69th WDA / 14th EWDA - Joint Conference - Cuenca, Spain


Pre-conference workshops will be celebrated on Monday, August 31, 2020, just before the official opening of the Conference.

The workshops will not have SIMULTANEOUS TRANSLATION into Spanish.

The preliminary list includes 6 different and exciting workshops to choose during registration. The attendance fee covers any item required for the workshop as well as coffee breaks and lunch.

The current list of workshops for the 69th WDA / 14th EWDA Joint Conference is:


Organisers: Frank Pasmans (Ghent University), Matthew Gray (University of Tennessee), An Martel (Ghent University), Molly Bletz (University of Massachusetts-Boston and Amphibian Survival Alliance), Andrew Cunningham (Zoological Society of London), and Debra Miller (University of Tennessee and Wildlife Disease Association)

Outline: Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) is a recently discovered fungal pathogen that causes a necrotizing skin disease in susceptible amphibian species and is currently emerging on the European continent. Bsal is believed to be from Asia and was probably introduced to Europe through international trade of amphibians. Its presence on other continents remains unknown but several nations have begun surveillance programs due to Bsal’s potential to devastate amphibian biodiversity. Initial susceptibility trials suggest that over two-thirds of North American salamander species are susceptible to infection and about one-third have low infection tolerance and develop the disease, Bsal chytridiomycosis. These findings highlight the urgent need to prioritize crucial epidemiological and ecological research on Bsal, pursue policy and legislative measures at national and international scales, and identify effective management strategies. This symposium will bring together scientists, veterinarians, natural resource practitioners, and students from across continents and disciplines to share the most recent findings on Bsal, discuss implications, and brainstorm about how approaches to disease management might differ among nations. Synthesis talks, research presentations, organized discussions, and four workshops will be included to facilitate learning and discussion. In the morning, synthesis talks will provide continental summaries (Europe, North America, Asia) on the state of Bsal understanding, which will set the stage for up to 20 research presentations. Panel discussions will provide opportunity for speaker engagement. The morning will culminate with identifying urgent research needs in facilitated discussion groups on topics that are identified by participants. In the afternoon, four consecutive Bsal workshops (diagnostics, decision support, and modeling invasion and host tolerance) will advance the knowledge and skills of participants. Symposium and workshop participants will develop a full understanding of Bsal ecology, host immune defenses, and possible management strategies, and will play a role in identifying urgent future research, policy, and communication needs for addressing the threat Bsal that poses to global amphibian diversity. From the apparent endemism in Asia to the epidemic outbreaks currently in Spain and Germany, from the limited policy around wildlife health to the immense threat of Bsal to the Americas, it is time to foster international collaborations, engage in synergistic discussion and learning across biological scales and disciplines, and take action to combat this emerging infectious disease.

Participants: 100

Fee: €50

08.30-08.35 Welcome
08.35-09.55 Synthesis talks1 (4 talks: 20 min each)
09.55-10.10 Panel Discussion I
10.15-10.45 Rapid Research2 (6 or 10 talks = 5 or 3 min each)
10.45-11.00 Panel Discussion II
11.00-11.15 Coffee Break
11.15-11.45 Rapid Research2 (6 or 10 talks = 5 or 3 min each)
11.45-12.00 Panel Discussion III
12.00-13.00 Structured Discussions3
13.00-14.00 Lunch (onsite)
14.00-14.45 Workshop #14
14.45-16.00 Workshop #25
16.00-16.30 Coffee Break
16.30-17.30 Workshop #36
17.30-18.30 Workshop #46

