A Brief History of the International Firefly Symposium
By Raphaël De Cock and Marc Branham
The philosophy behind organizing the first Firefly Meeting was to bring together people from around the world with an interest in fireflies (and other bioluminescent beetles) at a venue open to not only scientists, but educators, naturalists and artists. Artistic activities involving fireflies represent an essential link in promoting these insects and their conservation to a wider audience, especially those works combining art, science and education. By providing a venue for an international meeting, the organizers hoped to foster collaborative partnerships between those interested in many different aspects of fireflies.
The series of meetings that has become the International Firefly Symposium arose from a meeting hosted in 2007 by the Parque Biológico de Gaia, a center for environmental education and a nature reserve in Vilanova de Gaia, Portugal. The 2007 meeting, officially called the International Firefly Meeting, later renamed the Firefly Network Meeting, was hosted and organized by Mr. Nuno Gomes Oliveira and Dr. Raphaël De Cock. The Parque Biológico de Gaia was a natural choice for the first meeting as the park director, Mr. Oliveira, is dedicated to the study and conservation of fireflies. Fireflies are found in the reserve and nightly firefly excursions remain a popular activity for more than 10,000 visitors yearly.
In 2008, the Queen Sirikit’s Botanic Garden Organization and the Committee for the Fireflies in Thailand Project organized the 1st International Firefly Symposium in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Mr. Bampot Napompeth served as the keynote speaker. The Firefly Network Meeting was held in conjunction with the symposium, and the meeting committee formally decided that it would be beneficial to hold a symposium every two years.
In 2010, the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) and the Malaysian Nature Society organized the 2nd International Firefly Symposium in Subang, Selangor, Malaysia. Drs. Nobuyoshi Ohba and Lesley Ballantyne served as keynote speakers. An additional activity associated with but held prior to this meeting was a training course on the Identification and Taxonomy of South East Asian Fireflies, taught by Drs. Lesley Ballantyne and Ming-Luen Jeng (July 27-31, 2010). The Network Meeting was held on the last day of the symposium. At the 2010 symposium, it was formally decided that in order to provide more time for planning future symposia as well as for conducting firefly projects between meetings, symposia would be held every three years. At the 2010 meeting, the University of Florida was elected as the venue for the International Firefly Symposium in 2013.
Due to several unforeseen scheduling issues, the meeting originally scheduled for 2013 was moved to 2014. In August of 2014, the University of Florida will be hosting the 2014 International Firefly Symposium in Gainesville, Florida. In the interest of simplicity, the numbering system for the symposium was dropped from the title and replaced with the year the meeting will be held. The University of Florida has been a center for firefly research for over 45 years, due to the influential career of Dr. James E. Lloyd, professor emeritus. Dr. Lloyd has agreed to serve as the keynote speaker at the 2014 meeting.
Keynote Speakers and Presentation Titles:
Keynote speakers were not included in the program of this meeting.
Mr. Bampot Napompeth, Associate Professor, National Biological Control Research Center, Kasetsart University, Bangkok, Thailand.
Keynote Title: Reminiscence of Firefly Study in Thailand.
Dr. Nobuyoshi Ohba – Ohba Firefly Institute, Yokosuka City, Japan and: Yokosuka City Museum, Yokosuka, Japan.
Keynote Title: The Restoration and Maintenance of Firefly Habitats in Japan – A case study of Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture.
Dr. Lesley Ballantyne– Adjunct Research Associate, School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, Australia.
Keynote Title: Taxonomy – help or hindrance in Southeast Asia?
Dr. James E. Lloyd – Professor Emeritus, Department of Entomology and Nematology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, United States of America.
Keynote Title: Fireflies Come of Age.
International Firefly Meeting, Portugal, 2007
1st International Firefly Symposium, Thailand, 2008
International Firefly Symposium, Malaysia, 2010