Collaborate, learn, and network with your colleagues both in person and online. Attend our annual meeting, the largest conference in North America for conservation professionals.

Pre-, Post-, and Lunch Sessions

Propose a session

Pre- and Post-sessions

Propose a session that will take place before or after the main annual meeting session.

  • Pre-sessions would be held May 11 and 12
  • Post-sessions would be held May 16
These session should be between 1 and 3 hours or a half- or full-day session. If a longer session is desired, please email Ruth Seyler, meetings director, about proposing a symposium or other style of session at

Sessions should provide information on a topic of interest to attendees and may need to have a separate cost to attendees beyond the base registration. However, we make efforts to keep that cost low and/or offer sessions at no additional cost when possible.

Two Ways to Propose a Sessions

  • Submit a complete pre- or post-session. You can submit a complete session that includes your abstract, possible schedule, and a list of proposed speakers you have invited to be part of your pre- or post-session.
  • Submit an abstract to a proposed pre-session. We currently have three proposed Symposia whose chairs are soliciting abstracts (see descriptions below).

When visiting the abstract submission page you will be asked if you are submitting your own complete session or submitting to one of the proposed Symposia.  

Lunch Sessions

You may also have content that could be shared over a 1- or 2-hour lunch session during the main meeting days. These should be targeted sessions that cover a specific topic in a lecture or panel format. Sessions that begin at noon will be ticketed to cover the cost of lunch; lunch will be 30-45 minutes and the session can run during lunch or after. One-hour sessions that begin at 1 p.m. will not include lunch.

Lunch sessions are available on May 13, 14, and 15.

Proposed Open Symposia

The following Symposia are accepting abstracts.

From pollen to Paramylodon: Innovative management of paleontological collections of various sizes, shapes, and preservation strategies

Special consideration for the management and maintenance of paleontological collections needs to be taken to ensure their long-term preservation. Paleontological collections include everything from mega- and macrofossils in warehouses and on shelves, to smaller fossils in boxes and capsules, and microfossils, such as plant pollen, on slides. Maintaining proper environmental conditions in these collection spaces, and keeping up with museum best practices for continuous conservation and preservation, are crucial for support of current and future research programs. This symposium will highlight the concerns that arise with preventative care for both macrofossil and microfossil collections -- use of appropriate materials for cataloging; proper materials for housing; maintenance of appropriate environment, storage and collections spaces; and the ease of accessibility for both institutional staff and incoming researchers – and the ways to address these concerns, dependent on the type of institution. Many institutions have also initiated digitization activities into their collection management workflows. Collections managers, curators, and other museum staff are taxed with addressing these concerns within limited budgets, space, and resources, leading to creative and innovative solutions to the long-term care of fossil specimens, examples of which will be shared in this symposium. The long-term preservation of paleontology collections ensures sustained research from taxonomic to ecological scales, educational opportunities for local and distance learners, and community science outreach programs that are transforming the way the public learns about the past through natural history collections.

Digitized specimen data use by non-academic and non-museum agencies

Co-chairs: Diana Soteropoulos and Herrick Brown

The utility of digitized natural history specimen data extends beyond universities and public or private museums to non-academic and non-museum agencies such as state and national parks, state conservation agencies, and natural heritage programs. This symposium will cover aspects of how these agencies use digitized collections data, including finding historical distributions of (rare) species at a county-level; searching for specimens from a specified area, such as a National Park or state boundary; describing new species; and identifying areas for conservation, preservation, or restoration. While digitized data are searchable online, many agencies also build connections with academic and museum collections to access the specimens for study, deposit new specimen collections, or collaborate. Audience members should find this symposium engaging no matter the type of institution of employment, as we intend for an exchange of ideas among universities and museums with these non-museum agencies. The location of the SPNHC 2021 meeting is well-suited for many prospective presenters from state heritage programs, the U.S. National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the academic and museum collections which work with these groups.

Appreciating the little things in life: Molecular technologies driving new methodologies in specimen preservation and management.

 Co-chairs: Dr. James Macklin (1), Dr. Matthew Ryan (2)

(1) Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa, Canada, (2) CABI, Egham, United Kingdom

The advent of the genomic age and the technologies that drive it have made an enormous impact on biological research. One of these major impacts has been the ability to identify and study microorganisms both as individual species and in their associated communities. These organisms occupy an incredibly diverse set of habitats and substrates such as water, soil, air, and in association with living systems (plants, animals, fungi, etc.). These microbiomes are now being sampled at an unprecedented rate and there is an urgent need to preserve the environments in which these organisms live to support future study. Natural history collections have been preserving non-living baseline physical evidence for centuries: the specimen. Similarly, botanical gardens, zoos, and aquaria, and more recently germplasm and culture collections have preserved living specimens. One solution to preserving these microbiomes is biobanking using various cryotechnologies, which has become a necessity to preserve important genetic material for later use. However, other solutions to long-term preservation are also required to maintain these microorganisms in matrix. This reality has begun to put pressure on collection-based institutions to store and manage these new sample/specimen types and their associated data. In this symposium we will discuss the challenges these new preservation methodologies present and potential solutions.