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Killer tadpoles threaten Andaman archipelago’s native frog species

11 April 2019

Popular article on killer tadpoles

Nitya’s prize winning popular article has finally come out in The Conversation. The article, which covers the content of Nitya’s recent paper in Biological Invasions.

You may remember that at the CIB Annual Research Meeting, Nitya won the prize for the best PhD popular article. His cash prize enables him to go to an international meeting, and he's chosen to go and present at the 3rd Island Biology conference on La Réunion in July 2019. 


Note Nitya's new tag-line is as a post-doc at Stellenbosch University. Yes, Dr Nitya graduated, and you can read about that day here.

Mohanty, N. (2019) Killer tadpoles threaten Andaman archipelago’s native frog species. The Conversation.

  Frogs  Lab  prizes

Nitya's big day

05 April 2019

Graduation day for Dr Nitya Prakesh Mohanty & Kirstin Stephens MSc

Graduation day is a a scarlet affair for PhD graduands at Stellenbosch University. Here is the recently hooded Dr Mohanty:

A hall full of graduands. The first two rows contain all the PhDs in scarlet. Behind them the MScs and at the back Honours and BScs. Can you see Nitya checking his phone in the front row?

Also graduating today was Kirstin Stephens MSc (cum laude) who is an honorary member of the MeaseyLab as I co-supervised her study with Jaco le Roux. Sadly, we didn't manage to get a pic with Kirstin after the big event, but here's one snapped by her mum.

Congratulations to you both!

Mohanty, N.P. 2019. The invasive Indian bullfrog Hoplobatrachus tigerinus on the Andaman Islands: Evaluating drivers of distribution, density, and trophic impact of an early stage invader. PhD Thesis. Stellenbosch University

Stephens, K. 2019. Impacts of invasive birds: assessing the incidence and extent of hybridization between invasive Mallard Ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) and native Yellow-billed Ducks (Anas undulata) in South Africa. MSc Thesis. Stellenbosch University

  Frogs  Lab

Prolific Nitya knocks out another

03 April 2019

No Survival! Nitya finds that native tadpoles don't last more than a week

In a new study published today by Nitya Mohanty & colleague, an enclosure experiment shows how native amphibians from the biodiverse Andaman Islands don't stand a chance in the presence of the Indian Bullfrog. Mohanty used paddling pools as enclosures for freshly laid amphibian eggs in the wet season of these paradise islands. After the first week, Nitya noticed that nearly all of the native tadpoles that had been placed in pools with invasive Indian Bullfrogs had been eaten. He already knew that Indian Bullfrogs had carnivorous tadpoles, but he didn't expect them to be this voracious. Even in pools with only Indian Bullfrog tadpoles, the numbers quickly reduced so that only a few were left. 

After many weeks of endless rain, lots of measurements and tadpole watching, Nitya's results showed that in the absence of Indian Bullfrogs, the local tadpoles did fine, all metamorphosing with minimal problems. However, when Indian Bullfrog tadpoles were present, there was simply no survival.

Above you can see Nitya by his pools in the stunning grounds of the marvellous Andaman & Nicobar Environmental Team (ANET) in Wandoor, South Andaman (click here for a map). 

You can read all about Nitya's study in this excellent new paper:

And when he's not busy watching tadpoles, you can always find Nitya sucking on a nut...

Read the latest research at:

Mohanty, N.P. & Measey, J. (in press) No survival of native larval frogs in the presence of invasive Indian bullfrog Hoplobatrachus tigerinus tadpoles Biological Invasions  DOI: 10.1007%2Fs10530-019-01985-z pdf


5 years working at the CIB

31 March 2019

Celebrating 5 years of working at the CIB

It was on the 1st April 2014 that I started working at Stellenbosch University in the Centre for Invasion Biology hub. At the time, I knew that it was a great opportunity to work in one of the foremost research centres of South Africa. Now I know that it’s the best place to work on biological invasions the world over, and I here I’m going to share with you 5 reasons why the CIB is the best place that I’ve ever worked:

  1. A fab team

The Centre for Invasion Biology has the most amazing Core Team of invasion biologists all over South Africa. I’ve collaborated with quite a few of them, and it’s always a pleasure. The team encompasses those who are specialised in ecology, restoration, conservation, mathematics and social science. Together they make up the invasion scientists needed to tackle invasions anywhere. They cover a wide array of taxonomic groups, remain flexible to studying a whole lot more, and are keen to collaborate and interact with each other.

  1. A wider group of associates and alumni

The CIB has an amazing global extended network that is really important to provide context and perspective to work done in South Africa. These people contribute to some of the more ambitious projects on global invasions for which the CIB has now become world renowned. Annual workshops and meetings, inclusions on ideas and initiatives. Our associates are an exceptional ‘go to’ group, and we appreciate their input on many of our projects.

  1. Our students and post-docs

We wouldn’t be much without our excellent and hard-working students and post-docs. Working at a Centre of Excellence is no place for slackers, and our students become global leaders in invasion science. We try our best to put them at the centre of everything that we do, but we expect a lot from them, and it’s amazing how well they deliver.

  1. Our administrative and technical team

Too often, I hear other researchers moaning about the ever increasing administrative burden that universities, museums and institutes place upon researchers who are already working over any reasonable capacity. In the CIB hub, we are buffered from this by our wonderful administrative and technical staff. In particular, it’s important to mention Christy Momberg who always goes the extra mile for my students and visiting researchers. Our administrative and technical staff really are responsible for a great deal of the success of the CIB. We certainly couldn’t do it without them.

  1. The ever growing and fascinating problem of invasive species

Let’s not forget the plants and animals that inspire us. They are amazing and constantly fill us with surprises. South Africa is home to the most amazing diversity, and to top that has a bewildering array of invasions that keep us busy every day.


Cape platanna time with OTS

21 March 2019

A Whole Lotta Froggin' in Frog Week

To celebrate Frog Week, I spent the week with the OTS students in the Cape of Good Hope section of Table Mountain National Park monitoring the Cape platanna (Xenopus gilli). Another great crew from the Organisation for Tropical Studies (OTS). I was last with OTS in October (see here), and before that in October and see blog entry here, hereherehere and here.

Celebrating Frog Week was top on the list of things to do...

Getting up to all the usual tricks. The Cape of Good Hope didn't let us down; we saw rain, we saw sun, and pretty much everything in between. And the frog FFP crew were magnificent, presiding over a catch of >600 animals, this rivals any previous haul from this event.

Of course, no good OTS trip would be complete without the annual Suur Dam running event. It was super special this year as most of the OTS crew took part, and Caitlin broke the 30 second barrier - previously thought to be impossible. 

  Frogs  Lab  Xenopus
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