2015; Yang et al. 2007).

Recent years, however, have seen a resurgence of interest in pangolins, with the reformation of the IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group in 2012, an increased awareness and interest in the plight of these species amongst the world’s conservation organisations, and a flurry of peer reviewed papers on pangolin ecology, physiology and conservation biology published. This symposium invites speakers to contribute to the growing understanding of pangolins and their conservation, and to share this knowledge with the wider scientific community.

The role of climate and environmental change in megafaunal extinctions
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Alan Cooper, University of Adelaide, Australia; Chris Turney, University of New South Wales, Australia.

There is increasing evidence that the tempo and mode of climate and environmental change were key factors in the different megafaunal extinction patterns that took place around the world in the Late Pleistocene and Holocene. New high resolution climate and paleovegetation records, ancient and modern genetic datasets and analytical approaches, and improved dating methods are producing a range of detailed datasets from around the world, including the southern hemisphere. The role of rapid warming events, and associated vegetation and human activity patterns, has recently been identified as a key driver in genetic change across Eurasia and North and South America. This symposium will bring together the latest research across the paleoclimate, paleovegetation and ecology, genetics and dating fields with the aim of quantifying the nature of mammalian population response to a variety of past episodes of environmental change around the world, with a special emphasis on new data from the southern hemisphere.

Ecologically-based management of mammalian pests in a changing world - progress and prospects (click to toggle description)
Jens Jacob, Julius Kühn-Institut, Germany; Steve Belmain, University of Greenwich, UK; Grant Singleton, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI); Philippines

Mammalian pest species are diverse and widespread across the world. They provide several substantial ecosystem services and are important for ecosystem integrity and function. However, some species (or populations) can interfere with human interest regarding zoonotic diseases, competition with native fauna, competition with livestock, effects on native flora, crop damage, and damage to stored produce and infrastructure.

Such species or populations need to be managed by human intervention to minimise adverse effects. Problems are diverse as are management approaches that need to be tailored to solve problems or at least mitigate adverse effects in a way suitable for all interest groups affected. This symposium will provide examples of how to handle major challenges in vertebrate management regarding target and non-target populations as well as environmental, social, ecological, and economical aspects. It will cover various taxa and geographical areas aiming to collate the scientific knowledge provided by international experts to identify optimal management approaches, knowledge gaps and future research objectives.



Non-invasive or minimally invasive methods to evaluate reproductive and stress hormones in free-ranging wildlife (click to toggle description)
Tamara Keeley, University of Queensland, Australia; Martin Dehnhard, Leibniz Institute for Zoo & Wildlife Research, Germany; Dr. Kerry Fanson, Deakin University, Australia.

Recent developments of new and innovative methods for reproductive and adrenal hormone monitoring, as well as the latest advances in basic endocrinology as applied to adrenal function, reproductive physiology, animal health, and ecology will be discussed. This workshop will explore biological sample type options (eg. faecal, urine, hair etc), sample collection and preservation considerations, validation of analysis techniques, data interpretation challenges and highlighting through examples the potential benefits/contribution of non-invasive hormone analysis to monitoring the health and fecundity of wild animal populations.

Working towards developing an action plan for small mammals: priorities and future research directions for Australasia and insular Southeast Asia (click to toggle description)
Rosalind Kennerley, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, UK.

The IUCN SSC Small Mammal Specialist Group (SMSG) represents rodents, shrews, moles, solenodons, hedgehogs and tree-shrews, and is therefore responsible for more than 2800 species, accounting for over half of all mammal species. In this workshop we will bring together a panel of experts from across different disciplines to give a series of short talks reviewing the current knowledge and understanding of this group of species, before holding a structured working session around the topics of research and conservation plans for the future.

By the end of 2016 the Red List assessments and reassessments for all species in the group will have been completed. This provides the SMSG with the ideal opportunity to undertake global analyses on the data to identify key regions for threatened and Data Deficient (DD) species. The results of these analyses will be presented during the workshop. One of the greatest challenges that the SMSG faces is how to address and reduce the large number of DD species. In the 2008 assessment 447 were listed under this category, in many cases this was due uncertainty of taxonomy within families and this topic will form the second of the talks. The important gaps in our scientific understanding of the taxonomy within the group will be discussed and the developing role of molecular approaches in conservation, especially in revealing cryptic species groups, will be highlighted. The second cause of the high number of DD species is that there is often a paucity of even basic ecological information about the species and consequently it is not possible to apply the Red List Criteria. This subject will be considered in the third talk.

The design, logistics and data use of large camera-trapping projects
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Bill McShea, Smithsonian Institution, USA; Roland Kays, North Carolina State University & North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, USA; Patrick Jansen, Smithsonian Institution, USA.

The use of camera-traps to detect mammals has evolved into a major tool for mammal ecologists. This workshop would cover the logistics of designing and conducting a large scale project based around camera trap images. The organizers are leaders of a major wildlife image repository (> 5 million images) mostly collected by citizen scientists trained, managed, and retained through a web portal (  Besides the primary research aim of each project, there is a shared data standard that allows temporal and spatial comparisons across projects. The data are accessible to the general public and science curriculum is based around both camera trapping and data analysis. The organizers would review relevant topics to setting up and conducting a large-scale project, the data and volunteer management, and use and analysis of the data. Participants will be trained in the eMammal software and R scripts set up for analysis.

Topics include:  Utility of camera trapping; important considerations in camera selection and study design; recruitment and retention of volunteers; camera trapping as an education tool to teach science concepts and to connect students to nature; project organization; data management; data standards, rights and permissions; data analysis appropriate for occurrence data; use of eMammal desktop and expert review applications; future needs.

Setting up conservation priorities for threatened canids (click to toggle description)
Claudio Sillero-Zubiri, University of Oxford, UK.

Contemporary canids are the most widely distributed family of the Carnivora, with members on every continent besides Antarctica. While most canids are widely distributed, several relatively common species are persecuted as livestock raiders.  Others have very restricted distributions and small, isolated populations. For example, Ethiopian wolves (Canis simensis) are restricted to a few mountain enclaves, Darwin’s foxes (Pseudalopex fulvipes) are endemic to coastal forests in southern Chile, and Sechuran foxes (P. sechurae) are restricted to the costal deserts of north Peru and south Ecuador. While more widespread and abundant, dholes (Cuon alpinu), short-eared foxes (Atelocynus microtis) and bush dogs (Speothos venaticus) are forest specialists of particular concern, due to the rapid fragmentation of their forest habitats and our insufficient understanding of their biology. An additional and increasing threat for many canids concerns the impact of domestic dogs upon their wild relatives, through disease transmission, competition and hybridization.
This workshop will offer the opportunity to: a) review the state of knowledge of a few selected threatened canid populations, and b) discuss research and conservation priorities for those threatened canids.

We expect many members of the Canid Specialist Group working on canids across continents to attend the IMC12, and several colleagues have already communicated their interest in the workshop and offered possible oral presentations and posters.