1Synthesis Talks: Frank Pasmans (Ghent University), Bruce Waldman (Oklahoma State University), Matt Gray (University of Tennessee), and colleagues will deliver syntheses on the state of Bsal research in Europe, Asia and North America, respectively. Molly Bletz (University of Massachusetts-Boston) and colleagues will deliver the final talk on components of the Bsal disease triangle.
2Rapid Research Presentations: These will be 3 or 5-min presentations (length dependent of number of submissions). The call for abstracts is due 15 March and can be submitted on the Conference website.  Abstracts not selected will have the opportunity to be delivered as an oral or poster presentation in a regular WDA session.
3Structured Discussions: Participants will identify key discussion topics prior to the symposium. Breakout groups will be created for the top 4 – 6 selected topics. A topic expert will facilitate the discussion. Goal: Identify urgent research directions for each topic and highlight differences among continents. Each group facilitator will deliver a 3-5 minute summary of the discussion. We anticipate 10 minutes for instructions and group formation, 30 min for discussion, and 15-20 minutes for sharing group findings.
4Workshop #1: Doing it right: Diagnosis of Bsal chytridiomycosis
Organisers: Frank Pasmans and An Martel (University of Ghent), and Allan Pessier (Washington State University).
Summary: The emergence of Bsal in European amphibian communities has sparked the interest in amphibian diagnostics. While a fast and accurate diagnosis allows rapid initiation of emergency action plans to halt Bsal establishment in natural systems, amphibian diagnostics tend to be oversimplified to running qPCRs on skin swabs. Both false positive and false negative results may have far-reaching consequences and no single diagnostic technique provides 100% specificity or sensitivity. During this workshop, we will demonstrate how and why confirmation of a Bsal outbreak requires at least two independent and complementary diagnostic approaches. An overview of proper sampling techniques, relevant clinical signs, macroscopic and microscopic lesions and methods to identify the fungal agent will be provided to minimize the likelihood of false positive and false negative results and to maximize chances of early interception of Bsal invasion.
5Workshop #2: Rational decision making for wildlife disease control: an introduction to decision analysis
Organisers: Stefano Canessa (Ghent University), and Evan H. Campbell Grant (United States Geological Survey).
Summary: Decision analysis is the ensemble of principles and tools for making rational decisions in the face of uncertainty. With over eight decades of development in the literature of business, marketing, economics, and behavioural psychology, decision analysis is routinely applied to many human activities like warfare, finance, engineering and healthcare. Increasingly, conservation science is turning to decision analysis to help maintain and restore biodiversity.
As wildlife diseases continue to challenge conservationists worldwide, the use of decision analysis is finding new utility in identifying effective mitigation strategies. At a minimum, it provides technical tools for solving quantitative problems, such as optimizing vaccination campaigns. However, the true value of decision analysis is in rational evaluation of the entire decision-making process, including the framing of conservation problems, focusing learning and finding solutions for problems too complex for intuition.
In this workshop, we will use our experience working on the research-management interface to outline the principles of a decision-analytic process for mitigation of wildlife diseases, with particular focus on B. salamandrivorans. We will discuss how different sources of uncertainty affect research and management decisions. We will then introduce expected value of information analysis, a decision-analytic tool to identify which uncertainties most affect management decisions, and thus identify research priorities.
Participants will then carry out a practice value of information analysis for Bsal, focusing on uncertainties in the comparison between the North American and European invasion context, and between laboratory and field studies. We will conclude with a brief discussion on how decision analysis could further assist Bsal mitigation.
6Workshops #3 & #4: From the host to the population: Linking individual-level infection data to amphibian-Bsal population dynamics with Integral Projection Models
Organisers: Mark Wilber & Cherie Briggs (University of California-Santa Barbara).
Summary: In the first part of this hands-on workshop, we will present an introduction to disease modeling in R. This will include calculating R0, and using ordinary differential equations to explore disease dynamics in R. In the second part, we will cover how to use Integral Projection Models (IPMs) to link individual-level infection data from the laboratory to population-level predictions of host-pathogen dynamics. We will give a theoretical overview of host-parasite IPMs and their similarities to standard host-macroparasite models. We will then cover the basics of implementing and analyzing a host-parasite IPM including fitting vital rate functions, simulating infection dynamics through time, and calculating R0. Finally, participants will work with actual Bsal infection data to parameterize an IPM in order to compare and contrast the invasion potential of Bsal between a North American and European salamander species. At the end of the workshop, the participants will have the necessary resources to implement and analyze a host-parasite IPM for their own system. Participants should bring their own laptop with the programming language R and the IDE RStudio installed. A basic familiarity with coding in R will be assumed (e.g. assigning variables, plotting, manipulating dataframes, and writing functions).

Download Flyer:  BsalFlyer2020.pdf

Organisers: Olivier Restif (University of Cambridge), Lucinda Kirkpatrick (Antwerp University) and Emmanuel Serrano-Ferron (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona).

