We extend our warmest invitation to the 2014 Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (JMIH) in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The meeting will take place at the Chattanooga Convention Center, July 30 – August 3. The 2014 JMIH includes the 30th annual meeting of the American Elasmobranch Society, the 57th annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, the 72nd annual meeting of the Herpetologists' League, and the 94th annual meeting of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.
Located on the Tennessee River, Chattanooga has an amazing biological and cultural heritage right in our backyard. Our region is centrally located in the Southeast’s biodiversity hotspot. With close proximity to the Cumberland, Tennessee, and Mobile river drainages, more than 395 species of fish, almost a third of the nation’s diversity, are found in these three drainages, just 3% of the land area of the United States. Over 150 species of amphibians have been documented from the Southeast, largely dominated by salamanders. This region is also a global hotspot for turtle species, though there are also plenty of snakes and lizards to keep meeting attendees excited.
Archaeological digs on Maclellan Island in the heart of downtown have unearthed evidence of human history here dating back at least 12,000 years. The Cherokee knew the Tennessee River as Yu-nwi Gunahita, the Long Man. This giant had his head in the foothills and his feet down in the lowlands. Today, the city of Chattanooga rises from Ross’s Landing, a trading post established in 1816 by Chief John Ross, the leader of the Cherokee Nation. Sadly, Ross’s Landing became known as the beginning of the Trail of Tears just 20 years later when the Cherokee were forcibly removed from the region and sent to Oklahoma.
The first written account of the area by Europeans dates to around 1540 when Hernando DeSoto passed through this part of the Tennessee River Valley. Starting in 1773, William Bartram led a 4-year, 2400-mile expedition through the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana, exploring the region while describing the flora, fauna, geography, and customs of the Native American tribes. John Muir passed by just to the northeast in 1867 on his thousand mile walk to the Gulf of Mexico.
Bordering Georgia and Alabama, Chattanooga continues to be a major hub of southeastern travel with just a two hour drive to Atlanta, Nashville, Knoxville, and Birmingham. Chattanooga boasts one of the nation's top ten green convention centers, a state-of-the-art, one-level, 185,000 square foot facility. The city offers an airport that offers non-stop and one-stop connections to over 1,000 destinations, a free zero-emission electric shuttle system, a public bike transit system, and unique off-site function venues and recreational options. There are also more than 50 restaurants near the meeting site downtown, offering Southern comfort food, tasty barbecue, or fine dining for special occasions. Many also feature locally sourced meat and produce from the many farms throughout the region. If you’re looking for a fast bite to eat, head to Center Park on Market St. between 11 am and 2 pm Tuesday through Friday for a thriving food truck scene.
Chattanooga is also home to the Tennessee Aquarium, the largest freshwater aquarium in the world. During our meeting’s social event, you can journey through two buildings, the River Journey and the Ocean Journey, where 10,000 animals represent 510 species of fishes (including sharks and rays!), amphibians, and reptiles. If you have a chance, enjoy the IMAX 3D movie theater with a screen six stories tall or ride the River Gorge Explorer for a high-speed trip down the Tennessee River. Other museums and attractions in the community offer diverse options for education and entertainment, from the Creative Discovery Museum to the Hunter Museum of American Art. Just past the Bluff View Art District is the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Nightfall, a free concert series just a few blocks from the Convention Center runs on Friday nights, or you can hit Riverfront Nights on Saturday night to listen to music by the Tennessee River. If you extend your stay in the region, you might learn why Chattanooga is consistently ranked as one of the top outdoor cities in the U.S. Snorkel in the Conasauga River, raft the Ocoee River, visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, or even try hang gliding from Lookout Mountain.
July is the hottest month on average in Chattanooga, with a low temperature typically around 70° F (21° F) to a high of 90° F (32° C). You’ll want to bring a rain jacket in case of afternoon thunderstorms, and a water bottle to help stay hydrated… though the humidity often makes it feel like you could just drink our air.
On behalf of the local committee, I’m happy to welcome you to join us for some old-fashioned southern hospitality in the heart of the Southeast. From our biodiversity to our barbecue, we think you’ll have a great time exploring Chattanooga. We look forward to seeing you in 2014!
Anna George, LHC chair
Local Host Committee
Josh Ennen, Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute
Bernie Kuhajda, Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute
David Neely, Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute
Eric O’Neill, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga