The University of New Mexico and the city of Albuquerque host the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (JMIH) at the Albuquerque Convention Center this week through Monday, July 15. The conference attracts more than 1,000 scientists including academics, agencies, NGOs and most importantly graduate and undergraduate students, interested in studying, managing and preserving the rich, but imperiled natural heritage of fish, amphibian and reptile biodiversity worldwide.

The joint meeting, chaired by UNM Biology Professor Tom Turner, consists of members of four professional scientific societies: the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH), the American Elasmobranch Society (AES), the Herpetologists League (HL), and the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles (SSAR). All of these societies are dedicated to the study of fishes, amphibians & reptiles.

The 2013 JMIH includes the 29th annual meeting of the American Elasmobranch Society (AES), the 56th annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles (SSAR), the 71st annual meeting of the Herpetologists' League (HL), and the 93rd annual meeting of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH). It also coincides with the 100th anniversary of Copeia, a journal founded by naturalist and scientist John Treadwell Nichols, grandfather of New Mexico author John Nichols, who wrote the "The Milagro Beanfield War."

"These are truly integrative societies that look at all aspects of the biology of these organisms, including systematics, biodiversity, physiology, ecology (from microbiota to ecosystems), behavior and genetics," Turner said. "Conservation is a common thread that links members of the society. Human encroachment and fragmentation of wild areas, water depletions, climate change, and emerging diseases of wildlife are all central themes of research."

One of the theme that's being emphasized at the meeting is land and water issues in the west, the ongoing drought in New Mexico, and climate change and their importance as drivers of fish, amphibian and reptile biodiversity.

Students from all over the state including New Mexico Highlands, UNM, New Mexico Tech, New Mexico State and Western New Mexico will be in attendance. Attendees also include professionals, academics, graduate and undergraduate students. For many in the latter category, it is their first professional meeting. Meeting attendees are international, but mainly come from the United States, Canada, Central and South America, Europe and Australia.

The UNM Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs and the Latin American Institute provided funding in support of eight students traveling from universities in Mexico.

Other major supporters are the UNM Museum of Southwestern Biology, the UNM Biology Department, Turner Enterprises, Inc., the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, Allen Press, the Sister Cities of Albuquerque Foundation, New Mexico Museum of Natural History, the Consulate of Mexico, the Rattlesnake Museum, American Southwest Ichthyological Researchers, the Biological Society of New Mexico and many private donors.

For more information, visit daily meeting schedule.