Outline: Serology is commonly used to test animals for pathogen or parasite exposure and is often the only effective approach to survey wildlife reservoirs of zoonotic infections. However, the interpretation of assays is fraught with difficulties with non-model species in the absence of reliable experimental validation. This workshop will review methods for quantitative analysis of serological data in relation to the dynamics of wildlife diseases and allow participants to share their experience. We will demonstrate how these methods have been used in recent studies and highlight the key concepts, assumptions and limitations underlying the models. Breakout groups will allow focused discussion on a range of scientific and technical issues identified in the morning sessions. With support from the Journal of Wildlife Diseases, the workshop will produce at least one review paper to which participants will be invited to contribute.

Participants: 30

Fee: €50

09.00-10.30 Introduction, presentation of methods and case studies
10.30-11.00 Demonstration of numerical methods 1
11.00-11.30 Coffee break
11.30-12.00 Demonstration of numerical methods 2
12.00-13.00 Short presentations and discussion
13.00-14.00 Lunch break (onsite)
14.00-15.00 Breakout groups:
   Serology: validation and interpretation of assays
   Data analysis and modelling
   Wildlife epidemiology
15.00-15.30 Reporting
15.30-16.00 Coffee break
16.00-17.00 Outline of review paper(s) and action plans. 

Session I (09.00-10.30): presentation of quantitative methods and case studies
Objective: familiarise participants with a set of quantitative methods for seroepidemiology. We are currently planning to cover three main categories of models:
   1 - Statistical models: setting cutoffs for seropositivity, regression models.
   2 - Force-of-infection: using age-specific seroprevalence to infer R0, transmission and loss of immunity.
   3 - Dynamic models: using longitudinal data to infer complex dynamics of infection, immunity and demography.
The theory and assumptions behind each type of model will be presented, and their use will be illustrated from published case studies.

Session II (10.30-12.00): demonstration of methods
Objective: demonstrate some of the methods using R.
We will explain and demonstrate how different types of models can be implemented in R using publicly available packages. The demonstrations will be based on published datasets, which will be shared with the participants alongside script files. If there is enough interest, one of the afternoon breakout groups will allow participants to test the code on their laptops.

Session III (12.00- 13.00): short presentations and discussion
Objective: invite contributions from participants.Up to five short presentations (“blitz talks”) from registered participants will be selected by the organisers based on their relevance to the workshop. The rest of the session will be an open discussion moderated by the organisers. At the end of the session, we will draw lists for the afternoon breakout groups.

Session IV (14.00-15.30): breakout groups
Objective: facilitate in-depth discussion on specific topics.
The definitive list of topics will be confirmed in the morning. Proposed groups:
- serology and immunology: validation and interpretation of assays;
- data analysis and modelling: further discussion of the methods presented in the morning, their assumptions and applications;
- broader discussion of the use of quantitative methods in wildlife epidemiology.
We may also offer a “hands-on” session to help participants use the R code presented in the morning.
In the last half-hour, the groups will reconvene and report back to the whole attendance. 

Session V (16.00-17.00): outline of review paper(s) and action plans
Objective: plan the deliverables from the workshop.
After the break, we will present a summary of the day’s discussions and invite further comments from the audience. We will then draw a specific plan for the workshop’s deliverables, which should include at least one review paper to be submitted to the Journal of Wildlife Diseases. We will record a tentative list of leading and contributing authors will be drawn, and action points with milestones to ensure timely progress.

Suggested reading

- Gilbert, A. T., Fooks, A. R., Hayman, D. T. S., Horton, D. L., Müller, T., Plowright, R., Peel, A. J., Bowen, R., Wood, J. L. N., Mills, J., Cunningham, A. A., & Rupprecht, C. E. (2013). Deciphering Serology to Understand the Ecology of Infectious Diseases in Wildlife. EcoHealth, 10(3), 298–313. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10393-013-0856-0

- Pepin, K. M., Kay, S. L., Golas, B. D., Shriner, S. S., Gilbert, A. T., Miller, R. S., Graham, A. L., Riley, S., Cross, P. C., Samuel, M. D., Hooten, M. B., Hoeting, J. A., Lloyd-Smith, J. O., Webb, C. T., & Buhnerkempe, M. G. (2017). Inferring infection hazard in wildlife populations by linking data across individual and population scales. Ecology Letters, 20(3), 275–292. https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.12732

