February 2021

X-ray micro-tomography used to study respiratory anatomy in live larvae

How respiratory structures vary with, or are constrained by, an animal’s environment is of great importance to see the differences in evolutionary development and for comparative physiology hypotheses. It is challenging to investigate the respiratory structures of insects because they are so small, therefore only a handful of species have been examined.

Read more here 

November 2020

The lesser of two weevils? How insect thermal traits can help to understand biocontrol success and failure. 

Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) is a widespread invasive species impacting a range of ecosystem services in South Africa, especially water quality and availability. To better control this aquatic weed, several biocontrol agents have been released – unfortunately with mixed success. Among several factors determining the success of biocontrol agents in controlling water hyacinth, the environmental match of the agent with the local environment is central.

Read more here

August 2019

Many animals won’t cope with climate change without access to ample drinking water

Climate change implies change in temperature and water, and both factors shape species’ tolerances to thermal stress. In our latest article, we show that lack of drinking water maximises differences in tolerance to high temperatures among populations of Iberian lizard species.

Climate change is a multidimensional phenomenon comprising temporal and spatial shifts in both temperature and precipitation (1). How we perceive climate change depends on whether we measure it as shift in (i) mean conditions (e.g., the mean air temperature or rainfall over a decade within a given territory), (ii) magnitude or frequency of extreme conditions (e.g., the frequency of floods or tornados or the number of days with temperatures or rainfall above or below a given threshold), or (iii) speed at which mean or extreme conditions change in space and/or time….. Read more here

December 2018

Pictured here are (from left) Dr Pia Addison, Dr Minette Karsten and Prof. John Terblanche from the Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology.

Belgian Grant for APE Lab Entomologists

Dr. Minette Karsten, Prof. John S. Terblanche and Dr. Pia Addison just received a prestigious grant from the Belgian Development Cooperation. This project, in collaboration with researchers from Belgium (Royal Museum for Central Africa), Mozambique (Eduardo Mondlane University) and Citrus Research International (South Africa) will run over five years (2019-2023) and aims to address a number of important questions for sustainable food production. More specifically, this project (DISPEST) will investigate the dispersal of fruit fly pests and use the resultant information to determine management units or areas that we can priorities and potentially manage together by using barriers to movement in the landscape. As part of the project a MSc and PhD student will be funded and a workshop on advanced morphological and molecular identification of African fruit fly (Tephritidae) pests will be hosted in our Department.

November 2018

Lab end of year drinks at Lanzerac celebrating a challenging year completed!

June 2018

Our recent paper in Scientific Reports by Chris Weldon and colleagues has been reported on in The Conversation.

Read the full article here 

March 2018

Congratulations to Dr. Welma Pieterse on receiving her PhD in fruit fly systematics, taxonomy and ecophysiology!

 March 2018

Cum Laude Congratulations to Sinead O’Toole and Erika Opperman on their completion and graduation of their Master’s degrees with well-deserved distinctions! Good luck to Sinead as she heads for the open water. Erika will be staying on at the APE lab as a PhD student working on landscape genetics of a major agricultural fruit pest, the notorious FCM!

February 2018

Welcome to the new postgraduate students of the APE Lab Henriek Bosua and Amy Collop, and also to our new international visitors and postdocs Marion Javal and Philipp Lehmann!

October 2017

John delivered his inaugural address entitled “Causes and consequences of insect physiological diversity” on 19th October at Stellenbosch University. Pictured here are Prof. Danie Brink (Dean of the Faculty of AgriSciences), John, Prof. Karen Esler (Head of Department), and Prof. Eugene Cloete (Vice-Rector Research and Innovation).

August 2017

A big good luck to Saskia Thomas who heads off to Germany to represent South Africa in the international climbing competition arena, before heading to 3+ months of fieldwork in Zambia!

July 2017

John attended the recent 16th international symposium on insect-plant relationships SIP2017 meeting held in Tours, France in July to give a keynote lecture on insect responses to climatic variability. It was a productive and stimulating visit, with several fascinating discussions with various folks on insect microclimates and climate change responses on plants! It was also a super opportunity to catch up with some old friends, but also to finally get to meet researchers whose work I read regularly and are producing superb papers, but have never actually met in person!

Read more about the symposium here. 

April 2017

Matt Hill’s recent paper was highlighted by the Centre for Invasion Biology:

Global insect invasions are difficult to predict from distribution models alone.

