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New frog in town?

17 March 2016

Invasion Biologists’ reactions to a new invasions of anuran (specifically a toad) in a biodiversity hotspot

Workshop participants were asked to produce their top 5 research projects following the discovery of a new invasive species (as is the case in Madagascar). During a workshop process, these projects were rationalised, and sub-topics identified through discussion. It is important to note that during this discussion, any projects which were not research orientated were removed. Following this discussion, participants were then asked to vote for their top three most favoured research topics, such that the top projects received 3 points, second 2 points and third 1 point. 


The results (Table 1) suggest that most people favoured projects that included survey work, population modelling and dispersal corridors and pathways. Although in 4th place, I'd suggest that the study of past invasions of this species are actually far more important. From these we should be able to learn whether or not an alien frog is likely to enter forests, and what the reaction of local predators has been over a prolonged period. 

There is a caveat to the population modelling that if toads are breeding in areas too small to confidently detect, this research may not be practical. However, in an ongoing local study, this approach has been relatively fast and very informative to eradication efforts. The emphasis on dispersal and pathways reflects the need to see whether toads are likely to used anthropogenically modified habitats (such as roads) to fast-track across the island. In addition, there is a need to get more information about potential re-invasions via the port.


Monitoring Xenopus gilli with OTS

15 February 2016

Organisation for Tropical Studies start monitoring Cape Clawed frogs at Cape Point

This year, the Organisation for Tropical Studies (OTS) are working with the MeaseyLab to help monitor Xenopus gilli  at the Cape of Good Hope. 

We had a lot of fun in the sun and water. 

  Frogs  Xenopus

Andre's thesis defence

10 February 2016

Andre finishes his third beer after defending his thesis. What more needs to be said?

  Lab  News

Removing African clawed frogs makes a difference

04 February 2016

Publicity for Andre's paper on platanna removal

Media obsessed by cannibalism

One has to wonder at the media obsession with cannibalism and the fact that it has nothing to do with the story. It was great that the reporter managed to get a picture of a frog. Shame that it has nothing to do with the story. Other than that, he did an ok job. 

  News  Xenopus

French frogs say "oui" to more genetic diversity

02 February 2016

How diverse are French populations of African clawed frogs?

Invasions are of populations and not species. This is a common trueism across many invasions of both plants and animals, and relates to the limitation of the original invading propagules. But sometimes, introductions are deliberate and the invasive population results from cultivated high genetic diversity. Knowing the origins of the invasion can be important in tackling the removal of the invasive population.

To date, every invasive population of Xenopus laevis investigated for genetic diversity has shown haplotypes consistent with their origin in the Western Cape, and more specifically from the areas collected for exports from around Jonkershoek. Now, a new study by De Busschere et al (2016) shows that this is also true for Portugal, but not for France. In fact, the diversity in France is so high that it rivals diversity seen in South Africa.

Unlike other invasions, the French population started from a CNRS breeding facility, so there may have been a deliberate intention to increase the genetic diversity of the breeding stock. Could this result in an increased hybrid vigor in the resulting invasive population? This question is currently being investigated in a collaboration funded by the European Union: INVAXEN.

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