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Nitya talks at Island Biology Conference

11 July 2019

Nitya talks at Island Biology 2019

Some of you may remember that Nitya won a prize for the best popular article at the CIB ARM back in November 2018 (see blog post here). The cash prize gave him enough money to attend an international meeting, of his choice. Nitya opted to attend the Island Biology 2019 meeting on Reunion. He managed to roll some other work into the trip, by joining the mascarene toad team on Mauritius (see blog post here).

Now Nitya is presenting his talk at the conference in the symposium: Future steps to fight against invasive species on islands.

I'm sure that it will be well received. 

Read more about Nitya and his PhD thesis research here. Read my blog about visiting the Andaman Islands here.

Mohanty, NP, Hui, C & Measey, J (2019) Invasion dynamics of an amphibian with frequent human-mediated translocations on the Andaman archipelago. Island Biology, La  LaRéunion 8-13 July 2019.

  Frogs  Lab  meetings

National Symposium on Biological Invasions

17 May 2019

National Symposium on Biological Invasions

The National Symposium on Biological Invasions took place between 15–17 May, 2019, at Waterval Country Lodge, Tulbagh. It was an interesting meeting jointly hosted by the CIB and SANBI. 

We had three very interesting plenary lectures from Peter Lukey, Jasper Slingsby and Andrew Robinson.

Several talks came from the MeaseyLab (see below).

Here are some memorable moments of the Symposium.

MeaseyLab talks and abstracts:

Jubase, N., Measey, J. and Shackleton, R. (2019) A review of invasive species reporting by citizens using different platforms.

Several data management systems exist to share information and data on invasive species, but these databases operate independently and are sometimes oriented toward particular taxonomic groups or regions. Some of these databases are for professional use such as SAPIA, some are online citizen science platforms such as iNaturalist and others are social media platforms such as City of Cape Town Facebook Page and Twitter. In this study we present the preliminary findings of invasive species (listed as category 1a on NEMBA and occur in the Western Cape) reported by citizens across different databases.

Stephens, K., Measey, J., Reynolds, C. and Le Roux, J.J. (2019) Impacts of invasive birds: assessing hybridisation between invasive Mallard Ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) and native Yellow-billed Ducks (Anas undulata) in South Africa

Invasive Mallard Ducks hybridise with the Yellow-billed Duck in South Africa and threaten the genetic integrity of this native duck. We used genomic data to assess hybridisation and determine whether introgression was occurring. We found evidence of hybridisation but a low level of introgression of Mallard Duck genes into the Yellow-billed Duck population. Consequently, the Yellow-billed Duck population is largely unaffected by introgression, but introgression could become more extensive in the future. Therefore, if Mallard Duck control is conducted at a national level, there is still a good chance of protecting the genetic integrity of the Yellow-billed Duck.

Peta, S.T.P., Engelbrecht, G.D. and Measey, J.  (2019) Reptile and bird diversity along a gradient of invasive alien plants in the threatened Woodbush Granite Grassland (Limpopo Province, South Africa)

Invasive alien plants (IAP) pose a threat to biodiversity, with their impact on fauna diversity is poorly understood. The study aimed to compare reptile and bird assemblages in three habitat types: grassland, invaded areas and plantations. Reptiles and birds were surveyed using Y-trap array and point counts respectively. Variation in habitat structure was clearly indicated. Five IAP species were identified. Reptiles (23 individuals from 5 species) were recorded, with the highest abundance and diversity in the grassland. Birds (2 113 individuals from 67 species) showed the greatest abundance, diversity and richness in the invaded habitat.

Wilson, J.R., Measey, J., Richardson, D.M., Van Wilgen, B.W. and Zengeya, T.A. (2019) Biological invasions in South Africa: potential futures

The recent national status report provides a broad-brush picture of biological invasions in South Africa (or at least what monitoring or reporting is needed to improve management and policy decisions). But what of the future? In this talk, we develop scenarios of what the situation might look like a millennium from now, and follow these back through time to evaluate the long-term outcomes of current trajectories. Can such long-term visions provide insights into how we should respond to horizon scanning exercises, estimates of invasion debt, right down to decisions over management planning horizons?

Bell, J. and Measey, J. (2019) Exploring time, effort and efficacy of Guttural Toad (Sclerophrys gutturalis) extirpation efforts in Constantia, Western Cape, South Africa

Extirpations of invasive species in urban settings rely on access to many private properties, therefore requiring owner buy-in. Here we explore the relationship between owner buy-in and effort and efficacy of toad removal in a high-income low-density peri-urban setting. Early attempts to extirpate the expanding population were stymied by owners refusing access to key properties. From 2010, an emphasis was placed on building understanding with owners. To date, ~R0.8 million has removed 5 240 toads since 2011 from ~120 properties. We show an increase in access to private properties results in an increase in removals over a 9-year period.

