Biodiversity Day talk on alien invasives- twitter coverage by juanicths

Peter Ng was talking at Botanic Gardens in conjunction with International Day for Biodiversity and juanicths covered the talk which many others followed, trapped in their meetings or cubicle via twitter. She could not cover everything, of course, but some of the main points gave us an idea. If followers replied her, she could have raised questions on their behalf as well. Nice way to widen the reach of a talk!

I walked into the lab to find some of the ecolab denizens following her feed on twiter. Good going juanicths (who has since gone for lunch!)

See the archive to get an idea of her coverage! [Update – she has provided a chronological account on her blog]


Job opportunity: Education officer at Raffles Museum

I am highlighting this Ecotax post for prospective candidates:

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: otterman
Date: Thu, May 14, 2009 at 4:46 PM
Subject: Job vacancy at RMBR, NUS: Education and PR Officer (Poly/BSc/relevant – deadline: 15 Jun 2009)

Download the application form here.

Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (RMBR), Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore

Job Vacancy Advertisement: Education and Public Relations Officer

  1. RMBR designation: Education and Public Relations Officer
  2. Official NUS designation: Laboratory Technologist
  3. Salary: Consistent with qualifications and experience, as determined by the Office of Human Resources, NUS
  4. Qualifications: Polytechnic diploma, BSc, or BSc (Honours) in biology or related fields, and/or relevant experience in public relations and/or public education
  5. Contract: Yearly, until conferred permanence (retirement at 62 years of age)
  6. Main role: Handle public relations, education and outreach for the RMBR
  7. Specific duties:
    • To guide visitors and VIPs through the RMBR Public Gallery.
    • To host research visitors.
    • To assist in the installation of exhibits in the Public Gallery. (The Public Gallery is one major facility for public education.)
    • To be the RMBR representative for the Museum Roundtable.
    • Communication with the media (TV, radio, newspapers).
    • To update and provide new materials for the RMBR website.
    • Maintaining the museum’s Newsblog.
    • To take charge of the publication of RMBR publicity materials, e.g., brochure, annual report.
    • Recording the history of the museum to generate announcements or news items for the RMBR website, or for newspapers.
    • To track the publications outputs of RMBR staff and Research Associates (Biodiversity and Ecology academic staff of the Department of Biological Sciences).
    • To track the use of RMBR materials in research publications.
    • To manage the literature collection of the RMBR Library (arranging, maintaining and cataloguing papers, journals and books in the museum’s library)
    • In charge of the inventory of the RMBR merchandise and consignments.
    • Assist in administration matters of the RMBR.
    • To back up the RMBR secretary during leave periods.
  8. Applicants: are to send this form ( to Assoc. Prof. Hugh Tan, Deputy Director, Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research at
  9. Deadline: 15 Jun 2009

New book by Richard Corlett, “The Ecology of Tropical East Asia”

Richard’s new book is out (Publication date: 14 May 2009). Unfortunately it is an OUP book so is costly – US$61.23+ (paperpback) and US$126.07 on Amazon US, £28.45 (paperback) and £61.75 (hardback) on Amazon UK. Update: The Barnes & Noble price is cheaper – US$48.75.

Update (30 May 2009): Mail from Ng Bee Choo of Nature’s Niche:

“We have just received stock of this important ecology book. Retail Price is S$55.00 inclusive of GST.

Stock currently available at our shop at Mandai Road. It will be available at Sentosa Nature Shop next week.”

The OUP page describes the Ecology of Tropical East Asia as (amongst other things):

the first book to describe the terrestrial ecology of the entire East Asian tropics and subtropics, from southern China to western Indonesia. It deals with plants, animals, and the ecosystems they inhabit, as well as the diverse threats to their survival and the options for conservation.

This book provides the background knowledge of the region’s ecology needed by both specialists and non-specialists to put their own work into a broader context.

Congratulations Mr & Mrs Duc!

Joelle reports after returning form Hanoi, Vietnam:

“Ecolabbie Duc got hitched last weekend, six months after leaving Singapore for Hanoi.

Duc and Thu met each other in high school and have been together for 13 years! Congratulations Duc and Thu and we hope to see you both in Singapore soon!

The wedding was attended by Zeehan and Joelle who thoroughly enjoyed their first experience of a Vietnamese wedding!”

Koh Lian Pin back for Biofuels Asia 2009

Our alumni Koh Lian Pin is in town for teh international conference, “Biofuels the impact of oil palms on forest and climate.” Janice Lee amongst others, attended the conference and will be traveling to Switzerland soon to join his lab at ETH Zurich.

After the morning’s presentations, Straits Times journalist Grace Chua rushed back to work on a story. Here’s an excerpt from her breaking news story and you catch the full article in print tomorrow:

“Singaporean scientist Koh Lian Pin said that between 1990 and 2005, 55 to 59 per cent, or 0.8 million to 1.1 million hectares, of Malaysia’s new oil palm developments were cultivated on former forest lands – meaning that forests were being cut down for plantations.

The same was true of Indonesia, with over half of new oil palm plantations in the same period coming from forests.

Dr Koh, now a research fellow at Swiss technological institute ETH Zurich, presented his findings at a conference at the National University of Singapore (NUS) on Tuesday.

Dr Koh also surveyed the number of bird and butterfly species in oil palm estates, and noted that plantations generally held just a quarter of the species contained in primary forests.

He recommended measures to safeguard biodiversity, such as expanding plantations only into non-forested areas, and protecting primary and secondary forest.

At the conference, organised by Yale University, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and NUS, industry players, scientists and NGOs, discussed the impact of oil palm cultivation.”

