Workshops, field trips and events

Below are descriptions of the available Workshops, Field Trips, Special Interest Groups and events.

Note: Registration for all listed Workshops, Field Trips and Events will be handled with  

Lack of sufficient registration for workshops or field trips may necessitate cancellation with a full refund - Deadline for Workshop or Fieldtrip cancellation Friday August 10th.



Training workshop in auditing and cleaning of biodiversity data

Participants in this workshop will get hands-on training in how to audit collection and biodiversity data for duplicate, broken and truncated records; internal data disagreements and missing data; and character encoding issues and incorrect or inconsistent formatting. Auditing will be done on the command line with text-processing tools that are simple, reliable, easy to use and highly efficient for very large datasets. Sample data will be provided by the trainer.

Technical Requirements:
This is a training workshop and participants will need power leads for their laptops

For more information and for prerequisites, please contact

Organisers:         Robert Mesibov, Session W01
Date/Time:         Sunday August 26, 2.00pm – 5.30pm
Location:            Otago University, Castle B
Cost:                   Free
Booking:             Please book via the registration system

Workshop in the Care of Historic Mammal Taxidermy

The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) will present a one-day workshop focused on the preventive care and basic conservation treatment of historic mammal taxidermy for professionals who work with these collections, including conservators, collection managers, preventive care professionals, museum preparators, exhibition technicians, and taxidermists. 

This workshop was developed with funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and was presented in 2017 at the annual meeting of SPNHC in Denver, Colorado. It will be led by natural science conservators from the AMNH, and will provide participants with a thorough working knowledge of the preservation needs of historic mammalian taxidermy and how to address common condition issues. In addition to this knowledge, participants will leave with conservation references, and samples of common treatment materials. The workshop format will incorporate a combination of presentations, demonstrations, interdisciplinary group discussions, and hands-on experimentation. Two pre-workshop webinars on background and safety information will be offered for registered participants.

Organisers:         Julia Sybalsky (AMNH)
Date/Time:         Saturday August 25, Full day
Location:              Otago Museum
Cost:                      $150

NOTE: This workshop is subject to funding and numbers. Please indicate if you would like to attend the workshop by contacting

Workshop: Care & Conservation of Zoological Collections

Zoological collections house a huge range of biological diversity preserved in a wide variety of ways ranging from microscope mounts to whole animals preserved in fluids. The result is that these collections consist of a wide range of differing materials which can make the long term care and conservation of such collections a considerable challenge.  

This workshop is designed for museum professionals with the aim of giving an introductory overview on museum conservation approaches towards the care of zoological collections. This will be achieved through identifying the key risks and looking at the application of both remedial and preventative conservation methodologies to their care.

The format of the workshop will be lectures on specific topics with group discussions, along with (where feasible) activities in small groups and practical examinations of specimens. Topics covered will include:

  • Introduction to the concepts of ‘museum conservation’ and its application within the Natural Sciences.
  • The types of material found in zoological collections – an overview of the core collection types, the chemistry of preservation and the potential long term challenges these present.
  • An overview of the key agents of deterioration.
  • Environmental effects and how to recognise them.
  • Awareness of hazardous materials and core H&S issues encountered with the care and handling of zoological collections.
  • Assessing collections and deciding conservation priorities.
  • Fur, feathers and bones - practical conservation approaches to cleaning, consolidation and repair.
  • Fluid collections - practical conservation approaches to handling, identifying fluids and carrying out remedial activities.
  • Other key collection areas – e.g. conservation of entomology and other dried invertebrate collections; microscope slide collections.
  • Consideration of the care and conservation of specialist collections e.g. historic models such as Blaschka glass models.

Discussion and feedback from attendees will be a core part of the day.

