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Time spent with the Cassey Lab in the University of Adelaide

21 January 2024

A month in the Cassey lat at the University of Adelaide

In January 2020, Phill Cassey invited me, Reid Tingley (Monash University) and Julie Lockwood (Rutgers University) to participate in an ARC Discovery grant application that he was submitting. The aim of the grant was to study the reptile trade in Australia and using past data make predictions on future trends. A large part of the data was set to acquire global data for traded reptiles to determine the demand for global species so that Australian taxa could be placed into context.

Looking back, January 2020 was just before the global pandemic, and none of us knew what was going to unfold over the coming two years. Happily, in November 2020 (despite the pandemic) the Discovery grant was funded and this included funding for a trip to Australia for me to dedicate some time to the project.

In November 2023, Phill reached out to me and reminded me that the project was soon to end and that I should either commit to visiting Australia or lose the opportunity. Happily, I was able to plan a trip in January 2024 that coincided with New Year holidays in China. And so it was that I spent a month working in the Cassey lab at the University of Adelaide.

First, I should say a big thank you to Phill Cassey and members of his lab for hosting me. It was a great experience (1) to spend some time in Australia (my first trip) and (2) to hang out with Phill’s dedicated team of reptile (and other) fundis. Special mention must go to Sebastian Chekunow, Adam Toomes, Jacob Maher and Jasmin Broadbridge - thank you for all your kindness.

In addition to lots of time spent in the office working hard on catching up with the reptile trade work that had already been done, I was able to find some time at weekends for getting out into the field seeing some native Australian reptiles. Especially important for me was the one pygopod that we managed to see.

I was especially pleased to have the opportunity to meet Emma Sherratt and talk caecilians with her.

Before I left, I gave a talk on my own research to the department in a departmental seminar.

Measey, J. (2024) What can biological invasions teach us about rapid evolutionary change? 9 February 2024 School of Biological Sciences, The University of Adelaide

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