Sampling Techniques in Herpetology
Type of course: In-person Field Course to be carried out in Morocco.
Places: The course is itinerant, covering a large part of southwest Morocco, starting and ending in Rabat.
Academic Director: Alberto Sánchez Vialas
Field Teacher: David Herrero González
Coordinator: Àlex Torres-Riera
Duration: 8 days
Start date: 13 April 2019.
End date: 20 April 2019.
Amount: €600 for students, AHE members and Friends of the MNCN Society (without travel to Rabat or travel insurance), €650 for others.
Far from the desert vision that many tourist companies want to sell us, Morocco is the only country in Africa to the north of the Sahara that contains tropical relics, ecoclimatic influences from the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and, of course, the Sahara desert itself. All these influences allow the visitor to get to know a great diversity of ecosystems with their associated flora and fauna in a relatively small territory.
Reptiles and amphibians have been populating our planet for millions of years and their study and understanding can help elucidate much of the evolutionary history and radiation of all vertebrates.
Morocco contains the most important tropical relict of the Saharan zone as well as a clear influence of the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, the Atlas and Anti-Atlas and, of course, the Sahara Desert. All these geoecoclimatic influences allow us to vary the habitat in relatively few kilometres and give Morocco a not inconsiderable faunal and floral biodiversity, with numerous endemic species included. Its herpetological richness is of public reach and together with the kindness of its people, Morocco continues being a reference for the enthusiasts of these zoological classes and, in general, for any nature lover.
The biodiversity crisis, which we are currently suffering and which the Kenyan Richard Leaky defined as follows
as "the sixth extinction", obliges us, as conservation professionals, to minimise and
To counteract the impact that human activities cause all over the globe and to do this, a good training that minimises, in turn, the mistakes we could make, is fundamental.
Amphibians and reptiles are among the most threatened vertebrates, where emerging diseases, such as chytridiomycosis, are playing a devastating role while forcing professionals to keep up to date, both in the cabinet and in the field.
Because of their resistance and ease of transport, many of these animals are among the most affected by illegal trafficking of species, being the famous square of Jemaa el Fna a perfect setting to study the problem.
In the most classical and academic university environment, many times one leaves the faculty with a degree that demonstrates a good preparation at a theoretical level, but lacking the enough and
necessary field experience, so we consider it necessary to fill this training gap.
We need future nature conservation professionals to be able to carry out their work with full knowledge, as conservation biology is a field where we will have fewer and fewer second chances.
The course has a duration of 8 days during which we will make a circular tour starting from Rabat.
The dynamics of the course is very simple, will visit some of the best natural areas of Morocco, such as the Mamora forest, the largest cork oak forest in the world or the Souss Massa National Park, where exhaustive sampling of herpetofauna both day and night, with the intention of finding as many species as possible.
On the way we will visit some cisterns where typically a good number of animals are trapped, most of them herpetes, freeing them from these ancestral traps.
Observation of reptile stalls in Jamaa el-Fna square in Marrakech to know the scope of this activity.
All the data collected will be systematically recorded in order to be able to write, and publish, a report.
Alberto Sánchez Vialas
David Herrero González
Biologist, specialising in zoology by the UCM and research herpetologist at the National Museum of Natural Sciences, where he conducts his doctorate in the department of Evolutionary Biology.
During the university period 2011/2013 he was president and founder of the herpetological association of the UCM, Alytes, where he organised conferences on dissemination and conservation of reptiles and amphibians, in addition to having given lectures on herpetology for other associations and the faculty of Singapore Yale-NUS.
His passion for fauna has led him to visit different countries where he focuses on herpetological research and observation, having led several herpetological expeditions in Morocco, Western Sahara, Senegal and Ecuador.
He is currently working in the reptile and amphibian collections of the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales in Madrid.
He is one of the two creators of the course.
Biologist, specialised in zoology by the UCM, technician of centres of recovery of fauna and studying a course of Assistant of veterinary clinic and Veterinary technical assistant. Regular contributor to the website www.moroccoherps.com
A lover of herpetes and wildlife in general, David is most likely to be found in the countryside looking for "bugs". His passion for amphibians and reptiles has taken him all over Spain, part of Europe, Morocco, Western Sahara and Mauritania. His handling in the field is outstanding and not a bug escapes him, which is perfect for a course like this.
Together with Alberto he teaches and this course.
Course in collaboration with the
National Museum of Natural Sciences (CSIC).
National Museum of Natural Sciences (CSIC).
To participate write to Àlex.