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Visiting Macquarie University

20 February 2024

A talk for the School of Natural Sciences at Macquarie University

As I was already in Australia and had to fly back via Sydney, I decided that I’d take a stopover on the way back and visit colleagues at the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University. There are a number of notable researchers there including Martin Whiting (previously of Wits University in South Africa), Georgia Ward-Fear (with whom I had written a book chapter but never met) and Rick Shine (he of the snake and cane toad fame).

There is another important connection. Martin was the former PhD supervisor of James Baxter-Gilbert, who went on to become my post-doc in Stellenbosch University.

I was very fortunate to be hosted by Martin at his home and to get to know his family and their adventures. Martin very kindly took me frogging on a wild and windy night and I got to see a few of the region’s amphibians (Adelaide was way too dry).

As well as having a great time catching up with new and old friends at Macquarie, I was able to give a talk for the School:

Measey, J. (2024) What can biological invasions teach us about rapid evolutionary change? 20 February 2024 School of Natural Sciences at Macquarie University

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

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. 

Visiting Carla Madelaire

11 July 2023

Carla Madelaire at the San Diego Zoo

While visiting San Diego this month, I ceased the opportunity to visit Carla Madelaire in her new position at the San Diego Zoo. Carla's new position as researcher in the Frozen Zoo is a fascinating blend of laboratory experiments into the physiology of cell-lines indicating responses of whole organisms to phenomena such as climate change. Carla has literally hundreds of cell-lines for different species of vertebrates in the Frozen Zoo. 


Many of you will remember that Carla spent some time in the MeaseyLab in 2019 when she was a post-doc with Fernando Gomes (and visited together with Adriana Barsotti - see blog post here). I later caught up with Carla again in Brazil at the herp conference (see blog entry here). Carla worked on dehydration and stress in toads and still has a keen interest in these subjects.

It's going to be fascinating to see what Carla does in her new job. Really looking forward to future collaborations.

Hybrid CIB ARM for 2022

24 November 2022

The CIB holds its final ARM as a hybrid event

Every year the CIB holds an Annual Research Meeting as an opportunity for students to present their work to an audience of peers and the CIB network of Core Team Members, affiliates and associates. This year sees the last meeting in the role of the CIB under the DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence. The 2020 and 2021 events were both online affairs. 

Three MeaseyLab students presented their research findings at the meeting:

Laurie Araspin started the show by presenting a chapter from her PhD work on "Locomotor performance in Xenopus laevis" Laurie is a co-tutelle student with Anthony Herrel's MECADEV lab at the Natural History Museum in Paris.

Next Dan van Blerk presented a chapter of his MSc work on "The impact of invasive fish on ghost frog tadpoles", work that he conducted in collaboration with Josie Pegg from SAIAB. 

Lastly, Jonathan Bell presented some preliminary results from his MSc work on "Optimising conditions for controlling the invasive guttural toad". Jonathan is conducting his MSc at the CIB, but also works full time for the City of Cape Town invasive species unit.

Congratulations go to Laurie and Dan, both of whom won runners up prizes in their categories for best presentation.

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