Subscribe to MeaseyLab Blog by Email

Andre's paper published

21 January 2016

Can we provide evidence that conservation measures are effective? 

This is the major question behind articles in the journal Conservation Evidence. Today, Andre de Villiers published a short contribution to Conservation Evidence which shows that work over the last 5 years to remove African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis) from an area they invaded in the Cape of Good Hope. Andre's article compares populations of the IUCN Endangered Cape platanna (Xenopus gilli) in an area near Kleinmond where there is no control of African clawed frogs. He found that when African clawed frogs were removed, the population of Cape platannas was healthier. In addition, he shows that regular monitoring of African clawed frogs is necessary to prevent invasion outbreaks, which are costly to remove.

  News  Xenopus

Debra graduates

16 December 2015

Congratulations to Debra Stark...

Who graduated with a higher distinction for her MSc work based on acoustic Spatially Explicit Capture Recapture (aSECR) on Arthroleptella rugosa. Debra assessed the population size of the entire species on Klein Swartberg - the only mountain where this species exists. We said farewell to Debra in September when she went back to UQ to write up her project. 

  Lab  News

Telling it how it is...

11 December 2015

Can you summarise your PhD using only the top 1000 used words?

The aim of our lab meeting today was to sum up our project topics using only the top 1000 words in the English language. Scientists are often accused of not being able to communicate with members of the public because of the complex language we use. This is a real problem as we need to be able to communicate with everyone (not just each other). Giovanni recently published a an article in FrogLog, but how well did he do in using simple language that everyone can understand?

Using a website (up-goer) we can now see which words we use are more difficult, and this can also guide us in which words we can use.

Inline images 1

In the image above, you can see the first paragraph of Giovanni's text (follow link to explore functionality) with each word in a colour showing how simple or complex it is. Green words are the 1000 most commonly used. Words change from green to brown as they move down the list of commonly used words. By clicking on a coloured word (on the website) you can see how common it is. For example, "notorious" is 12772 on their list of words, while "stomach" is 2122, and "frogs" is 10286. 

Here's my attempt at a description of what we do using the top 1000 words:

"People in our group study animals that have been moved to new places, often causing problems. We try to study what they do to other animals in the area. We hope to help understand how these animals can be managed. "
And here are a selection of contributions from lab members:

Alex Rebelo:

"I am looking at whether the body plan of frogs can be used to explain type of place that they live in. I am also trying to find out if body size, shape or number of young can explain the size of the area where these frogs are found. Many frogs are being lost because of the changes humans are making to the Earth and it is important to know what could have held frogs back in the past to make the best plans for the future."

Giovanni Vimercati:

"I study animals that live far from home. I am using complicated numbers to understand how these animals act and what they will do in the future. I would like to find how we can manage them in order to avoid that they become a problem for nature and people."

Ana Nunes:

"Putting new crayfish outside their usual areas is an important problem, because they cause serious problems to many other animals. Although there is no crayfish  in this part of the world, many from other places have been brought here. As such, there are now four different ones in this area, but people don't know where and how many they are, and how bad they are for the other animals that have always been here. In this study, we will look into where and how many these animals are in the study area and the problems that they cause to other animals, using both field work and a controlled approach. We believe this is  important to help coming up with plans to manage and control these animals." [Ana acknowledges that crayfish isn't in the top 1000 words - but you can't substitute a crayfish]


Mac's paper published in SAJSci

27 November 2015

Which way will Cape frogs jump when it gets hotter?

This week saw the publication of Mac's climate modelling paper where he determines the movement of the fynbos amphibian community in the face of global climate change. His paper shows convincingly that the rate of change for these amphibians is likely to be much larger over the next 50 years than it has been in the past 20 000 years.

Figure 1

Amphibians have been losing out in the Cape for 20 000 years mainly due to the rise in sea level and the loss of a lot of the Agulhus Bank (see also Schreiner et al 2013). However, future climate change will see the rate of loss accelerating. For more information, read the article: Mokhatla et al 2015.

  Lab  News

Giovanni walks away with all the prizes

22 November 2015

Giovanni steals the show

Giovanni Vimercati gave a talk entitled "Game of Toads: is winter coming?" and was awarded the CIB travel prize for the best PhD student presentation at the CIB Annual Research Meeting. Part of his presentation involved making an infographic which is shown below:

Not content with this, the next week he gave a longer version of the same talk to the Botany & Zoology Department at Stellenbosch University and won the Best PhD Presentation 2015. 

Well done, Gio!

  Lab  News  prizes
Creative Commons Licence
The MeaseyLab Blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.