Organisers:         Julian Carter, Principal Conservator Natural Sciences
Date/Time:         Sunday August 26, 9.00am, full day
Location:              Otago Museum
Cost:                      $50, Includes Lunch and Coffee Breaks
Booking:              Please book via the registration system

Workshop: Introduction to 3D Imaging Using Photogrammetry

This one day workshop will provide an introduction to 3D imaging using photogrammetry. The course is designed for museum professionals who are already familiar using digital single lens reflex (DSLR) cameras, and want to extend their practice to 3D imaging. The workshop will be hand-on and cover lighting and image processing, imaging flat and contoured specimens, working at different scales, and metric photogrammetry using Agisoft Photoscan. The course will be led by a museum professional with five years of experience of using photogrammetry to image museum collections from bivalves and taxidermy to plaster casts and wharenui. Participants will be expected to bring a DSLR and a laptop computer to the workshop.

Organisers:         JP Brown, Field Museum
Date/Time:         Sunday August 26, 9.00am, full day
Location:              Otago Museum, Hutton Theatre
Cost:                      $50, Includes Lunch and Coffee Breaks
Booking:              Please book via the registration system. Places strictly limited

Workshop: Software Carpentry and Data Carpentries Instructor Training

With the support of the University of Otago, The Carpentries, iDigBio, and others in the biodiversity community, there will be a Carpentries instructor training workshop held before the TDWG and SPNHC meeting. Attendees at this workshop will learn evidence-based best-practices of teaching and skills for providing a positive environment for learners. Attendees can go on to become certified Carpentry instructors and go on to teach Data, Software, and Library Carpentry workshops at their home institutions. 

The Carpentries is an international organization of thousands of instructors dedicated supportive and inclusive teaching of technical subjects to scientists. By offering this instructor training at TDWG/SPNHC, we hope to strengthen the community of Carpentry workshop instructors in the biodiversity community. All of the supporters will continue to provide long-term mentoring and community building to support new instructors teach workshops on their own.

The instructor training will be held on August 23rd - 24th at the Otago Museum in Dunedin, NZ. We are asking participants to pay $1000 USD for this training. This $1,000 fee will be paid directly to The Carpentries to support their operations. The Carpentries as an organization works to support instructors, expand lessons and create opportunities for community members around the world. As a badged instructor, you'll join a global community of practice working to bring data skills to all research communities. We are offering fee waivers based on need and anyone interested in this training is encouraged to apply for one if the fee is a barrier to attendance. Specifically, the Carpentries are waiving the fee for participants from Low and Middle Income countries.

Spaces are limited. To apply for the workshop (no fee is due immediately), please fill in the below training request form. Be sure to put "TDWG-2018" in the group name field. If you are requesting a fee waiver, please add that to the "Anything Else?" field. We will review applications as they are received and we will notify applicants if they are accepted within a few days:



SIG:Add Your Input to Challenges for Implementing Collections Data Quality Feedback:

Following the symposium:Challenges For Implementing Collections Data Quality Feedback: synthesizing the community experience, a special interest group (SIG at SPNHC) meeting, open to everyone, aims to collate and evaluate these data quality feedback use cases. For tractable issues, we plan to assemble and note the expected ways in which these barriers can be overcome. Where possible, we can tap into existing community resources (SPNHC, TDWG,, iDigBio, etc.) to help our data providers implement future data updates and track changes. At the same time, we plan to analyze the intractable issues - documenting why they remain challenging - and what, if any potential solutions are available or likely to be available in the future. This information provides future projects like DiSSCo (Distributed System of Scientific Collections) and BCoN (Biodiversity Collections Network) and others worldwide the information required to plan more effectively for cyber/human infrastructure. Synthesizing this input helps visionaries better understand, anticipate and support DQ management and data mobilization efforts going forward by informing design of future proposals and global projects structured with these outcomes in mind. At the end of the SIG workshop, we intend to publish our findings, and merge them with the results of a global survey on the same topic.

