John Elliott, Wildlife Toxicology Interest Group

The Wildlife Toxicology SETAC Interest Group conducted a full day short course, “Wildlife Ecotoxicology with a Focus on Latin America,” on 15 September 2019 at the SETAC Latin America 13th Biennial Meeting in Cartagena, Colombia. This was the first wildlife toxicology short course ever offered by SETAC. Course instructors were from the government sector, John Elliott and Christine Bishop, both from Environment and Climate Change Canada, as well as from the academic sector, Miguel Mora from Texas A&M University, Rafa Mateo of the University of Castilla-La Mancha, and Antonio Garcia-Fernandez from University of Murcia. Technical and coordination support was provided by Ana Gonzalez, Canada National Distance Education University.

Short course participants in gardens of St. Augustin Cloister

Short course participants and instructors in the gardens of the St. Augustin Cloister at the University of Cartagena, the location of the course.

Fourteen participants from seven countries participated in the course, which covered an introduction to wildlife toxicology, lectures on chemicals of current concern for terrestrial wildlife, including lead projectiles, rodenticides, pharmaceuticals, neonicotinoid insecticides and persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Students then engaged in a series of small group exercises, which entailed analysis and assessment of a problem and a presentation of potential solutions. Exercise topics included polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) exposure of sea otters, pesticide poisoning of grassland birds and mercury contamination from abandoned gold mining activities. Lectures and the exercises were conducted in a mix combination of English and Spanish. The student evaluations emphasized the value of applying the information learned within the group exercises and the networking opportunity that the course presented.

We had no idea how the potential audience would respond to a short course like this, and we were pleasantly surprised that 14 people enrolled. The students were incredibly keen and enthusiastic, which was very gratifying and made all the effort worthwhile. We also took advantage of having the first Wildlife Toxicology Interest Group meeting in Latin America. This meeting was well attended and from everyone’s perspective a successful launch in this geographic unit.

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