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Publicity for Nitya's bullfrog study

31 October 2018

Nitya's research inspires reporters 

You may remember some time back that Nitya presented his research on how to reconstruct invasion histories, using his example of the Indian bullfrogs invading the Andaman Islands? You can quickly read about it here, here and here. He published the work in Biological Invasions (see here). Now the press are so impressed with the story that they have started to cover it:

You can read the article in full on the Research Matters website: here.

Interested in the Andaman Islands? Have a look at the video I made during my visit here.

  Frogs  Lab

More time on Cape platannas at Cape Point

28 October 2018

Back at the Cape of Good Hope with OTS

Great to be back at the Cape of Good Hope section of Table Mountain National Park to monitor the Cape platanna (Xenopus gilli). Another great crew from the Organisation for Tropical Studies (OTS). I was last with OTS in March (see here), and before that in October and see blog entry here, herehere and here!


Back in March, we were still in the drought, and the water was confined to small puddles in each of the sites. Now the dams are all full and we had an opportunity to get out the seine net.


Fantastic enthusiasm to pull a seine through the murky waters. A special call out to the (like) Frog Crew: Nicole Cook, Danny Feinbloom & Mijke Muller. 

  Frogs  Lab  Xenopus

Functional Response Changes with Size in Xenopus

26 October 2018

Do you remember Corey Thorp?

To jog your memories, here are a few pics of Corey doing his MSc research in the MeaseyLab between 2015 and 2016.


Corey received his MSc in March 2017, but the work didn’t stop there. Together with James Vonesh and Mhairi Alexander, we took Corey’s MSc work to publication in PeerJ.

Published today, Corey’s work shows that functional response type changes as a predator grows, despite the predator and prey being the same species. This has significance as functional response is regularly used as a static figure for invasive predators. The finding suggests that invasions may change in relation to predator prey dynamics as a cohort ages, or depending on which sized animals are dominant in each system. This is very true for African clawed frogs, Xenopus laevis, as they tend to have a single dominant cohort in a dam or pond at any one time.

Thorp CJ, Alexander ME, Vonesh JR, Measey J. (2018Size-dependent functional response of Xenopus laevis feeding on mosquito larvaePeerJ 6:e5813

  Frogs  Lab  Xenopus

Raising everyone else’s publication paywall

25 October 2018

Making Europe Open Access will only increase the height of the pay wall for everyone else

Many scientists in Europe will greet the news all authors will have to publish in Open Access journals from 2020 (M. Schiltz Front. Neurosci.12, 656; 2018  Nature 561, 17–18; 2018) with joy. But many more around the globe will be thinking of their future disenfranchisement by richer nations, institutions and funding bodies.

Open Access moves the payment hurdle before publication, requiring authors to find fees from $1000 to $3000, more than a lot of research. Scientists from low-income countries get full fee waivers (e.g. Hinari Eligibility). This leaves scientists from many other countries without fee support. Instead, publishing Open Access means using monies that were assigned for research.

There is an urgent need to begin recording the source of all publication fees, just as we now record the source of research funding. Knowing where those monies come from, will tell us who is marginalised. For example, PLoS publically declares spending 5% of income on fee waivers in 2016, but my calculations (using ISI PLoS publications for 2016) suggested that countries eligible for fee waivers only made up 1.1% of these costs. When asked PLoS declined to comment further, having no records of their fee waivers.

Looking forward to 2020, it is possible that even though fees may be capped on new and existing European Open Access publications, as long as there are still fees, scientists will be excluded from publishing. Worse, we will be forced to send our manuscripts to a lower tier of journals that retain pay walls. Science is a global responsibility, and when Science Europe move their own members forwards they risk disenfranchising others in countries that are already struggling to fund and publish their work in an increasingly costly publishing climate.

John Measey, Centre for Invasion Biology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

An edited version of this letter appeared today in Nature:

In an examination of PLoS publications in 2016, I show that PLoS gave the majority of their waivers outside of their stated policy. Publications from their list of countries that receive waivers only acounted for 1.1%, while waivers are said to be given for 5% of publications. When I contacted PLoS about this, it turns out that they don't keep any record of when or why waivers are given. As someone who regularly asks for them, I know that they are often provided on an ad hoc basis. However, the bigger picture (especially for PLoS) is that these amount to large sums of money that are unaccounted for. When you add in the consideration that publication fees regularly exceed the cost of the research, the need for recording both where these monies originate, and waivers is clear. 

  Lab  Writing

Jean Secondi talks at the French Society of Ecology

24 October 2018

Jean Secondi talks at the International Conference on Ecological Studies in Rennes, France


In the gloom of the conference room, Jean Secondi prepares to talk about invasive frogs in France. The project, which includes MeaseyLab PhD student Natasha Kruger (co-supervised by Secondi in a co-tutelle agreement with U. Lyon), aims to show control strategies for the invasive population of African clawed frogs in France. Hosted by the French Society of Ecology, this meeting has some really top names.

Peering through the gloom in the room, you can just see Jean gearing up for his talk. Sorry I couldn’t be there, but Dave Richardson managed to take and send this snap!

You can find the abstract book here and more about the meeting here. Don't forget to look out for past and present CIBers (hey Giovanni!). 

Jean Secondi, Giovanni Vimercati, Natasha Kruger, Julien Courant, John Measey, Anthony Herrel (2018) Evolutionary processes, connectivity and control strategies in Xenopus laevis. International Conference on Ecological Studies in Rennes, France (October 2018). 

  Frogs  Lab  meetings  Xenopus
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