BASC’s science officer Heather Warrender discusses the findings from the recent International Union of Game Biologists conference in Budapest.
Every other year game scientists from around the world gather at the International Union of Game Biologists (IUGB) to present and discuss their latest research and findings.
BASC has a long-standing association with the conference. Indeed, members of our team have attended the conference and presented our latest research for the last 20 years.
The event offers an opportunity to connect with other scientists, share findings and see their work could be replicated in the UK.
This year marked the 35th IUGB, held at the HUNGEXPO in Budapest, Hungary.
With more than 45 presentations and a further 40+ posters brought forward to the conference, there was a vast array of research on show. These covered a range of issues and research areas, from managing human-wildlife conflicts, to conserving genetic diversity of wildlife whilst faced with habitat connectivity issues or hybridisation with introduced species.
For the first time, this year saw the creation of the Young Wildlifers Forum (YWF). The initiative aimed to encourage young game biologists to attend the conference.
The forum set out to recognise the young professionals’ contribution to conservation by submitting their research work and presenting their results to the broader public. Fair to say I jumped at the opportunity to get involved.
The YWF was highly successful. Thirty attendees came together to discuss issues we face, research gaps and how we can work collaboratively to boost interest and awareness of our subject areas.
Following its success this year, it is hoped it will grow year-on-year.
My role at the conference was to present findings from a pilot study within BASC’s Wing Survey, BASC’s collaborative project with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT).
The study investigated whether photographs of goose wings can be used to assess age ratios.
For a variety of reasons, the number of goose wings contributed to the Wing Survey in previous years has been relatively low. The pilot attempted to find a way to boost the amount of goose wings and so grow our data-set.
Our wildfowlers did not disappoint. The efforts of our keen goose shooters meant that the photographs of goose wings were a complete success, and in spite of the best efforts of Covid-19 to disrupt things, we received more data than ever before.
When presenting my findings, I met a researcher from University of Latvia who is also running a wing survey with hunters. Their survey also uses photographs, but for all species.
This is interesting as duck species can be difficult to determine, in terms of age and sex, even when in the hand. Having shown that this is possible, we hope that the UK can follow Latvia’s example and that the method could be taken up in the UK in the future.
Conferences such as IUGB offer great opportunities to discuss and compare how we run our own projects and learn how we can improve our methodology.
This year’s renewal has unquestionably enhanced our opportunities for collaboration in the future, which in turn works towards BASC’s objective of monitoring our wildfowl populations. These opportunities not only in the UK but across Europe and into their breeding grounds too and we look forward to exploring the potential for joined up research going forward.