“Creating complex habitats for restoration and reconciliation” – Lynette Loke, Peter Todd et al

A new paper out of Peter Todd’s lab: Loke, L. H., Ladle, R. J., Bouma, T. J., & Todd, P. A. (2015). Creating complex habitats for restoration and reconciliation. Ecological Engineering, 77, 307-313.

Simplification of natural habitats has become a major conservation challenge and there is a growing consensus that incorporating and enhancing habitat complexity is likely to be critical for future restoration efforts. Habitat complexity is often ascribed an important role in controlling species diversity, however, despite numerous empirical studies the exact mechanism(s) driving this association remains unclear. The lack of progress in untangling the relationship between complexity and diversity is partly attributable to the considerable ambiguity in the use of the term ‘complexity’. Here, we offer a new framework for conceptualizing ecological complexity, an essential prerequisite for the development of analytical methods for creating and comparing habitat complexity.

Our framework distinguishes between two fundamental forms of complexity: information-based complexity and systems-based complexity. Most complexity–diversity studies are concerned with informational complexity which can be measured in the field through a variety of metrics (e.g. fractal dimensions, rugosity, etc.), but these metrics cannot be used to re-construct three-dimensional complex habitats.

Drawing on our operational definition of informational complexity, it is possible to design habitats with different degrees of physical complexity. We argue that the ability to determine or modify the variables of complexity precisely has the potential to open up new lines of research in diversity theory and contribute to restoration and reconciliation by enabling environmental managers to rebuild complexity in anthropogenically- simplified habitats.

Four days in a Wilderness First Aid Course

I spent the first of four days in a wilderness first aid training course with colleagues from the Department of Biological Sciences (aka NUS Biodiversity Crew). This course brings everyone up to speed and prepares us for difficult situations in the field.

Ted, Amy, Morgany, Poh Moi, Frank, JC & Tommy were able to make it today and already this group makes me feel confident about student care on local or overseas field trips. Many of us have had some first aid training, either formally or from field situations. However, our exposure to incidents have been relatively low (thankfully so) hence the need for a refresher.

20150129 Widerness First Aid

It is excellent that we are working together and we are having highly interactive sessions with the trainers from ARIS Integrated Medical an experienced group who are glad to work with a field-savvy group.

Group scenarios have been productive and the many hands working together here has been efficient, communicative and builds an appreciation for each other. It took years for Tommy to secure the funding and get several of us together for four days, so this is a precious experience. Certainly the FTTAs, LOs and lecturers in a field module should work together again like this in future.

First published at Otterman speaks….

The future of evolutionary diversity in reef corals – Huang & Roy 2015

Ted Webb alerted us this morning with this message, “Danwei has published an important paper in Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, that looks at threats and future losses of evolutionary diversity across the world’s coral reefs. (PS great use of skull and crossbones on Fig 1!).”

Huang Danwei and Kaustuv Roy have published “The future of evolutionary diversity in reef corals” in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2014.0010

“One-third of the world’s reef-building corals are facing heightened extinction risk from climate change and other anthropogenic impacts. Previous studies have shown that such threats are not distributed randomly across the coral tree of life, and future extinctions have the potential to disproportionately reduce the phylogenetic diversity of this group on a global scale. However, the impact of such losses on a regional scale remains poorly known.

In this study, we use phylogenetic metrics in conjunction with geographical distributions of living reef coral species to model how extinctions are likely to affect evolutionary diversity across different ecoregions. Based on two measures—phylogenetic diversity and phylogenetic species variability—we highlight regions with the largest losses of evolutionary diversity and hence of potential conservation interest.

Notably, the projected loss of evolutionary diversity is relatively low in the most species-rich areas such as the Coral Triangle, while many regions with fewer species stand to lose much larger shares of their diversity. We also suggest that for complex ecosystems like coral reefs it is important to consider changes in phylogenetic species variability; areas with disproportionate declines in this measure should be of concern even if phylogenetic diversity is not as impacted.

These findings underscore the importance of integrating evolutionary history into conservation planning for safeguarding the future diversity of coral reefs.

Danwei and Roy 2015 Future of evol diversity in coral reefs pdf  page 2 of 11

Danwei and Roy 2015 Future of evol diversity in coral reefs pdf  page 5 of 11

Job: Field Assistant for Radio tracking civet project (deadline: 31 Jan 2015)


Field Assistant required for a radiotracking project with translocated civets
Januar – June 2015.

