Frogs go astro

16 November 2017

Meeting of astrophysics and frogs

It was great to meet up with physicists Ninan Sajeeth Philip (St. Thomas College) and Ashish Mahabal (CalTech). Although our 'big data' is not nearly as big as theirs, it'll be great to explore how our areas of research overlap. 

Looking forward to getting your great minds working on our little frog problems!

  Lab  meetings

CIB Annual Research Meeting - Natasha takes a prize

10 November 2017

The 13th Annual Research Meeting of the CIB - Congratulations Natasha!

The 13th Annual Research Meeting of the CIB took place at Stellenbosch University Thursday and Friday.

Presentations were made by Nitya, Natasha and Marike.

From top right:

1. The judges receive their thank you presents from Dave Richardson: Piero Genovesi, Laura Meyerson, Petr Pyšek & Tim Blackburn.

2. Marike answers a question from the audience (and who was part of the winning pod)

3. Natasha gives the talk that won her best runner up for a PhD presentation

4. Nitya wows the audience with the size of his bullfrog. 

Well done to the whole lab who put on a magnificent set of froggy presentations. Especially well done to Natasha!

  aSCR  Frogs  Lab  meetings  prizes  Xenopus

"Aquatic" Xenopus move all over the place and up to 2.4 km overland!

10 November 2017

Xenopus not so aquatic

A new paper using the data from Andre's MSc project shows that African clawed frogs move large distances overland (up to 2.4 km). The 3 year study found that 5% of frogs moved between 8 ponds in the study area of Kleinmond. This amount of movement may be so much that these frogs can no longer be considered a metapopulation. 

We got the top slot on the PeerJ website (again!). 

The really surprising result is the amount of movement between sites, and the animals that were moving. We found no evidence of the smallest size classes of frogs moving between ponds. This would turn the dispersal paradigm on its head for this species. For most pond breeding frogs, it is the metamorphs and juveniles which are responsible for most of the dispersal within a population. This may not happen for X. laevis as smaller animals are so much more susecptible to dessication. The study isn't over and we will be following up on this idea in years to come. 

De Villiers FA, Measey J. (2017Overland movement in African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis): empirical dispersal data from within their native rangePeerJ 5:e4039 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.4039

Read the article here

Thanks to @Xen_Ben for the blog title!

  Frogs  Lab  Xenopus

Zishan's MSc in the bag

03 November 2017

Spatial frogs tick all the boxes for Zishan's MSc

Zishan Ebrahim's MSc thesis on using spatial data for the conservation of frogs on the Cape peninsula passes all the necessary paperwork. 

It's been great working with Zishan over the past couple of years and we're all really pleased to see his thesis pass the final hurdle. Congratulations Zishan!

  Lab  News

Avoid zig-zag and use parallelism

03 November 2017

Avoid zig-zag and use parallelism

This is the advice in a new ‘how to write’ paper by Mensh & Kording (2017).

Zig-zag is where you change subjects multiple times, or distract the reader by focussing on a subject that is not your central theme. This does not mean that you should not mention other subjects, just that you should not allow them to distract the reader by repeating or jumping back to unrelated ideas once you have arrived on your central theme.

Parallelism is around consistency with your topics or variables. Let’s say that you introduce three key variables in your introduction, and later want to discuss them. Parallelism requires you to use them in the same order and in the same way so that the reader can easily follow each of these concepts, even if they skip around in reading the paper.

I remember this same advice when having one of my papers edited. The editor complained that I had brought up three variables in the introduction and then used a different order in the methods, and yet another order in the discussion. Satisfying the editor meant re-writing all sections, and that never something that an author relishes. Thus, it’s a really useful tip to bear in mind in your planning. In this case, the editor had an inspiring message: I want this to be a highly cited classic paper.

We should all want our papers to be read and cited, and once accepted they can’t be easily changed (and certainly not re-written), so getting it right is important: even if you consider your work to be minor now, think of it as a future classic.

  Lab  Writing