puddling butterflies

Xerces staff attend meetings
in the Middle East and Europe
Xerces staff covered thousands of miles during February, visiting Abu Dhabi, The Netherlands, and Germany.

Scott BlackScott Hoffman Black, Xerces executive director, spent the last week of February in Abu Dhabi (capital of the United Arab Emirates) at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission specialist group meeting. Many specialist groups were present, representing a diversity of wildlife from rhinos and alligators to cycads and fungi. The goal of the meeting was to bring together experts from across the world to discuss how to advance the IUCN species conservation agenda for the next quadrennium and beyond.

Scott attended the meeting as chair of the IUCN Butterfly Specialist Group. However, he wore two hats at the meeting, also representing the Bumblebee Specialist Group as a proxy for that group's chair Dr. Paul Williams (of the Natural History Museum of London) and vice-chair Sarina Jepsen (of the Xerces Society) who were unable to attend.

IUCN Invertebrate Sub-committeeA highlight of the meeting were the sessions with the IUCN Terrestrial Invertebrate Sub-committee, comprising a variety of specialist groups that represent a cross-section of terrestrial invertebrates. The groups include grasshoppers, mollusks, dragonflies and a freshwater crab/crayfish group. Led by sub-committee chair and Xerces counselor Michael Samways, the gathering discussed how to work together on common issues and how they might better coordinate their activities with other sub-committees such as those addressing marine and freshwater species conservation.

The meeting was made possible by the generous support of the Environmental Agency - Abu Dhabi and the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund.

Mace VaughanMeanwhile, Mace Vaughan, director of Xerces Pollinator Conservation Program, traveled to Europe, where he gave talks at the University of Amsterdam in The Netherlands and at a Sustainability Summit at Leuphana University in Germany. Scientists and conservationists in both countries were interested in learning about Xerces' pollinator conservation work, in which we act as a bridge between scientists who study the role that habitat and native bees play in crop pollination and people who manage both public and private lands throughout the US. Xerces field staff disseminates important scientific information and restoration techniques directly to federal agencies that help to establish pollinator habitat (especially the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service) and to farmers interested in biodiversity conservation and improving the resilience of their crop pollination system.

"The audiences I met with were very excited about using Xerces' collaborative model in Europe," said Mace. "There is a strong interest in having a nonprofit work closely with pollinator conservation researchers and the European agencies involved in administering the continent's Agricultural Environment Schemes, in order to get high-quality pollinator habitat on the ground."

There are many scientists in Europe who are studying declines in bees, as well as the role that habitat improvements and changes in pesticide practices can play in bolstering declining populations of wild bees. Xerces staff are looking forward to building partnerships across the Atlantic and developing win-win strategies that improve habitat and farm practices for pollinators!
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Group of butterflies puddling on the margins of a small stream in Guyana's Acarai Mts. Photographed by Piotr Naskrecki.

It was not all work in Abu Dhabi for Scott Black. Here he meets a trained falcon.

The IUCN Terrestrial Invertebrate Sub-committee in Abu Dhabi.

Mace Vaughan, director of Xerces Pollinator Conservation Program.  
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