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Developing research and higher education on animal biodiversity and wildlife conservation in the Caribbean

Success of the 3rd edition of the Caribaea Initiative Research & Conservation Workshop

Fri 10 Aug, 2018

The Caribaea Initiative Research & Conservation Workshop is held every year in the insular Caribbean. As a unique forum for sharing knowledge and research on the Caribbean fauna, it attracts a lively mix of conservation biologists and managers at all career stages, from the region and elsewhere around the globe, thus offering excellent networking opportunities.

The 3rd Caribaea Initiative Research & Conservation Workshop took place from May 28th to June 01st 2018 in the conference rooms of the Creole Beach Hotel, Pointe de la Verdure, at Le Gosier, and on the campus of The University of the French West Indies (Université des Antilles – UA) in Fouillole. This scientific event, organized jointly by the Caribaea Initiative and the University of the French West Indies, with the support of the Regional Council of Guadeloupe, the General Council of Guadeloupe, the Grand Port Maritime de la Guadeloupe – Port Caraïbes and the MAVA Foundation, brought together 110 participants from eight different countries, including ten Caribbean states or territories and gave rise to 56 oral communications, including four plenary conferences.

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Michelle Duvivier Pierre-Louis: Haiti biodiversity, an urban experience

This participation, up sharply compared to the two previous editions organized in Martinique (2016) and in St-Kitts-and-Nevis (2017), testifies to the success of the workshop and the dynamism of the association.

The detailed programme of the event is provided in Annex 2. The first day was dedicated to a training session during which some twenty students supported in their university studies by the Caribaea Initiative, as well as some doctoral students enrolled at the University of the French West Indies, were able to attend a programme to complement their initial training. They were thus able to update their knowledge about the critical role of species interactions within ecosystems and biodiversity dynamics, learning how to write an application to obtain international support funding for a biodiversity conservation project, and get an introduction on modern techniques known as “model selection” in biostatistics. These trainings have been provided by top-notch international experts.

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One day training session for students

The scientific symposium took place on the 29-31 May. The inaugural session was marked by the speeches of Mrs Sylvie Gustave-dit-Duflo, Vice-President of the Regional Council of Guadeloupe, and Professor Olivier Gros, Vice-Chairman of the University of the French West Indies’s Scientific Board. Both highlighted the challenges related to biodiversity conservation in the Caribbean region and reaffirmed the commitment of the Region and the University to the development of scientific expertise in this field.

These three days provided an opportunity to discuss various topics related to biodiversity and wildlife management in the insular Caribbean. The question and answer sessions that followed each of the presentations allowed participants to exchange views on different fundamental, applied or methodological aspects.

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Round table discussion at the University of the French West Indies (Université des Antilles – campus de Fouillole)

Alongside scientific debates, a round table discussion on “What are the impacts of climate change on biodiversity in the Caribbean islands?”, open to the general public and moderated by an international panel of experts, brought together on May 30th from 6 to 8pm over a hundred people on the Fouillole campus. Co-organised by Caribaea Initiative and Météo France, it served to inform the Guadeloupean population about recent advances in weather forecasts on climate change at the local (French West Indies) and regional (Caribbean arc) scale, and its potential repercussions on living organisms. The public’s keen interest resulted in many questions to which the experts responded, emphasizing the need to support the research effort to fill numerous remaining gaps in understanding the dynamics of climate change and its impact on the environment.

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The gala evening held on May 31 at the Creole Beach Hotel brought together about 80 participants in a friendly and warm atmosphere. On this occasion, the Dawn A.T. Phillip Award for the Best Student Talk was given for the first time. Following the evaluation of all oral communications presented by students, the jury has decided to reward Ms. Rachel Batista Alvarez, from Cuba, for her excellent presentation on the behavioral thermoregulation in anolian lizards. The prize was awarded by Professor Anne Magurran of the University of Saint-Andrews and Professor Frank Cézilly, President of Caribaea Initiative.

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The day of June 1st allowed the congress participants to go on an excursion to discover the natural and cultural heritage of Guadeloupe (coral reefs discovery outing, birdwatching trip, guided tour of the Memorial ACTe). The Caribaea Initiative Scientific Council met the same day in a conference room of the Creole Beach Hotel. The council drew a very positive balance of this edition and approved the organization of the 2019 edition in Dominican Republic.

Media coverage

The workshop and round table were widely covered by local media, on television and radio channels:
– Three TV interviews
o Interview of Prof Frank Cézilly, guest on the 1:00 news set of Guadeloupe 1ère
o Interviews of Prof. Frank Cézilly and Prof. Wilson Célestin on Canal 10 TV
o Interviews of Prof. Frank Cézilly and Christopher Cambrone for ATV News Guadeloupe

– Two programmes on Radio Guadeloupe 1ère
o Interview of Prof. Frank Cézilly
o Interviews of Christopher Cambrone and Pierre Michard Beaujour

All the recordings were shared on our Facebook page (@caribaeainitiative). The live broadcast of the roundtable discussion on Facebook generated 633 views, 46 likes and 14 shares.

Benefits for Guadeloupe

The positive repercussions of organizing the 3rd Caribaea Initiative Research & Conservation Workshop in Guadeloupe for the territory and, beyond, the French West Indies, fall within different time steps.

In the short term, this scientific event enabled a large number of international scientific experts to come to Guadeloupe for the first time, who were able to assess the importance and functionality of the tourism and research infrastructures on site. In this respect, the excellent quality of service provided by the Creole Beach Hotel, where the leading scientists, members of the scientific council and several members of the board of directors of the Caribaea Initiative association were accommodated, should be highlighted. The whole service and the availability of the managers strongly contributed to the success of the workshop and gave an excellent image of the welcome reserved for visitors in Guadeloupe. On the academic level, the 3rd CIRCW was undoubtedly a major event of the year 2018 for the scientific community of Guadeloupe (University of the French West Indies, CNRS, INRA, CIRAD, Météo France) which had a unique opportunity to present their work in ecology, evolution, conservation biology and veterinary sciences to a large international audience, but also to draw its attention to the presence in Guadeloupe of equipment and technologies whose academic enhancement contributes to the attractiveness of the territory.

Acknowledgements

The association Caribaea Initiative wishes to thank the Regional Council of Guadeloupe, the General Council of Guadeloupe, the Grand Port Maritime de la Guadeloupe – Port Caraïbes, the MAVA Foundation and the University of the French West Indies for their moral and financial support in the organization of its third workshop. We express our deep gratitude to the following colleagues for their personal investment and valuable help: Sophie Arnaud-Haond, Ali Belmadani, Didier Bernard, Etienne Bezault, Josette Borel-Lincertin, Claude Bouchon, François Bretagnolle, Christopher Cambrone, Maikel Canizares, Ary Chalus, Thierry Cherizard, Chantal Comte, Jenny Daltry, Charlotte Dromard, Frédérique Fardin, Lou Frotté, Jean-Michel Gaillard, Sébastien Gilles, Olivier Gros, Jean-Raphaël Gros-Désormeaux, Simon Guerrero, Sylvie Gustave-dit-Duflo, Éloïse Ingadassamy, Olivier Langrand, Delano Lewis, Anne Magurran, Carrie Manfrino, Alex Méril, Sita Narayanan, Thierry Pérez, Roger Pradel, Ludovic Pruneau, Guillaume Rieucau, Jeremy Ropers, Yves Salaün, Alain Sandoz, Malika Trouillefou, Annabelle Vidal, Henri Vallès, Vanessa Weck.

 

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