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Cape platanna time with OTS

21 March 2019

A Whole Lotta Froggin' in Frog Week

To celebrate Frog Week, I spent the week with the OTS students in the Cape of Good Hope section of Table Mountain National Park monitoring the Cape platanna (Xenopus gilli). Another great crew from the Organisation for Tropical Studies (OTS). I was last with OTS in October (see here), and before that in October and see blog entry here, hereherehere and here.

Celebrating Frog Week was top on the list of things to do...

Getting up to all the usual tricks. The Cape of Good Hope didn't let us down; we saw rain, we saw sun, and pretty much everything in between. And the frog FFP crew were magnificent, presiding over a catch of >600 animals, this rivals any previous haul from this event.

Of course, no good OTS trip would be complete without the annual Suur Dam running event. It was super special this year as most of the OTS crew took part, and Caitlin broke the 30 second barrier - previously thought to be impossible. 

  Frogs  Lab  Xenopus

Frog Week!

18 March 2019

Yes - it's Frog Week!

And you might see the opinions of all sorts of people on what frogs are, but this one happens to be mine...

Enjoy your favorite frogs all week - I'll be in the field with Xenopus gilli... more on that anon.

  Frogs  Lab

Publicity for YouTube amphibian paper

14 March 2019

Wildlife Society Blog on how our YouTube paper can help identify inavsive amphibians

Our paper using YouTube to identify why people like pet amphibians has been covered in a blog by Joshua Rapp of the Wildlife Society.

Some choice quotes by Joshua here include my musings on why people want to have frogs in their living rooms. Having kept some Xenopus wittei infront of my desk during my PhD days, I do understand why it's fun to have pet clawed frogs. But many of the animals sold spend most of their times burried in the bottom of the tank, and are hardly ever seen.

  Frogs  Lab

Alex's Pyxie paper is published

07 March 2019

Alex's paper is published in BJLinnSoc

Alex Reblo spent a very long time chasing frogs up and down a race-track up and down the country. In the end, he managed to get performance and morphometric data on 25 species and 215 individuals of pyxicephalid frogs. That's remarkable. Then he analysed all of his results in a phylogenetic framework (of his own making). Lastly, after finishing his thesis (for which he received a cum laude), Alex turned this chapter into a brilliant paper, published today.

The Pyxicephalidae is the most speciose family of frogs in southern Africa, making up more than half of all the species in South Africa. They are surprisingly diverse, inhabiting all of the country's biomes, from deserts to forests and swamps. They go from the smallest of our frogs (the aptly named micro frog) to the largest (the African bullfrog). They have also adapted into many forms, burrowing, swimming, tree living, not to mention a host of different reproductive traits. They really are a remarkable family.

Alex has his own YouTube channel where he's published some of the amazing things that he saw doing his MSc. In the clip below, you'll see the Klipheuwel Dainty Frog (Cacosternum aggestum) calling...

Alex specifically wanted to know whether there was evidence that these frogs had adapted to their environment. I won't spoil it for you, but encourage you to read his excellent paper:

Rebelo, A. & Measey, J. (in press) Locomotor performance constrained by morphology and habitat in a diverse clade of African frogs (Anura: Pyxicephalidae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/biolinnean/blz007 pdf

  Frogs  Lab

Why have a pet amphibian?

04 March 2019

Why do people want pet amphibians?

We know that the trade in amphibians increases year on year, but what is driving the demand? This might be a no-brainer for many of you reading this blog. Why wouldn't anyone want to have a pet amphibian? In a first attempt to dig into this intriguing question, we reasoned that people who upload their videos to YouTube might be sharing what they consider to be the most important qualities of their pets. After all, why else would you upload a video of your pet amphibian?

We were about to find out!

So the truth is that people upload videos of their amphibians for all sorts of reasons. That was our conclusion after watching more than 1000 videos. Who would have thought that 'unboxing' would be such a popular category? We found videos of people driving toads in lego cars, tying them to helium baloons and watching them float away, as well as preparing a Chinese giant salamander for the pot. But we also saw plenty of much loved amphibians in people's homes, and we were able to look at the behaviour that was being filmed to give us some insights to answer our question

To read more about what we found, why not read our paper? It's free to read online.

Measey, J., Basson, A., Rebelo, A., Nunes, A., Vimercati, G., Louw, M., & Mohanty, N.P. (2019) Why have a pet amphibian? Insights from YouTube. Frontiers in Ecology And Evolution  7: 52 doi:10.3389/fevo.2019.00052

  Frogs  Lab  Xenopus
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