Event type
Previous Event
Event status
19 September 2023 9:30am - 3:30pm

A workshop on early reproductive failure including demonstrations and hands-on techniques.

During this in-person workshop, participants will learn how to diagnose the causes of egg hatching failure in birds and reptiles, including how to examine unhatched eggs to determine whether they have been fertilised, assess sperm numbers reaching the egg, and obtain DNA from embryos that have died early for genetic analysis. We will demonstrate practical methods and discuss their potential applications, as well as providing opportunities for participants to gain hands-on experience with the techniques. 

Microscopy experts from Olympus will be on hand to offer guidance and discuss equipment requirements, and there will be an opportunity to visit the London Zoo bird collection with ZSL staff and learn how these methods inform the management of zoo collections. A light lunch and refreshments will be provided, and participants will also be granted access to professionally filmed recordings of talks and demonstrations for reference after the event.

No prior knowledge of reproductive biology or microscopy is required. Participants will be facilitated by tutors with expertise in diagnosing avian and reptilian fertility issues across a wide range of species and using their findings to inform conservation management in both captive and wild populations.

Talks taking place as part of this workshop will be recorded for distribution with attendees following the event for continued learning. By attending the workshop you consent to any question you ask in any Q&A session being included in the recording.

A programme can be found below.

Bookings closed at 11:59pm on Monday 11th September.


09:30 Arrival and refreshments

Session 1

10:00 Welcome and workshop introduction, Dr Patricia Brekke
10:15 Why examining eggs is important – lessons from birds, Dr Ashleigh Marshall
10:30 Can we apply avian egg examination methods to reptiles? Alessia Lavigne, University of Sheffield
10:45 Break and refreshments

Session 2

11:15 Live demonstration of egg dissections, Dr Nicola Hemmings, University of Sheffield
12:30 Lunch

Session 3

13:30 Panel discussion and Q&A - Fertility/breeding issues in captive breeding programmes, Gary Ward, ZSL Curator of Birds, Dr Patricia Brekke, Dr Ashleigh Marshall, Dr Nicola Hemmings
13:45 Obtaining molecular information from unhatched eggs, Dr Nicola Hemmings/Dr Patricia Brekke

Session 4

14:00 Hands-on practical workshop and exhibition session including ‘have-a-go’ egg dissections, microscopy advice, research posters, and drop in Q&A panel

15:30 Conclusions and end of workshop, followed by optional tour of the bird collections in London Zoo, led by Gary Ward

Ticket prices

Places at this workshop are limited so please book in advance to avoid disappointment. Bookings closed at 11:59pm on Monday 11th September.

  • Full price ticket: £80
  • Student ticket: £40
  • ZSL staff: free - please get in touch for a discount code
Contact information

If you have any questions about your booking or attendance at this workshop, please email

If you have any questions about workshop content, please email Patricia Brekke at