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Risk analysis - EC style

12 October 2018

Risk Assessment at the European Commission in Brussels

I was invited to attend the a group of risk assessors at the European Commission in Brussels. It was an interesting insight into the shadowy world of the commission (what I saw of it at the DG Environment Building) anyway. The African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis, was one of ten species that the group was assessing. I had reviewed the assessment before going to Brussels, but the visit allowed me to interact with the group that made the assessment, and this led to some important modifications.

You might see some familiar faces including (former CIB visiting fellow) Sven Bacher, Tim Adrieans, Helen Roy and Riccardo Scalera. 

It was great to work with this dedicated group and listen to discussions on some other emerging invasive species in the EU including the evil variable squirrel that has already invaded parts of Italy, but is an increasingly popular pet. You may or may not know how much I dislike squirrels, but I was heartened to hear that they taste better than rabbit. 

  Frogs  Lab  meetings  Xenopus

Bullfrog diet

02 October 2018

Bullfrog diet shows widespread predation on small vertebrates of the Andaman Islands - published today

Regular readers of this blog will know that I visited the Andaman Islands in February 2018 (see blog entry here). During that visit, Nitya and I finished the manuscript on the diet of invasive Indian bullfrogs that are expanding their range in the area. We went into Port Blair to submit the manuscript to PeerJ. This took us much of the day as not only was the internet very very slow, but there were frequent power cuts that constantly interrupted the task.

Below: Nitya sitting in a very small box in an internet cafe in Port Blair submitting his ms to PeerJ

Above: Nitya now sitting in my office in Stellenbosch sending back the proof of the same paper to PeerJ

The paper explores diet of invasive bullfrogs on the Andaman Islands. We found that bullfrogs ate most things, including many of the indigenous vertebrates on the islands.

Mohanty, N.P. & Measey, J. (2018) What’s for dinner? Diet and potential trophic impact of an invasive anuran Hoplobatrachus tigerinus on the Andaman archipelago. PeerJ   10.7717/peerj.5698

  Frogs  Lab

Community ecology reconciles with Invasion biology

22 September 2018

Workshop on communityecology and invasion ecology, Stellenbosch, September 19-21

A workshop organised by Guillaume Latombe, Cang Hui & Dave Richardson was held at Dornier Wine Estate, near Stellenbosch, from 19 to 21 September. It was surprisingly chilly inside the main house, but luckily we were allowed out for meals and to warm up in the sun.

We aimed to answer two fundamental questions: 

1. How are community models/theories and invasion hypotheses related to each other through fundamental processes?
2. How can the combination of predictions from the two fields enable us to differentiate the roles of these fundamental processes for generating/maintaining biological diversity or driving biological invasions.

The workshop was a combination of keynotes and reflexions on these two questions, together with working groups working hard on common hypotheses from the two disciplines. 

Attendees included Jon Chase (iDiv, Germany), Franck Couchamp (CNRS, France), William Bond (SAEON/UCT, South Africa), Res Altwegg (UCT, South Africa), Guy Midgley (Stellenbosch, South Africa) and the usual smattering of CIB groupies. 

  Lab  meetings

Meeting up with Patrick Lavelle

19 September 2018

A blast from the past

Great to meet up with Patrick Lavelle, formerly of University of Paris VI (Université Pierre et Marie Curie) and Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD). Patrick headed up the UMR137 Laboratoire d'Ecologie des Sols Tropicaux (LEST). IRD/Université de Paris VI.

I spent 3 years in Patrick’s lab at IRD in Bondy, near Paris, and left to go to University of Antwerp in 2004.

Great to see him again after all these years. Patrick now lives in Columbia with his wife, Helena.


A new method to reconstruct invasion histories

14 September 2018

Nitya punches hard with his first PhD pub

Out online early in Biological Invasions, Nitya shows how you can use interviews with local people to reconstruct the invasion of a species. 

This is a great paper where Nitya went to 91 villages across the Andaman Islands to interview local people in order to discover when and where Indian Bullfrogs had invaded the islands. A quick look through these time slices below will show not only the sites of initial invasion, but also how they spread. 

In the figure, each panel relates to a different time period: a 2001–2003, b 2004–2006, c 2007–2009, d 2010–2012, and e 2013–2015. Coloured symbols indicate new populations reported in each time period, with colours of each time period being fixed in the following periods. Circles denote fish culture as the most reported pathway, triangles denote release, and squares denote no response. Half-filled symbols indicate uncertainty in dispersal information (less than 50% responses). The direction of introduction and dispersal pathways is marked with arc line (fish culture) and straight line (release), where dotted lines indicate uncertainty in source.

Want to read more? Catch the paper now at Biological Invasions:

Mohanty, N.P. & Measey, J. (in press) Reconstructing biological invasions using public surveys: a new approach to retrospectively assess spatio-temporal changes in invasive spread. Biological Invasions   DOI: 10.1007/s10530-018-1839-4

  Frogs  Lab
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