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Frogs eating tadpoles

18 November 2018

Corey's second MSc chapter is published

African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis) appear to select against their own tadpoles and for those of a threatened congener, Xenopus gilli. That's the punchline for Corey's second MSc chapter, recently published in African Journal of Ecology. He also found that the behaviour and developmental rate of the two species was different, with X. gilli developing much faster than X. laevis

Corey conducted several experiments that are written up in this paper. The results are very interesting in the light of the threat of high numbers of X. laevis throughout the distribution of X. gilli

Read more about Corey's other published thesis chapter on functional response here.

Read this article here:

Thorp, C.J., Vonesh, J.R. & Measey, J. (in press) Cannibalism or congeneric predation? The African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis Daudin) preferentially predate on larvae of Cape platannas (X. gilli Rose & Hewitt). African Journal of Ecology DOI:10.1111/aje.12577 pdf

  Frogs  Lab  Xenopus

The 2018 CIB Annual Research Meeting

09 November 2018

Nitya takes the big prize at the CIB Annual Research Meeting

Following in the lab tradition, Nitya has added to our collective pride by taking the prize for the best PhD at the CIB ARM. This year, contestants for the prizes had to write an articles for The Conversation, an online magazine written entirely by academics. 

Top Left - Natasha, John & Nitya represented the lab. Top Right - Natasha talked about her tadpole behavioural experiments.

Bottom Left - Nitya talked about his tadpole survival experiments. Bottom Right - Nitya receives his prize from Sarah Davies.

The talks (see above) were all done in the style of the FameLab, and although neither won this heat, Nitya was invited to present his talk among the finalists. His catch phrase "babies can be mean" went down well with the crowd as well as his interjection with "spoiler alert" when Olaf Weyl guessed his tadpoles' survival had gone to zero.

It was a great meeting with lots of antics that were topped off by a great meal at Middelvlei Wine Estate

Top - John meets Oz and Candice from The Conversation

Middle left - John W & Inderjit post for a shot. Middle middle - Bo Li, Inderjit and Dave Richardson Pose for the camera. Middle right - Nitya removes his glasses for the group photo

Bottom left - Dave, Christy & Corlia are the 3 monkeys. Bottom middle - Oonsie Biggs takes questions from the audience. Bottom Right - Tricksy Ming poses with Inderjit

  Frogs  Lab  meetings  prizes  Xenopus

What literature is actually out there on herp invasions?

08 November 2018

A great new systematic review on invasive herp literature tells us that we have a biased information base

Today we're publishing a great new study that collects all of the literature on invasive reptiles and amphibians and asks what's out there, and how will it help us with risk analysis? 

Building a comprehensive view of risk analysis for invasive and potentially invasive species requires scientific studies that provide a basis for the assessments. National assessments have suggested that studies are inadequate, but no systematic assessment of literature for any group has been undertaken. In a new paper led by Nicola van Wilgen (of the Cape Research Centre, SANParks, and a CIB associate), the authors trawled literature associated with alien reptiles and amphibians. They found 836 papers that cover a vast 1116 species of herpetofauna that were alien to the countries where they were studied, but 95% of these species had <12 studies. Most of this had a focus on frogs, and especially cane toads in Australia, although we know very little of what cane toads do in other countries. This is significant as although we can do a good job of assessing the risk of cane toads in Australia, we have a poor basis for knowing what happens elsewhere. 

Most of the herpetofaunal literature (~50%) as assessed the impacts that alien species have on the environment, with very little information on trade (~2%), which is considered to be of prime importance for new invasions. The world is also uneven when it comes to research on invasive reptiles and amphibians. One hotspot is Florida, but there are plenty more areas with very little information, including China. This study provides an insight into the way in which scientists still need to gather much more information on alien species so that we can make meaningful assessments on their future risk.


Other groups, like crocodiles and turtles, are much better documented relative to the total number of species in the group. This is mostly because there are very few species in the group and so the ones that have been studied make up a high proportion. 

There's lots more interesting stats and discussion, so please read the paper and see what you think!

Van Wilgen, N.J., Gillespie, M.S., Richardson, D.M. & Measey, J. (2018) A taxonomically and geographically constrained information base limits non-native reptile and amphibian risk assessment: a systematic review. PeerJ   10.7717/peerj.5850

  Frogs  Lab  Xenopus

Facilitated Networks in Invasion Science

06 November 2018

Workshop on facilitated networks in Invasion Science

It was a great pleasure to welcome invasion biologists representing Brazil (Silvia Ziller), India (Inderjit) and China (Bo Li) in our workshop. The plan was to explore the value of creating facilitated networks, like the CIB, in other BRICS countries to help offset the accumulating invasion debt from their growing economic activities.

Our workshop started with a talk given by Susan Canavan based on the paper by Packer et al (2017). Then Dave Richardson provided an overview of the CIB followed by contributions about networks in Brazil, India and China from our invited guests. Lastly, I gave a talk about the proposed facilitated network that could see CIB style networks being set-up in BRICS nations.

I'm pleased to say that the idea was well received and we are planning to press ahead with our policy piece on this issue once we've finalised the manuscript. Watch this space...

  Lab  meetings

Biological Invasions in South Africa

03 November 2018

The status of biological invasions and their management in South Africa

Although it was published over a year ago, the status report has only just been released by SANBI. The report is a culmination of 2 years of work by the SANBI-CIB team. You may remember the 43rd Annual Research Symposium on the Management of Biological Invasions held in Goudini Spa in May 2016. That resulted in a special issue of Bothalia, which formed the basis for the data in the report. Thereafter, the authors and editors worked hard to glean the rest of the data from all over South Africa.

From the MeaseyLab, both Giovanni Vimercati and John Measey were contributors to this endevour.


Download your copy here

The importance of this status report has been recognised in an article that has just been published in by Sarah Wild in Nature.  Wild comments that this is “…this is the first comprehensive synthesis of the state of invasive species by any country.” Something of which we are very proud at the CIB. On the down side, the report concludes that while invasive species cost South Africa ZAR 6.5 billion a year, we are currently losing the battle.

And another write-up in Business Insider, also be Sarah Wild.

Management need to work in concert with researchers and implementers to maximise the efficiency of the money to combat the invasive species. This is not easy, but can be done.

Van Wilgen, B.W. & Wilson, J.R. (Eds.) 2018. The status of biological invasions and their management in South Africa in 2017. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Kirstenbosch and DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology, Stellenbosch. ISBN: 978-1-928224-18-1

  Frogs  Lab
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