Davies, S.J., Impson, D., Jurk-Mabin, C., Meyer, M., Rhoda, C., Stafford, L. , Stephens, K., Tafeni, M., Turner, A.A., Van Wilgen, N.J., Wilson, J.R., Wood, J.  and Measey, J. (2019) Co-ordinating alien animal control in the Cape Floristic Region

Animal invasions often go unnoticed next to those by plants, especially in the Cape Floristic Region. However, the CAPE-IAA has now been running for over 10 years, with oversight of six animal control projects, and discussion on a further 15. The group has regular and ongoing support from implementers, academics, conservation, managers and animal welfare role-players. A key forum function is the dissemination of ongoing research, and subsequent rapid implementation thereof. This also requires important and appropriate stakeholder engagement, without which many animal control projects would flounder. The success of the CAPE-IAA may be transferable to other regions.

  Lab  meetings

Cape Herp Club talks

28 February 2019

First Cape Herp Club of 2019

We kicked off late in 2019 on the last day of February, and very appropriately for Leap Frog Day we had two froggy talks from the MeaseyLab:

Natasha started off the talks with her (much practiced) talk on:

"The effects of range expansion on the survival and development of invasive Xenopus laevis tadpoles." Natasha Kruger (Stellenbosch University)

Then Carla told us about some of the work that she did for her thesis on toads in Brazil in the Caatinga, as well as some work she's currently doing on tegu lizards. 

"Relationship between seasonality, stress and immunity in anurans and lizards" Dr Carla Madelaire (Physiology Department, Univ. of São Paulo)

Both talks were well received.

It was a splendid venue at the Manor House next to the CapeNature Scientific Services centre in Jonkershoek. We got a rather special misty rain the came down as we all settled down to talks under the yellow-wood beams and the thatched roof.

  Frogs  Lab  meetings  Xenopus

African Acoustics is as easy as ABC

06 December 2018

The African Bioacoustics Community's first ever meeting: ABC

It was a fatastic full week of revealing and fascinating talks on ecological acoustics. The event had lots of representation of aSCR.

I got to show my animation video of how aSCR locates frog calls. If you haven't seen it yet, it's worth a look:


Kearns, R., Louw, M., Turner, A., Slingsby, J., Altwegg, R. Borches, D., Stevenson, B.C. & Measey, J. No more singin’ in the rain? As acoustic assessment of changing calling densities of the Cape peninsula moss frog (Athroleptella lightfooti). African Bioacoustics Community Conference, UCT December 2018.

Poongavanan, J., Altwegg, R., Durbach, I. & Measey, J. Modelling range-wide density patters of Lightfoot’s Moss Frog (Athroleptella lightfooti) using acoustic monitoring data: Do the same factors affect occurrence and density? African Bioacoustics Community Conference, UCT December 2018.


Poongavanan, J., Altwegg, R., Durbach, I. & Measey, J. Modelling range-wide density patters of Lightfoot’s Moss Frog (Athroleptella lightfooti) using acoustic monitoring data: Do the same factors affect occurrence and density? African Bioacoustics Community Conference, UCT December 2018

Altwegg, R., Measey, J., Borches, D. & Stevenson, B. Estimating density, occupancy and species richness from acoustic data. African Bioacoustics Community Conference, UCT December 2018

Measey, J., Stevenson, B., Scott, T., Altwegg, R. & Borches, D. Counting chirps: acoustic monitoring of cryptic frogs. African Bioacoustics Community Conference, UCT December 2018.


  aSCR  Lab  meetings

Dr. James talks to the Cape Herp Club

28 November 2018

Mother of Dragons gives us a talk

It was great to hear Dr. Mother give a talk about his urban dragons. Happily, James has found a country where he can give a great talk to a fabulous audience while drinking a beer.

Next stop, James will be supplying his now infamous home brew to all Cape Herpers who come on the Cape Herp retreat in early 2019... watch this space.

Speaker: Dr. James Baxter-Gilbert

Title of talk: Australian Water Dragons: Urban Evolution and Ecology

Time: 16h00 (4pm)

Venue:  Natural Sciences building, Stellenbosch University, Room 2025 (lab at far end on first floor)

James is well known in Sydney as the crazy Canadian who chases dragons everywhere. He raised hundreds of individuals from eggs and raised them in urban vs rural settings, finding that the juveniles were really distinct. You can read more about James' PhD work here.

James was part of Martin Whiting's Lizard Lab at Macquarie University, Sydney (but he's alright now). 

In 2019, we're really privaledged to have James join the MeaseyLab at the CIB, continuing his globetrotting academic herping career in South Africa. 

  Lab  meetings
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