Organisers:         Deborah L Paul, Nicole Fisher
Date/Time:         Thursday August 30, lunch break
Location:              Otago University, Burns 7
Booking:              Please book via the registration system for catering purposes

SIG: Discussion Session:  Harnessing Biodiversity Collections Data for Addressing Global Challenges

This discussion session is one in a series of outreach activities organized by the Biodiversity Collections Network (BCoN) during 2018 to gather stakeholder input about possible next steps in harnessing biodiversity collections data for addressing global challenges.   In the U.S., we are conducting these activities in response to requests from NSF and others to provide a community-derived vision that could inform the development of a new funding program to succeed NSF’s current Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections (ADBC) program.  ADBC began in 2010 and will end in its current form in 2020.  However, we believe that a global perspective on the issue will be helpful for all national and international digitization initiatives.  

In this discussion session, we hope to review the outcomes of various national digitization initiatives, and to look for common themes in terms of digitization accomplishments and data use in research and education.  We will also explore where digitization efforts have fallen short of expectations, what the foci of future efforts should be, and how international collaboration, and more collaboration between collections professionals and biodiversity informatics specialists, might facilitate all future projects.

Organisers:         Barbara Thiers, Anna K. Monfils, Biodiversity Collections Network (BCoN)
Date/Time:         Tuesday August 28, lunch break
Location:              Otago University, Burns 7
Booking:              Please book via the registration system for catering purposes

SIG: Natural History Collections Aotearoa and Australasia

SPNHC 2018 is the first time that professionals from across New Zealand’s diverse natural history collections in museums, crown research institutes, universities and other organisations have the opportunity to come together. Tackling the digitisation deluge, providing greater access for molecular research and capitalising from growing public engagement are just some of the issues facing our sector. Although some groups and fora have been established in New Zealand, they are limited either to a particular taxonomic group or type of collection. Yet we all face similar issues, from resources and professional development to collections care and information management.  Issues that are also faced by our Australian colleagues.

The collections of Manaaki Whenua-Landcare Research along with the New Zealand National Herbarium Network and the National Systematics and Taxonomic Collections Working Group wish to invite all New Zealand and Australian conference delegates to attend this Special Interest Group Meeting to discuss forming a network through which collections professionals working in all areas of natural history in New Zealand can communicate and share information on best practices in care and management. Such a network might also provide a further platform to increase cooperation between institutions and facilitate national initiatives relating to collection management and care.  The meeting will provide an opportunity for all New Zealand natural history collection professionals to meet and, if there is support for the mooted network, to discuss the format and operational charter that the network should adopt, and how such a network would work with existing fora.  We would also like to invite Australian conference delegates to join us to consider a broader, Australasian network and how that might interface with a New Zealand network.

Organisers:         Aaron Wilton, Sarah Tassell, Nyssa Mildwaters and Robert Morris
Date/Time:         Friday August 31, 11.00am – 12.30
Location:              Otago Uni, Castle 2
Note:                    All welcome 



FIELD TRIPS - August 25-26, 2018


OROKONUI ECOSANCTUARY - New Zealand’s native birds and bush

Orokonui kiwi

Travel by bus from the Otago Museum along Dunedin’s West Harbour for a 2 hour guided tour of Dunedin’s treasured Orokonui ecosanctuary. An amazing opportunity to see and hear many of New Zealand’s endemic bird species including kaka, kereru, tomtits, tui and more. Watch the endangered flightless takahē be fed. Learn about the challenges of introduced pests on New Zealand’s flora and fauna and see New Zealand’s tallest tree. The tour includes a delicious lunch made from locally sourced produced. Please note that numbers are limited to 30 people per day

Date/Time:         Saturday August 25, 9.15am – 1.30pm or Sunday August 26, 9.15am – 1.30pm
Location:              Pick up and return by bus outside Otago Museum on the
Cost:                      NZ$90 per person
Booking:              Please book via the registration system