See also: “Biofuel production to expand in the Tropics,” by Debby Ng. theasiamag, 12 May 2009.

Mon 11 May 2009: Mudskipper talks at SBWR

“If I were a mudskipper…”
– reports from recent research projects at Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve by members of the Systematics & Ecology Lab. This session was convened for park staff. It will be repeated at a more convenient time for the natural history community.
Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve, Mon 11 May 2009: 8.30am – 11.30am.


  • 0830-1015: Talk
  • 1030: Proceed to boardwalk for observation and suggestions about use of new information in guiding strategy (tide level: 1.9m rising to 2.5m).

Part I – “If I were a mudskipper: where should I go?” By Trina Chua, UROPS project, Jan – Mar 2009.

  • Introduction to two large carnivorous mudskippers, the Yellow-spotted mudskipper (Periophthalmus walailakae) and the Giant mudskipper (Periophthalmodon schlosseri)
  • Telling apart the two prominent mudskippers on the mangrove floor at the mangrove boardwalks in Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve.
  • Diurnal tidal migration.
  • Basal distribution and population at low tide versus high tide.

Part II – “If I were a mudskipper: what should I eat?” By Theresa Su, Hons project, Aug 2008 – Mar 2009.

  • The feeding regime and behaviour of the carnivorous mudskippers: do they prefer specific prey, when do they eat and what does this suggest about their ecology?
  • Theresa will include a show and tell
    • (i) 2 species of mudskippers ventrally dissected
    • (ii) specimens of prey items: red silt crab (Paracleistostoma sp.), common silt crab (Ilyogynis sp.), sipunculids, mangrove slugs, polychaete worms.

Part III – Relevance, stories we can tell visitors and Q&A. By Sivasothi et al.

  • The relevance of this information to our understanding of the mangroves and the park;
  • What we still do not know, what we suspect and future studies that will be offered.
  • How to apply this information during guided walks at the boardwalk.

Thu 14 May 2009: 10am – William Laurance on “Emerging threats and research challeges in the tropics”

“Emerging threats and research challenges in the tropics,”

By William F. Laurance
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa, Panama

Thursday, 14th May 2009: 10am
Lecture Theatre 20, Faculty of Science
Department of Biological Sciences, NUS

Host: Prof Richard Corlett


“I will summarize several new or emerging threats to tropical ecosystems and consider the research challenges these raise. The drivers of tropical forest destruction and key perils to biodiversity have changed over the past two decades. Industrial drivers of forest conversion such as logging, large-scale soy and cattle farming, oil-palm plantations, and oil and gas development have escalated in importance in recent decades, buoyed by rapid globalization, economic growth, and rising standards of living in developing nations. Biofuels are likely to grow rapidly as a driver of future forest destruction. Climate change has emerged as a potentially serious cause of change in the tropics, and some fauna, such as amphibians, are being decimated by emerging pathogens. In general, old-growth forests are vanishing rapidly and being replaced by fragmented, secondary, and logged forests.

These evolving threats are creating an urgent need for new research. For example, we know far too little about how well secondary and degraded habitats will sustain tropical biodiversity. Much is unknown about how climate change will affect tropical biota at high and low elevations, or how this will interact with ongoing land-use change. Further, we have only the most rudimentary idea of how climate change will affect tropical precipitation a crucial deficit given the acute sensitivity of tropical forests to drought and fire. Information on environmental synergisms is meager at best. Finally, we need to develop new conservation strategies to deal with the increasingly industrial drivers of deforestation. I will highlight these and other issues on the horizon of tropical conservation science.”

See also: Butler and Laurance, 2008. “New strategies for conserving tropical
.” TIEE.

12 May 2009: 5.30pm – 8.00pm: “Communicating conservation science online” with Rhett A. Butler, founder of

How to communicate conservation science effectively online?
An informal Q&A session with Rhett A. Butler, founder of

Tuesday, 12th May 2009: 5.30pm
DBS Conference Room, Block S3, Level 5,
Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science
National University of Singapore
See Map for directions.

Host: Janice Lee & N. Sivasothi

All are welcome. was founded nearly 10 years ago by Rhett A. Butler, who today is the chief editor and primary writer for the site. With more than one million unique visitors per month, is one of the world’s most popular environmental science and conservation news sites. The news and rainforests sections of the site are widely cited for information on tropical forests, conservation, and wildlife.

In this informal Q&A session, Rhett will share his experiences of managing and updating as well as answer any questions from the floor on how to communicate conservation science effectively using online tools such as blogs.

For more information, visit’s About page

New Diptera Book

We are pleased to announce that the book “Diptera Diversity: Status, Challenges and Tools” has been published. Prof Meier is one of three editors of this hotly-anticipated book for all dipterists.


This very attractive book not only comes complete with comprehensive information about Diptera biodiversity, it also includes gorgeous colour pictures and photos of flies, maps (and charts). It retails for €119/US$186 here.

Some of us may remember Dr. Patrick Grootaert from the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, a dolichopodid expert and regular collaborator with the NUS Biodiversity group. In this book, he authors a fascinating chapter on the diversity and taxonomic challenges of Oriental Diptera. He is currently here in Singapore to lay out the framework for the SMIP (Singapore Mangrove Insect Project) and to provide us with vast quantities of Belgian chocolate.

Incidentally, Prof Meier also coauthors 2 chapters with our biodiversity alumni, Gaurav G. Vaidya and Guanyang Zhang, who is currently at UC Riverside completing his PhD on the systematics of reduviids (assassin bugs).

Here’s a shoutout to the Heteropteran Systematics Lab @ UCR, current home of two ex-evolab denizens.