- Peel, A. J., McKinley, T. J., Baker, K. S., Barr, J. A., Crameri, G., Hayman, D. T. S., Feng, Y.-R., Broder, C. C., Wang, L.-F., Cunningham, A. A., & Wood, J. L. N. (2013). Use of cross-reactive serological assays for detecting novel pathogens in wildlife: Assessing an appropriate cutoff for henipavirus assays in African bats. Journal of Virological Methods, 193(2), 295–303. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jviromet.2013.06.030

- Heisey, D. M., Joly, D. O., & Messier, F. (2006). THE FITTING OF GENERAL FORCE-OF-INFECTION MODELS TO WILDLIFE DISEASE PREVALENCE DATA. Ecology, 87(9), 2356–2365. https://doi.org/10.1890/0012-9658(2006)87[2356:TFOGFM]2.0.CO;2

Organisers: Karin Lemberger (Independent Researcher), Gudrun Wibbelt (Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research), Ursula Höfle (University of Castilla – La Mancha).

Outline: You are a pathologist, a pathology resident, a veterinary student or a professional dealing with wildlife diseases. You want to share and broaden your experience in histopathology or find out more about what goes on behind the lenses of a microscope: this workshop is for you!

This all day workshop will be held on Monday, August 31st, 2020 from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and will include a keynote lecture “Incorporating Pathology into Conservation Programs (How studying dead things contributes to Conservation)” by Prof. Karen Terio (Clinical Professor, Chief of the Zoological Pathology Program, University of Illinois; editor of the recently published book “Pathology of Wildlife and Zoo Animals”

Call for case submissions: For the workshop we are soliciting case submissions and invite all participants to contribute. We would like to have a series of 10 cases of interest from wildlife species. These cases can include “classic” lesions, novel findings and general “what the heck” conditions. Submitting a case means you agree to send one or two H&E slides of the case and a detailed case description on letterhead for inclusion into the course materials. On the day of the workshop you will be asked to give a short presentation of the lesions (via powerpoint and/or digital slide browsing) and a brief background into the disease or diagnostic process (maximum 12min). It is possible for the same presenter to submit several cases. Slides will be returned on the day of the workshop.

Please email Karin Lemberger (k.lemberger@vetdiagnostics.fr) with a brief description of the case by May 1st, 2020. Those applicants with chosen cases will be notified by email by the end of May and receive further instructions for slide submission and case presentation.

IMPORTANTE NOTE: You are also welcome to attend the Workshop even if you have not submitted a case!

Workshop specifics: All participants will receive an access to a Dropbox folder with scanned histology slides and the case write up materials. Scanned slides will be available prior to the conference, so participants may prepare ahead of time, attempt to find their own diagnosis and join in the raffle by answering a short quiz on the cases (personal smartphone will be necessary to participate).

Participants: 50 (Minimum of 20 participants required and 6 cases)

Fee: €100 (€60 for students)

09.00-10.30 Keynote Lecture
“Incorporating Pathology into Conservation Programs (How studying dead things contributes to Conservation)”
By Prof. Karen Terio (Clinical Professor, Chief of the Zoological Pathology Program, University of Illinois; editor of the recently published book “Pathology of Wildlife and Zoo Animals”)
10.30-11.00 Coffee break / Talk to the Speaker
11.00-13.00 Comprehensive case presentations from attendants (Approx. 6)
These cases can include “classic” lesions, novel findings and general “what the heck” conditions.
20 min per case presentation with interactive slide examination, discussions and questions from the audience. Scanned slides will be available prior to the conference, so participants may prepare ahead of time, attempt to find their own diagnosis and join in the raffle by answering a short quiz on the cases (personal smartphone will be necessary to participate).
13.00-14.00 Lunch
14.00-15.00 Panel Discussion: Why bother with histopathology samples from wildlife cases? What to do and what not to do?
Views from pathologists, clinicians, biologists and students with participation from the attendees.
15.00-16.00 Interactive microscope session
Guess the diagnosis or bring your own slides and ask the experts and colleagues!
16.00–16.30 Coffee break
16.30-17.00 Quizz, answers and prizeClosing discussion and comments

