Subscribe to MeaseyLab Blog by Email

XTBG talk on rapid evolutionary change

28 November 2023

A talk at the amazing Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Few venues to give a talk rival visiting the spectacular Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (more commonly referred to as XTBG) research centre run by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The location is within the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture in southern Yunnan Province near the border with Laos. The gardens are set on an island in a meandering river, and are host to more than 4000 species of plants, including tropical forest native to the area.

I provided a summary of the MeaseyLab work on rapid adaptation in Guttural Toads and African Clawed Frogs, which went down very well with many rapid-fire questions. Afterwards, we had an amazing meal and discussion with many researchers also working on complementary themes around rapid evolution. Thanks to my hosts Kyle Tomlinson and Ahimsa Special thanks to Yiran, Niña, Thilina and Ade for all their kindness.

It is always a pleasure to visit and meet all of the enthusiastic researchers from all over south-east Asia. There is an amazing mixture of research projects including invasive plants and animals. I’m really looking forward to my next visit.


Measey, J. (2023) What can biological invasions teach us about rapid evolutionary change? 28 November 2023. Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Laurie's PhD examination

16 November 2023

Laurie becomes Dr. Araspin

Those of you who follow this blog will be very familiar with Laurie Araspin as she has been the subject of lots of posts over the years (for example, see here, here and here). 

It was a rainy day in Paris and the gig didn't start well with all the normal IT problems associated with trying to marry a live event with an online audience, but Laurie braved it out and presented her thesis work to a packed auditorium. 

Finally, after the presentation was done, the jury deliberated and pronounced Laurie to be Dr. Araspin. And then the party began. 

The jury consisted of some familiar faces to MeaseyLab members past and present.

Bottom right, Carlos Navas (on screen from Sao Paulo or perhaps on sabbatical in the USA) is having his audio checked by Anthony Herrel and Laurie. Bottom left, Raoul Van Damme admires Laurie's Kamasutra des grenouilles. Top right, Jean Secondi poses with a friend he found at the party. Top left, all jury members have lunch before the presentation (Sandrine Meylan, Laurent Coen) and online joined by Hannes van Wyk from South Africa. 

It was also fabulous to meet Lauries family and friends who supported her throughout her academic journey. 

The examination of a PhD is the end of a long journey and also a time to reflect on a set of great work accomplished by an individual working within a team. Laurie well deserves her new title, and we look forward to seeing what she will do with it.

Read the thesis:

Araspin, L. (2023) Thermal adaptation in an invasive frog (Xenopus laevis): impact of temperature on locomotion and physiology. PhD thesis. MNHN and Stellenbosch University

  Frogs  Lab  Xenopus

A dearth of African amphibian experts

15 November 2023

Great coverage for MeaseyLab amphibian conservation work

In a great article on African conservation research, Engla Duvenage laments on the paucity of African amphibian workers, together with some highlights of real conservation research that is being conducted on the continent. 

Read the article here: 

Duvenage, E. (2023) Measuring threats to Africa’s amphibians. Nature Africa doi:

  Frogs  Lab

Jonathan is asking questions

11 November 2023

How do you control invasive species on private land?

Jonathan Bell is conducting field work for his MSc. In the first chapter, Jonathan is asking how it is possible to get access into private property in order to control invasive species. To do this, Jonanthan has been out and about asking people all over Cape Town to answer a questionnaire. 

In order to achieve a complete picture, Jonanthan is travelling to all areas of the city to ask everyone his questions.

It will be fascinating to find out how people from different areas of Cape Town feel about the control of invasive species on their private property. We are really looking forward to seeing the results.

In the second chapter, Jonathan is trying to find out the conditions under which contractors can maximise catching invasive species. In this chapter, he is interested in control of the invasive Guttural Toad. He has enlisted the help of contractors who are actively removing these animals from Cape Town properties. Jonathan has annual training sessions to have contractors collect data that he can use in his models. 

The toad team with their clipboards collecting toads and data for Jonathan's study.

The time to collection of each toad is noted together with the exact location and variables associated with the property on which the toads are found.

Using this data, Jonathan will be able to predict the exact conditions under which toads are most likely to be collected. This will maximize the value of the eradication campaign. 

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