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How well do alien amphibian assessments match?

27 January 2017

How well do alien amphibian assessments match?

There are a growing number of impact classification schemes for invasive species. Here we use invasive amphibians to compare how scores match. See the paper in NeoBiota here.

How well do alien amphibian assessments match?

Classification of alien species’ impacts can aid policy making through evidence based listing and management recommendations. We highlight differences and a number of potential difficulties with two scoring tools, the Environmental Impact Classification of Alien Taxa (EICAT) and the Generic Impact Scoring System (GISS) using amphibians as a case study. Generally, GISS and EICAT assessments lead to very similar impact levels, but scores from the schemes are not equivalent. Small differences are attributable to discrepancies in the verbal descriptions for scores. Differences were found in several impact categories. While the issue of disease appears to be related to uncertainties in both schemes, hybridisation might be inflated in EICAT. We conclude that GISS scores cannot directly be translated into EICAT classifications, but they give very similar outcomes and the same literature base can be used for both schemes.

  Frogs  Lab  Xenopus

MeaseyLab Retreat - 2017

23 January 2017

Getting the year off to a stylish start with the MeaseyLab retreat at Bonamanzi & Mtenzini

We had an amazing time focussed around finding tree agamas (Acanthocercus atricollis) for Nick's project. The first week at Bonamanzi was a total failure with only 3 agamas seen after rain finally came (during the HAA conference). 

However, once we moved to Mtenzini there were lots of agamas to be had, and we developed a cruising style around the neighbourhood which netted us >20 animals in a couple of days. 

Note the presence of special guest star Dennis Rödder. Dennis joined us for the whole trip and we had a lotta fun. Also seen here are the HAA twins (Alex & Gio), Nyala braai (thanks to interrupting poachers at Bonamanzi) and Ma'Rake - of the golf course, Mtenzini.


Swim lab swim

21 January 2017

Synchronised swimming - much harder than it looks

There's a time and a place to try a new synchronised swimming routine. The time was a Wednesday afternoon, and the place was an empty pool in a Kwa-Zulu Natal resort. The chlorine level was exceptionally high, and it took great determination from the lab team to bring you the following YouTube extravaganza. 

OK, so it's not an everyday event that the lab tries a synchronised swimming routine. But when they do, it's worth a blog entry. 


Can functional responses unify invasion biology?

18 January 2017

You can't unify invasion ecology with functional responses

Do you remember the workshop back in November 2015? This meeting has now produced a series of publications in Biological Invasions:

Functional responses can unify invasion ecology

Functional responses can’t unify invasion ecology

Fictional responses from Vonesh et al.

Rather than unifying invasion biology, Dick et al.’s approach rests on subjective foundations

It's a great academic back and forth that we really hope you enjoy reading...

Becoming Dr Gio

18 January 2017

There's a multi-step process to becoming a Dr in South Africa. Gio submitted his thesis in mid-November 2016 and it was read by three examiners. Their reports were sent to the dean, but before the paperwork was complete Gio had to defend his thesis before a panel of luminaries. Of course, they were all very impressed. His thesis "Exploring the invasion of the guttural toad Sclerophrys gutturalis in Cape Town through a multidisciplinary approach" was co-supervised by Sarah Davies.

There wasn't much time to celebrate as we all flew off the next day to KZN. However, Gio managed to find time to stop by at the local supermarket to buy ingredients for a traditional dish.

Giovanni Vimercati wrote in September 2013 saying that: "I am strongly interested to study how an invasive species can colonize new territories, interact with ecosystem and adapt to a novel ecological context, especially focusing my attention on reproductive, life history and phenological traits . Moreover, I would like to investigate possible local adaptations and phenotypic plasticity and  integrate among them its physiological, behavioural and dispersal constraints through a mechanistic approach. In this way, utilizing environmental and geographical data of South Africa, this analysis may allow to describe the fundamental niche of the species and its potential of invasion." He arrived in Stellenbosch in February 2014 to do exactly this with guttural toads. Only 3 years later, Gio has already submitted his PhD thesis. It's been great having you in the MeaseyLab. We've enjoyed all your enthusiasm, ideas and tutilage in pasta cooking!

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