Organisers: Erik Agren, DVM DECVP DECZM (National Veterinary Institute, Sweden) & Tabitha Viner, DVM DACVP (US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory)

Outline: The workshop will cover topics in wildlife forensic pathology and evidence handling, focusing on human-caused mortality events of wild animals. Forensic elements including toxicity, blunt and sharp trauma, gunshot, and decomposition will complement discussions comparing and contrasting the legal frameworks in the United States and Europe. Attendees will be able to identify cues at a scene that could indicate anthropogenic wildlife mortality vs. natural disease, and effectively communicate their findings to law enforcement personnel. Informational lecture will be followed by a tabletop exercise, allowing teams to work through a wildlife forensic case. This workshop is of value to veterinarians, pathologists, and biologists.
Four hours of classroom instruction and four hours of tabletop activity.

Participants: 30

Fee: €80

08.30-09.00 Introduction – Introduction of instructors; participant experience in forensics/why are you attending?
09.00-11.00 Forensic pathology primer

  • Blunt and sharp trauma
  • Gunshot injury
  • Poisoning
  • Industrial mortality (oil pits, solar, wind, electrocution)
11.00-11.30 Coffee break
11.30-12.00 Taphonomy
  • Decomposition
  • Scavenging
12.00-13.00 Investigations
  • Crime scene investigation and record-keeping
  • Legal framework (intercontinental comparisons)
  • Value of evidence
13.00-14.00 Lunch
14.00-14.30 Split into groups and outline tabletop exercise
14.30-16.00 Tabletop exercise
16.00-16.30 Coffee break
16.30-18.00 Re-convene to debrief on activity


Organisers: Joaquín Vicente, DVM PhD, José Antonio Blanco-Aguiar, DBsc. PhD, Pablo Palencia PhD Student, Pelayo Acevedo DBsc. PhD (Spanish Game Resources Institute IREC, CSIC-UCLM-JCCM)

Outline: The size of wildlife populations is a required parameter to guide sustainable adaptative population and health management. Management programs require information on the population abundance and structure in order to establish effective actions meeting specific objectives. Also, the so-called “denominator” data informs on the number of individuals that are exposed to pathogens and are essential for wildlife disease monitoring/surveillance programs, so as to model risk for entrance, persistence and spread of pathogens at different spatio-temporal scales and scenarios. In this workshop, we will revise the key concepts for implementing population monitoring programs and the main tools and sources of information available for this purpose. Among others, the use of hunting statistics and camera traps data will be given especial attention. Standardized hunting statistics (not merely hunting bags, but data on effort and efficacy) are a relevant source of information especially applicable for large spatial scales. At this regard, efforts are nowadays put in harmonizing the collection of this kind of data at International level. Phototrapping has become a relevant tool for population monitoring in the last decade. This tool is experiencing a relevant development in managing and processing pictures, which may suppose an important bottleneck, in parallel to further advances in statistical procedures to estimate population density, but also practical protocols that facilitate the implementation of this approach. It is remarkable those methods that do not require the individual identification or recaptures. The workshop will include introductory contents and practical exercises to gain skills with the generation, management and interpretation of data from wildlife monitoring programs.

Participants: 25

Fee: €60

Programme: Available soon.

Organisers: Jorge R. López Olvera (Wildlife Ecology & Health group and Servei d’Ecopatologia de Fauna Salvatge, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain), Stephanie Kramer-Schadt (Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Germany) & Bryony Tolhurst (University of Brighton, UK).

Outline: Urban sprawl together with the increase of some wildlife species due to climate and land use change is leading to increased colonisation of urban environments even by larger mammals, attracted by anthropogenic food resources and refuge. Bears, foxes, monkeys, racoons and wild boars, among other species, freely roam in urban and periurban areas. Causing division in public opinion among citizens pleased with this “urban rewilding” and those considering it as a nuisance, urban wildlife populations are a challenge for urban management and open a new paradigm of transmission pathways within the One Health perspective.
This workshop is aimed at sharing scientific approaches to urban wildlife study experiences in towns and cities around the world, as well management options and health surveillance carried out in each one of these particular contexts. The participants in the workshop will be able to present their own situation, contrast it against other urban populations, share the result of specific management measures and discuss the applicability of general measures to each particular situation.

Participants: 50

Fee: €50

Programme: Available soon.