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Dan graduates

30 March 2023

Graduation time for Dan

Dan van Blerk has been in the MeaseyLab since his Honours project in 2019 (see here), when he conducted a literature review on the impacts of invasive lizards around the world. In late 2019, Dan and I met with Olaf Weyl to plan Dan’s MSc fieldwork over the next two years. With all three of us filled with enthusiasm for the upcoming adventure and what it would achieve, we were about to find out that fate had other plans.

Very sadly, Olaf died later that same year, and subsequently did not get to participate in any of the plans. He is greatly missed, and we continue to remember his initial enthusiasm for the project. Happily, Josie Pegg was soon on hand to take over from the SAIAB side, and in doing so saved the project. However, just as we were about to deploy Dan into the streams of the Western Cape, we were hit by another big setback. The world suddenly shut down, and with it Dan was confined to quarters and we decided that we’d have to conduct at least one of his chapters as a literature review instead of in the field as planned.

During 2021, Dan managed to get two notes published on natural history observations that he’d made during his time in the MeaseyLab (van Blerk 2021 a,b).

Eventually, Dan did get out into the field and surveyed many locations in many streams for ghost frog tadpoles and invasive fish. The work was a real advance for conservation evidence in the impacts of invasive fish on these frogs. Dan presented his work in the Conservation Symposium (see here). We got used to seeing Dan presenting online and in person (see here and here). His findings have already been submitted to Aquatic Invasions, and we hope to announce publication of his chapter soon. Watch this space. Dan defended his MSc work in February this year (see here).

It was great having Dan in the lab, even if he didn’t spend much of the three years physically with us. We wish him all the best in his subsequent career and hope that he’ll keep in touch.

Read more:

van Blerk, D. (2023) The Impacts of Invasive Fish on Ghost Frog tadpoles. MSc thesis, Stellenbosch University.

Van Blerk, D., Reissig, J., Riley, J.L., Measey, J., Baxter-Gilbert, J. (2021) Observations of infanticide and cannibalism in four species of cordylid lizard (Squamata: Cordylidae) in captivity and the wild. Herpetology Notes 14: 725-729. pdf

Van Blerk, D., Measey, J., Baxter-Gilbert, J.H. (2021) Predation by a Brown Widow Spider, Latrodectus geometricus (Koch, 1841), on a Common Dwarf Gecko, Lygodactylus capensis (Smith, 1849), with a review of the herpetofaunal diet of Latrodectus spp. Herpetology Notes 14: 291-296. pdf

  Frogs  Lab  prizes

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.

Prize winning Jenicca

26 June 2020

A big congratulations to Jenicca Poongavanan who won best poster at the first virtual International Statistical Ecology Conference 2020

Some of you may remember that Jenicca did her MSc with Res Altwegg, Ian Durbach and myself in SEEC at UCT. Jenicca used aSCR (generated by Marike Louw) to investigate the spatial distribution of densities of the Peninsula Moss Frog, Arthroleptella lightfootii.  To read more about Jenicca's thesis, and aSCR in general see here and here. Jenicca has since moved to a lab in Florida where she now studies sea-birds (see here).

Poongavanan, J., Altwegg, R., Durbach, I. Measey, J. 2020 Modelling the range-wide density patterns of the Arthroleptella Lightfooti using acoustic monitoring data. (Poster) International Statistical Ecology Conference  (virtual): June 22-26, 2020.

  aSCR  Frogs  Lab  meetings  prizes

Killer tadpoles threaten Andaman archipelago’s native frog species

11 April 2019

Popular article on killer tadpoles

Nitya’s prize winning popular article has finally come out in The Conversation. The article, which covers the content of Nitya’s recent paper in Biological Invasions.

You may remember that at the CIB Annual Research Meeting, Nitya won the prize for the best PhD popular article. His cash prize enables him to go to an international meeting, and he's chosen to go and present at the 3rd Island Biology conference on La Réunion in July 2019. 


Note Nitya's new tag-line is as a post-doc at Stellenbosch University. Yes, Dr Nitya graduated, and you can read about that day here.

Perinchery, A. Indian bullfrogs take to invasive behaviour early in Andamans. The Hindu.

Mohanty, N. (2019) Killer tadpoles threaten Andaman archipelago’s native frog species. The Conversation.

and an article on the CIB website:

  Frogs  Lab  prizes

The 2018 CIB Annual Research Meeting

09 November 2018

Nitya takes the big prize at the CIB Annual Research Meeting

Following in the lab tradition, Nitya has added to our collective pride by taking the prize for the best PhD at the CIB ARM. This year, contestants for the prizes had to write an articles for The Conversation, an online magazine written entirely by academics. 

Top Left - Natasha, John & Nitya represented the lab. Top Right - Natasha talked about her tadpole behavioural experiments.

Bottom Left - Nitya talked about his tadpole survival experiments. Bottom Right - Nitya receives his prize from Sarah Davies.

The talks (see above) were all done in the style of the FameLab, and although neither won this heat, Nitya was invited to present his talk among the finalists. His catch phrase "babies can be mean" went down well with the crowd as well as his interjection with "spoiler alert" when Olaf Weyl guessed his tadpoles' survival had gone to zero.

It was a great meeting with lots of antics that were topped off by a great meal at Middelvlei Wine Estate

Top - John meets Oz and Candice from The Conversation

Middle left - John W & Inderjit post for a shot. Middle middle - Bo Li, Inderjit and Dave Richardson Pose for the camera. Middle right - Nitya removes his glasses for the group photo

Bottom left - Dave, Christy & Corlia are the 3 monkeys. Bottom middle - Oonsie Biggs takes questions from the audience. Bottom Right - Tricksy Ming poses with Inderjit

  Frogs  Lab  meetings  prizes  Xenopus
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