Part time or Full time field assistant; pay: $10/hour
Location: Central Catchment/MacRitchie


  • Physically fit, hiker, knowledge of trails and landscape at site
  • Orienteering ability,
  • Good hearing
  • Owns a smartphone or GPS
  • Preferably with access to car

Contact Dr. Christina Colon at christinacolon@hotmail.com
or call 8359-3747

Deadline 31 Jan 2015

Job: Intern/part-time student assistants for common palm civet research project (deadline: 20 Jan 2015)

Project description: The diet and ecological role of the common palm civet in Pulau Ubin.
An intern or part-time student assistant is required in the first half of 2015.

Common palm civet  FTK
Photo by Fung Tze Kwan

Job Scope

  1. Sorting of common palm civet scats and identification of diet items.
  2. Preservation and storage of processed samples.
  3. Data entry.
  4. Assistance in field work and logistics e.g. radio-tracking and camera trapping as required.

Applicant should be:

  1. Meticulous, responsible and careful with samples.
  2. Training will also be provided but experience in sorting is helpful.
  3. Self-motivated and able to work independently.
  4. Able to work on weekends, at night or overnight for the field component.
  5. Part-time student assistant applicants have to be able to commit at least two days (16 hours) a week.
  6. Intern applicants have to be able to commit to a 3 – 6 months period.
  7. Standard student assistant hourly rates apply.

To apply, please send a cover letter and CV to N. Sivasothi at sivasothi@nus.edu.sg by 20th January 2015.
Shortlisted applicants will be notified for the interview by end–January 2015.

Job: 24-month Project Manager (freshwater ecology; deadline: 25 Jan 2014)

Project Manager with Freshwater and Invasion Biology Laboratory

We are looking for a Full-time Research Fellow, or a Research Associate with relevant experience, to work in the Freshwater and Invasion Biology Laboratory for a 24 month period. Candidate with a PhD or MSc and prior experience in freshwater ecology and biology is preferred.

Under the direction of the principal investigators, primary tasks will include:

  • Field research in freshwater habitats involving fish, macro-invertebrate and plankton sampling
  • Laboratory based work involving sorting and processing of specimens and data collected during field work
  • Data analysis and technical reports/scientific paper writing
  • Project management including supervision of research assistants, liaising with relevant external agencies and collaborators, and project administration

Job requirements include:

  • Good organizational skills and excellent attention to detail is an essential component of this position
  • This person must be self-motivated and also be able to work in a collaborative, team-oriented environment
  • Possess leadership qualities
  • Responsible and a fast learner
  • Physically fit for extended periods of field work
  • A valid Singapore Class 3 driving license is highly desirable
  • Some weekend flexibility may be required
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office and Adobe applications
  • Good general knowledge of aquatic ecology and biodiversity
  • Background knowledge in quantitative assessment methods and use of statistical software (such as SAS, R, SPSS, Statistica or Primer)

This is a grant-funded position. Interested individuals may send your application that includes your CV and three recommendation letters with a cover letter to:

Assistant Professor Darren Yeo Chong Jinn
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore,
14, Science Drive 4, Singapore 117543
Email: dbsyeod@nus.edu.sg
For more information about our research, please visit the FIB page.

We regret that only shortlisted applicants will be contacted for interviews. Closing date for application is 25 January 2015.

Antonia Monteiro weighs in on the colour blue on NPR

Free of teaching (it’s Reading Week), David Bickford was surfing the net, perusing NPR and happy to see colleague Antonia Monteiro quoted in a piece about blue color in animals [“How Animals Hacked The Rainbow And Got Stumped On Blue,” by Rae Ellen Bichel. NPR, 12 Nov 2014].


“Everywhere you look, organisms have been inventing different solutions to creating the same color,” says Antonia Monteiro, who studies butterfly wings in Singapore.

Monteiro says a lot of animals use different materials to get the same effect. Butterfly wings are sheathed in reflective scales made of chitin, the same stuff that makes a crab’s shell hard. And a 2012 study found that some birds use bubble-laced keratin (the same stuff that human fingernails are made of) in the barbs of their feathers; it scatters the light from the feather in a way that happens to look blue to humans.

All that blue not pigmented! Head over to the NPR page.

How Animals Hacked The Rainbow And Got Stumped On Blue  Shots  Health News  NPR

Thanks for the alert, David!

From August 2014 on NPR, see also “Butterfly Shifts From Shabby To Chic With A Tweak Of The Scales“.