Subscribe to MeaseyLab Blog by Email

5 years working at the CIB

31 March 2019

Celebrating 5 years of working at the CIB

It was on the 1st April 2014 that I started working at Stellenbosch University in the Centre for Invasion Biology hub. At the time, I knew that it was a great opportunity to work in one of the foremost research centres of South Africa. Now I know that it’s the best place to work on biological invasions the world over, and I here I’m going to share with you 5 reasons why the CIB is the best place that I’ve ever worked:

  1. A fab team

The Centre for Invasion Biology has the most amazing Core Team of invasion biologists all over South Africa. I’ve collaborated with quite a few of them, and it’s always a pleasure. The team encompasses those who are specialised in ecology, restoration, conservation, mathematics and social science. Together they make up the invasion scientists needed to tackle invasions anywhere. They cover a wide array of taxonomic groups, remain flexible to studying a whole lot more, and are keen to collaborate and interact with each other.

  1. A wider group of associates and alumni

The CIB has an amazing global extended network that is really important to provide context and perspective to work done in South Africa. These people contribute to some of the more ambitious projects on global invasions for which the CIB has now become world renowned. Annual workshops and meetings, inclusions on ideas and initiatives. Our associates are an exceptional ‘go to’ group, and we appreciate their input on many of our projects.

  1. Our students and post-docs

We wouldn’t be much without our excellent and hard-working students and post-docs. Working at a Centre of Excellence is no place for slackers, and our students become global leaders in invasion science. We try our best to put them at the centre of everything that we do, but we expect a lot from them, and it’s amazing how well they deliver.

  1. Our administrative and technical team

Too often, I hear other researchers moaning about the ever increasing administrative burden that universities, museums and institutes place upon researchers who are already working over any reasonable capacity. In the CIB hub, we are buffered from this by our wonderful administrative and technical staff. In particular, it’s important to mention Christy Momberg who always goes the extra mile for my students and visiting researchers. Our administrative and technical staff really are responsible for a great deal of the success of the CIB. We certainly couldn’t do it without them.

  1. The ever growing and fascinating problem of invasive species

Let’s not forget the plants and animals that inspire us. They are amazing and constantly fill us with surprises. South Africa is home to the most amazing diversity, and to top that has a bewildering array of invasions that keep us busy every day.


Cape platanna time with OTS

21 March 2019

A Whole Lotta Froggin' in Frog Week

To celebrate Frog Week, I spent the week with the OTS students in the Cape of Good Hope section of Table Mountain National Park monitoring the Cape platanna (Xenopus gilli). Another great crew from the Organisation for Tropical Studies (OTS). I was last with OTS in October (see here), and before that in October and see blog entry here, hereherehere and here.

Celebrating Frog Week was top on the list of things to do...

Getting up to all the usual tricks. The Cape of Good Hope didn't let us down; we saw rain, we saw sun, and pretty much everything in between. And the frog FFP crew were magnificent, presiding over a catch of >600 animals, this rivals any previous haul from this event.

Of course, no good OTS trip would be complete without the annual Suur Dam running event. It was super special this year as most of the OTS crew took part, and Caitlin broke the 30 second barrier - previously thought to be impossible. 

  Frogs  Lab  Xenopus

Frog Week!

18 March 2019

Yes - it's Frog Week!

And you might see the opinions of all sorts of people on what frogs are, but this one happens to be mine...

Enjoy your favorite frogs all week - I'll be in the field with Xenopus gilli... more on that anon.

  Frogs  Lab

Publicity for YouTube amphibian paper

14 March 2019

Wildlife Society Blog on how our YouTube paper can help identify inavsive amphibians

Our paper using YouTube to identify why people like pet amphibians has been covered in a blog by Joshua Rapp of the Wildlife Society.

Some choice quotes by Joshua here include my musings on why people want to have frogs in their living rooms. Having kept some Xenopus wittei infront of my desk during my PhD days, I do understand why it's fun to have pet clawed frogs. But many of the animals sold spend most of their times burried in the bottom of the tank, and are hardly ever seen.

And some more media coverage here:

This one written by one of our Bot-Zoo alumni features a picture of me being busy in the office. Don't miss it!

  Frogs  Lab

Alex's Pyxie paper is published

07 March 2019

Alex's paper is published in BJLinnSoc

Alex Reblo spent a very long time chasing frogs up and down a race-track up and down the country. In the end, he managed to get performance and morphometric data on 25 species and 215 individuals of pyxicephalid frogs. That's remarkable. Then he analysed all of his results in a phylogenetic framework (of his own making). Lastly, after finishing his thesis (for which he received a cum laude), Alex turned this chapter into a brilliant paper, published today.

The Pyxicephalidae is the most speciose family of frogs in southern Africa, making up more than half of all the species in South Africa. They are surprisingly diverse, inhabiting all of the country's biomes, from deserts to forests and swamps. They go from the smallest of our frogs (the aptly named micro frog) to the largest (the African bullfrog). They have also adapted into many forms, burrowing, swimming, tree living, not to mention a host of different reproductive traits. They really are a remarkable family.

Alex has his own YouTube channel where he's published some of the amazing things that he saw doing his MSc. In the clip below, you'll see the Klipheuwel Dainty Frog (Cacosternum aggestum) calling...

Alex specifically wanted to know whether there was evidence that these frogs had adapted to their environment. I won't spoil it for you, but encourage you to read his excellent paper:

Rebelo, A. & Measey, J. (in press) Locomotor performance constrained by morphology and habitat in a diverse clade of African frogs (Anura: Pyxicephalidae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society pdf

  Frogs  Lab
Creative Commons Licence
The MeaseyLab Blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.