Why Enoka cannot TA in Sem 1

Grad student Enoka Kudavidanage [link to her research profile page] is back in Sri Lanka to do her field work – until January 2010.

I forgot as I saw her in campus recently so when I saw her online, I pounced her to TA the new 2nd year undergraduate ecology module which has night work to observe bats.

She explained was in the midst of the field and remarked that she was surrounded by “plum leeches”, heh-heh. The rest of the conversation was a little surreal and I share an excerpt here:


Fri 31 Jul 2009: 2pm – Ben Godsall on “Preliminary insights into the behaviour of tree-dwelling crab, Selatium brockii”

“Preliminary insights into the behaviour of the mangrove tree-dwelling crab, Selatium brockii.”

By Ben Godsall
Imperial College, London
with Systematics & Ecology Lab, DBS, NUS.

Friday, 31 Jul 2009: 2pm

Venue: Seminar Room 2
Block S2, Level 4,
Department of Biological Sciences,
National University of Singapore.

Host: N. Sivasothi

Abstract – The mangrove tree-dwelling crab has not received much attention beyond its description. Most people have never heard of it, even those who live with it on their shores. S. brockii lives on trees in the sandbank areas of the Singapore mangroves, feeding off algae at night and hiding during the day.

The current study has examined the contest behaviour of Selatium on the vertical axis, contrary to common competition experiments performed on flat ground. The preliminary results are presented along with ideas for future research projects and the need for conservation efforts at Mandai mangroves.

Marcus’ Ubin’s medium-sized mammal talk well-delivered

Marcus’ talk at Singapore Botanic Gardens went off well. He was well drilled after an earlier presentation in Pulau Ubin on Wednesday with NParks staff. Since he gets better with each performance, encore performances have been suggested for NUS and at Wildlife Reserves Singapore!

But this one will remain especially sweet – mum was in the front row and many of his survey kakis from the Vertebrate Study Group and NParks were there.

Early birds

Back Row

The rest of last year’s Ecolab students under my supervision, Theresa and Trina, delivered their mudskipper talks at Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve in May. This resumes a tradition that began in 2004 with Fiona Hong and Teo Yen Ling.

Tue 28 Jul 2009: 2pm – Trevor Caughlin on “Long and short distance seed dispersal in Huai Kha Khaeng”

Biodiversity & Ecology Journal Club, NUS DBS

All are welcome!

“Contrasting the advantages of long and short distance seed dispersal for tree populations at the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary.”

By Trevor Caughlin
Doctoral candidate, University of Florida.

Date: Tue 28 July 2009: 2pm
Venue: SR2 (S2 Level 4-10)

Host: Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz,
Terrestrial Ecology Lab

Abstract – The Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary in western Thailand is notable for having intact animal populations and a dynamic mosaic of forest types from evergreen to dry deciduous dipterocarp.

My research examines how ingestion by large wide-ranging animals, such as civets, affects tree populations in this landscape. Experiments quantifying seed fate show that the advantage of frugivory for three trees in the family Annonaceae is likely to be related to seed movement, rather than gut passage or deposition in dung. However, the benefits of movement for seed fate and ultimately tree populations are likely to be different at different distances from conspecific tree populations.

About the speaker – Born and grown in the United States, Trevor Caughlin’s fascination with tropical fruits began in 6th grade, when he conducted his first germination experiments with the seeds of mango and papaya. Since then, Trevor has been involved in various projects that have taken him to study tropical ecology around the world.

At present Trevor is studying how seed dispersal structures tree populations in the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, central Thailand. This study is part of his PhD program at the University of Florida under the supervision of Professor Doug Levey, an eminent figure in tropical ecology and plant-animal interactions. He is also involved in research on the ecology of figs and seed-dispersing animals in South Florida.

Ben makes a habit of being miserable

Ben Godsall, the famous mangrove whipray victim, has a habit of appearing miserable on videos. Here he is, sitting on a plastic sofa in the middle of London Zoo. He looks distressed for about 4 minutes then goes on and on about Asian fauna of polluting the Thames!

The real story was the absence of a crowd except for a few maintenance men who were staring and laughing as they soldiered on for conservation. Well done lads.

Outpouring of sympathy for Ben

Ben Godsall, our visiting student at Ecolab, recently suffered a traumatic injury that had him flee the mangrove in great haste, accompanied by some very shocked field researchers.

Much of this was caught on video and was circulated widely in the natural history community to great consternation.

Brits too are a sympathetic lot and Ben’s friends back home expressed great sympathy for his plight. Although anonymous, Ben says he knows who these three are and promises to respond in kind at the earliest opportunity.

Mon 20 Jul 2009: 5.00pm – Stuart Pimm on “Saving Biodiversity”

The Biodiversity and Ecology Journal Club invites you to:

“Saving Biodiversity”

A seminar by

Professor Stuart L. Pimm
Doris Duke Professor of Conservation Ecology
Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
Duke University

Monday, 20th July 2009: 5:00pm – 6:00pm
Venue: DBS Conference Room, Blk S3 Level 5 (Map)
Host: Dr. Navjot Sodhi

About the speaker:
Stuart Pimm became a conservation biologist watching species become extinct in Hawai’i in the 1970s. That experience lead to his commitment to study the scientific issues behind the global loss of biological diversity. Pimm has written over 200 scientific papers including three review articles in Nature and Science and four books including “The Balance of Nature?” and “The World According to Pimm: a scientist audits the Earth”.

His research covers the reasons why species become extinct, how fast they do so, the global patterns of habitat loss and species extinction, the role of introduced species in causing extinction and, importantly, the management consequences of this research. His commitment to the interface between science and policy has lead to his testimony in the US government to both House and Senate Committees on the re-authorization of the Endangered Species Act.

His current work includes studies of endangered species and ecosystem restoration in the Florida Everglades, and setting priorities for protected areas in the Atlantic Coast forest of Brazil (one of the world’s “hotspots” for threatened species. His awards include a Pew Scholarship for Conservation and the Environment (in 1993) and an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellowship (in 1999). The Institute of Scientific Information recognized him in 2002 as being one of the world’s most highly cited scientists. In 2004, Pimm was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

More information on his research on species preservation and conservation can be found at thepimmgroup.org

NEW Scholar, Old Photo

NEW Scholar, Low E-wen

Photo credit: MEWR

Low E-wen, the guardian of the water you drink.

This photo (widely circulated to undergraduates to hawk the NEW scholarship), she claims, was taken “a long time ago – before her wedding” ca. 2006.

These days, the proud mother of Zac can be spotted with red streaks in her hair and wolfing down ice-cream straight from the tub.