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Red Listing the amphibians of southern Africa - again

10 April 2024

The first GAA3 meeting for Red Listing the amphibians of southern African 

The first Global Amphibian Assessment (GAA) took place in various workshops around the world from 1999 to 2002 (see Stuart et al 2004). I got involved by helping to assess the South African pipids while at University of the Western Cape (Measey 2004), and later at a workshop in Watamu, Kenya in April 2002.

I hosted the first re-assessment of South African amphibians in 2009, a process that incorporated the published strategy for conservation research on southern African amphibians. Together with other members of the workshop, we turned the results of this meeting into a book (Measey 2011), which I edited, and was published by SANBI in early 2011. The book is available as a free pdf to download, and you can get your own copy here

We repeated the Red Listing process again in November 2015 (see here) as well as appraising the results of the previous meeting (Measey et al. 2019), and these results were carried into the second Global Amphibian Assessment (GAA2), one of the outputs of which was published last year (see here) (Luedtke et al. 2023).

The assessments should be updated every five years, and so it was high time to do it again. This time we got together at the Calders Hotel in Fish Hoek.

It’s quite fun to see the faces in these images ageing. There has been a loss of a few of the older faces too. But the really great thing was to see the large number of new faces who brought with them some excellent expertise that amazed me. The workshop was hosted by Josh Weeber and current IUCN southern African Amphibian Specialist Group (IUCN-SSC) Chair Jeanne Tarrant.

This is officially the first workshop of the GAA3!

Although we spent four days solidly assessing the amphibians, we didn’t finish. Lots more work to do before we can submit the updates and have them published on the Red List site. Stay tuned for this update.

Further Reading:

Luedtke, J.A., Chanson, J., Neam, K., Hobin, L., Maciel, A.O., Catenazzi, A., Borzée, A., Hamidy, A., Aowphol, A., Jean, A., Sosa-Bartuano, Á., Fong G, A., de Silva, A., Fouquet, A., Angulo, A., Kidov, A.A., Muñoz Saravia, A., Diesmos, A.C., Tominaga, A., Shrestha, B., Gratwicke, B., Tjaturadi, B., Martínez Rivera, C.C., Vásquez Almazán, C.R., Señaris, C., Chandramouli, S.R., Strüssmann, C., Cortez Fernández, C.F., Azat, C., Hoskin, C.J., Hilton-Taylor, C., Whyte, D.L., Gower, D.J., Olson, D.H., Cisneros-Heredia, D.F., Santana, D.J., Nagombi, E., Najafi-Majd, E., Quah, E.S.H., Bolaños, F., Xie, F., Brusquetti, F., Álvarez, F.S., Andreone, F., Glaw, F., Castañeda, F.E., Kraus, F., Parra-Olea, G., Chaves, G., Medina-Rangel, G.F., González-Durán, G., Ortega-Andrade, H.M., Machado, I.F., Das, I., Dias, I.R., Urbina-Cardona, J.N., Crnobrnja-Isailović, J., Yang, J.-H., Jianping, J., Wangyal, J.T., Rowley, J.J.L., Measey, J., Vasudevan, K., Chan, K.O., Gururaja, K.V., Ovaska, K., Warr, L.C., Canseco-Márquez, L., Toledo, L.F., Díaz, L.M., Khan, M.M.H., Meegaskumbura, M., Acevedo, M.E., Napoli, M.F., Ponce, M.A., Vaira, M., Lampo, M., Yánez-Muñoz, M.H., Scherz, M.D., Rödel, M.-O., Matsui, M., Fildor, M., Kusrini, M.D., Ahmed, M.F., Rais, M., Kouamé, N.G.G., García, N., Gonwouo, N.L., Burrowes, P.A., Imbun, P.Y., Wagner, P., Kok, P.J.R., Joglar, R.L., Auguste, R.J., Brandão, R.A., Ibáñez, R., von May, R., Hedges, S.B., Biju, S.D., Ganesh, S.R., Wren, S., Das, S., Flechas, S.V., Ashpole, S.L., Robleto-Hernández, S.J., Loader, S.P., Incháustegui, S.J., Garg, S., Phimmachak, S., Richards, S.J., Slimani, T., Osborne-Naikatini, T., Abreu-Jardim, T.P.F., Condez, T.H., De Carvalho, T.R., Cutajar, T.P., Pierson, T.W., Nguyen, T.Q., Kaya, U., Yuan, Z., Long, B., Langhammer, P., Stuart, S.N., 2023. Ongoing declines for the world’s amphibians in the face of emerging threats. Nature 622, 308–314.

Measey, G.J. (2004). The Genus Xenopus (Wagler 1827). In:  Atlas and Red Data Book of the Frogs ofSouth Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland, 258-259. Minter, L.R. et al. (eds). Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. pdf

Measey, G.J. (ed.) (2011). Ensuring a Future for South Africa's Frogs: A Strategy for Conservation Research. Biodiversity Series 19. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria. pdf

Measey, J., Tarrant, J., Rebelo, A.D., Turner, A.A., Du Preez, L.H., Mokhatla, M.M., Conradie, W. (2019) Has strategic planning made a difference to amphibianconservation research in South Africa? African Biodiversity & Conservation - Bothalia   49(1), a2428. pdf

Stuart, S.N., Chanson, J.S., Cox, N.A., Young, B.E., Rodrigues, A.S.L., Fischman, D.L., Waller, R.W., 2004. Status and Trends of Amphibian Declines and Extinctions Worldwide. Science 306, 1783–1786.
  Frogs  Lab  meetings

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

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

  Frogs  Lab  meetings

Tengchong Scientists Forum

01 December 2023

2023 Tengchong Scientists Forum 

Sometimes you are told to get on a plane and go and attend a meeting. Explanations aren't forthcoming, but just an imperative that you have to go. The 2023 Tengchong Scientists Forum was one such occassion where I was told that plane tickets had been booked and I was to go and attend. 

As it turned out, I had been successful in a grant application to Yunnan Province and this was the occassion on which I had to go and sign my acceptance... on stage!

This was a big affair, and I mean really big. 

These pictures are from the rehersal, the night before. The signing took place on stage. We had to sign live (synchonously) infront of an audience on tablets behind podia. It felt a little like being a contestant on a game show. There was lots of applause and we signed. I think we signed acceptance of the grant, although this is still not clear. 

  Lab  meetings

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

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