Non-native invasive insects have major impacts on ecosystem function, agricultural production and human health. To make better predictions of where such species may establish and invade, species distribution models (SDMs) are widely used tools to predict potential distributions and invasion extents across new geographical areas. – Read more here

December 2016

In collaboration with Prof. Susana Clusella-Trullas (Department Botany and Zoology, SU) and Prof. Marshall McCue (St Mary’s University, Texas, USA), John helped co-organize a one-day ‘Stable Isotopes in Invasion Biology’ workshop that was attended by 35 post-graduate students from several institutions across South Africa, hosted by the Centre for Invasion Biology.

“The group of enthusiastic participants who attended the “Stable Isotopes in Invasion Biology” workshop hosted by the CIB in December 2016. The workshop was led by the expertise of Prof. Marshall McCue (St. Mary’s University, Texas, USA) and organized by Prof. Susana Clusella Trullas (CIB and Department of Botany and Zoology) and Prof. John Terblanche.”

September 2016

ICE 2016 – talks and sessions by John, Maddie Barton, Leigh Boardman (now at UFL) and Minette Karsten, and a strong turnout of socially awkward entomologists!

August 2016

Leigh Boardman’s paper published in Scientific Reports

Cold tolerance is unaffected by oxygen availability despite changes in anaerobic metabolism – Read more here 

Aga Gudowska’s paper published in Journal of Experimental Biology

The closed spiracle phase of discontinuous gas exchange predicts diving duration in the grasshopper Paracinema tricolor. – Read more here 

Vernon Steyn’s paper published in Proceedings B

Dispersal propensity, but not flight performance, explains variation in dispersal behaviour. –  Read more here  

April 2016

Prof. John Terblanche hosted an international IAEA workshop at SU in April 2016 on methods and techniques for dormancy management of insects in his Applied Physiological Ecology Lab. Prof. Terblanche is actively involved in two separate IAEA-funded co-ordinated research programs (CRP) investigating novel approaches and methods for increased performance of laboratory reared insects for release in sterile insect programmes.

International researchers visiting the Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology who participated in the IAEA insect pest dormancy management workshop in April 2016, hosted by Prof. John Terblanche.

April 2016

In a major advance for the understanding of insect invasions, a special issue in the journal Biological Invasions was published in 2016  (Guest editors: postdoctoral fellow Matt Hill, together with Prof. Dave Richardson (C.I.B) , Prof. John Terblanche and  Prof. Susana Clusella-Trullas (Dept of Botany and Zoology). A collection of 13 articles from a diverse group of national and international scientists working across different aspects of entomological and biological invasions highlights what makes insect invasions unique and where future research efforts should be focused.

Read more here 

August 2015

Prof. John Terblanche successfully completed a Canada-Africa Research Exchange Grant with Prof. Phil Matthews at the University of British Columbia which examined how insect’s sense and respond to ambient atmospheric gases (CO2, O2) by means of respiratory chemoreceptors. The exchange culminated in producing an authorative review on the evolution of insect respiratory gas exchange published in Advances in Insect Physiology . Read more here

Older lab news

August 2014

Maddie’s first paper from her post-doc, a microclimate model for bollworm, has now been published in Austral Entomology. Click here for a link to the paper 

Elsje’s paper on developmental temperature impacts on adult water balance in Eldana has just been published in the Journal of Insect Physiology. Click here for a link to the paper

June 2014

Elsje Kleynhans’ paper on evolved variation of chill coma onset temperature among Eldana populations has just been published in the Journal of Evolutionary BiologyClick here for the link to the article 

March 2014

Leigh Boardman had  a paper published on heat shock proteins in sub-Antarctic marine invertebrates with Susana’s research group. – Read more here 

Matt Hill’s (slightly controversial) paper on Bactrocera invadens and niche overlap among Bactrocera species has just been published. The article is freely available here.

January 2014

Well done to Elsje Kleynhans for having two papers published this past week – one from her Master’s research on tsetse and environmental variability and the role of phenotypic plasticity and the other from her PhD research on Eldana stalk borers which examines host-plant effects on thermal tolerance.

December 2013

The APE and CLIME labs did a great weekend away at Landroskop Hut in early December 2013.

Congratulations to Dr Leigh Boardman for completing her PhD and to receiving a very prestigious NRF post-doctoral scholarship.

Congratulations (and welcome) to Vernon Steyn who joins the lab to work with Kate Mitchell and I on dispersal genetics of invasive fruit flies. Vernon also won double funding from the CIB and NRF for his project.

Congratulations to Dr Kate Mitchell on receiving a very prestigious Claude Leon Foundation scholarship to continue her research on dispersal and thermal tolerance in South Africa for another 2 years.

Congratulations to Dr Matt Hill for securing a prestigious CIB post-doc scholarship to re-focus his research more on invasions and insects.

We have had a lab member get married: Well done Ruben!