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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

The problem with liver...

10 September 2018

The frozen liver conundrum

You want to go frog trapping tonight, but the shop only sells frozen liver. You're already in the field, so what do you do?

Liver is a really useful bait for frogs in the genus Xenopus.  Attracted by the meaty odours, the frogs will willingly come into a trap placed overnight into a ditch or pond. However, chicken livers are regularly sold frozen, and the frozen block is really hard to sparate and use. 

Here you see Marius Burger finding a solution to this frozen liver problem. Although his first key idea was functional, it wasn't popular. The next solution is, I believe, unbeatable and one that we are ready to share with you. Moreover, this might be the first time that anyone has come up with such a practical and fast solution to the frozen liver conundrum.

Thanks Marius!

  Frogs  Lab  Xenopus

Nitya takes centre stage

06 September 2018

Nitya takes centre stage

Nitya presents his work on invasion of the Andaman Islands by Indian bullfrogs (Hoplobatachus tigerinus) at the Neobiota meeting in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin, Ireland. He wowed the audience with his presentation on how he used a new approach to retrospectively understand spatio-temporal patterns of the bullfrogs’ introduction, establishment, dispersal, and spread.  in biological invasions, using the case study of an ongoing invasion of the Indian bullfrog in the Andaman archipelago, Bay of Bengal.


Photo by Dave Richardson (who spoke after Nitya - something to get used to).

Dan Simberloff was seen snapping away at Nitya’s presentation, so we expect that there’ll be some heavy citations of this article. And so there should be. Nitya has provided an excellent field-example of how to determine the early steps of an invasion.

To cap it off, Nitya heard last week that his paper on the same subject has been accepted for publication in Biological Invasions. Well done, Nitya!

Mohanty N.P. & Measey, J. Reconstructing biological invasions using public surveys: a new approach to retrospectively assess spatio-temporal changes in invasive spread. Neobiota 2018: 10th International Conference on Biological Invasions: New Directions in Invasion Biology. 4-7 September 2018. Dun Laoghaire, Dublin, Ireland.

  Frogs  Lab  meetings
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