Monarch Cruises – Otago Peninsular Wildlife Tour


As you cruise the length of the Otago Harbour, our skipper will show you Careys Bay historic fishing village, Port Chalmers’ busy wharves and the harbour’s beautiful bays, hills, farmland and forest. You’ll learn about the harbour’s volcanic geology and its Māori and European history. Take in surrounding sights with a hot or cold beverage or snack from our fully licensed galley. Enjoy Monarc’s fascinating Wildlife Cruise around Taiaroa Head and the surrounding coastline of dramatic cliffs. We will offer uninterrupted views of the only mainland nesting place of Northern Royal Albatross in the world. Our skipper will expertly manoeuvre the vessel whilst you watch the NZ Fur seals play and swim near their breeding colonies, out at sea you can spot rarely seen ocean birds including other albatross species and petrels, and you may see penguins, dolphins and other marine mammals. Hear stories of sea creatures and early settlers as you bus along the scenic roads of the Otago Peninsula. Please note that numbers are limited to 50 people per trip

Date/Time:         Saturday August 25, 1.00pm – 5.00pm or Sunday August 26, 1.00pm – 5.00pm
Location:              This tour departs daily from 20 Fryatt St, Dunedin.
Cost:                      NZ$75 per person
Booking:              Please book via the registration system

Biodiversity by Night


•    New Zealand night sky show in the Perpetual Guardian Planetarium
•    Transport to Natural history clubrooms - Leith Valley
•    Pizza dinner
•    Talks about New Zealand’s Nocturnal Nature
•    Night walk to see Dunedin’s urban glow worms and other night dwellers. 

Date/Time:         Saturday August 25, 5pm – 8.30pm
Location:              Meet at the Museum. Transfers provided
Cost:                      NZ$45 per person
Booking:              Please book via the registration system


SHORT TOURS – August 25 – 30


Guided tours of the Otago Museum

Saturday August 25 and Sunday August 26.

Date/Time:         ‘Treasures of the Museum’, 11.00am and 2.00pm
                             ‘Stories of the South’, 1.00pm and 3.00pm
Cost:                     Included in Registration - $0. Please bring your conference lanyard
Booking:              Please book via the registration system

University Anatomy Museum - Short tour

Monday August 27 and Tuesday August 28
Location:              Assembly point to be announced
Date/Time:         1.15 – 1.45, during the lunch break
Cost:                      Included in Registration - $0
Booking:              Please sign up at the conference

University Geology Museum – Short tour

Monday August 27 and Tuesday August 28
Location:              Assembly point to be announced
Date/Time:         1.15 – 1.45, during the lunch break
Cost:                      Included in Registration - $0
Booking:              Please sign up at the conference


EVENTS – August 27 – 31


Welcome Reception
Monday, August 27, 2018
Location:              Otago Museum
Date/Time:         August 27 at 5.30pm - 7:00pm
Cost:                      Included in Registration - $0 


Quiz Night

Tuesday, August 28, 2018
Location:              Lone Star
Date/Time:         August 28 at 6.00 - 9.00pm
Cost:                      $25 per person plus drinks.
Booking:              Please book via the registration system. Numbers limited 


Emerging Professionals Luncheon

Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Meet & network with other emerging natural history professionals at the 3rd annual SPNHC Emerging Professionals Luncheon. We welcome pre-career, early career, interest and/or "still not sure what I'm doing yet" persons. All TDWG folk most welcome.

Location:              Hutton Theatre, Otago Museum
Date/Time:         August 29, 12.30pm – 2.00pm
Cost:                      Included in Registration - $0
Booking:              Please book via the registration system for catering purposes 

Sponsoring Partners Reception

Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Location:              Otago Museum, Tūhura
Date/Time:         August 29 at 6.00pm - 7:00pm
Cost:                      Sponsored by Partners - $0
Booking:              Please book via the registration system for catering purposes

Our sponsoring partners will host a reception in Tūhura, the Otago Museum’s new science engagement centre.

Conference Dinner

Thursday, August 30, 2018
Location:              University of Otago Commerce building 
Date/Time:         August 30 at 6.30pm - 10:00pm
Cost:                      NZ$ 120 per person
Booking:              Please book via the registration system  


Farewell Friday

Friday, August 31, 2018
Location:              University Staff Club 
Date/Time:         August 31 at 6.00pm – 8.00pm
Cost:                      NZ$ 12 per person plus cash bar
Booking:              Please book via the registration system