Biodiversity and REDD at Copenhagen (Current Biology)

Navjot Sodhi says,

“Here is our recent essay that is written so that biodiversity is not forgotten during UN’s Climate Change meeting in Copenhagen next month. [Link to article] German delegation has already adopted the paper. One of the coauthors, Tom Lovejoy, will be addressing UN’s General Assembly next year and will bring some of the issues to the world leaders.

There is quite a bit coverage in this week’s Nature on biodiversity. Exciting!

Best wishes,


Excerpt from Current Biology, 19(21): “Biodiversity and REDD at Copenhagen” (2009):

“The Copenhagen agreement needs to reach political agreement on swift and deep reductions of greenhouse gases. Nevertheless, it need not neglect biodiversity and other benefits. This can be achieved by four main actions:

  1. First, rules to conserve biodiversity should be included in the text of the Copenhagen Agreement. Biodiversity conservation should not be assumed to be an automatic ‘co-benefit’. We recommend that national implementation standards for REDD include biodiversity-inclusive environmental impact assessments. …
  2. Second, the UNFCCC’s Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) should ask the IPCC to explicitly include assessment of the biodiversity and ecosystem service impacts of mitigation alternatives in all future reports of Working Group III. Moreover, they should convene a joint working group of conservation biologists and ‘carbon ecologists’ to produce a Technical Paper describing a feasible method for optimal co-management of carbon and biodiversity ecosystem services.
  3. Third, the Parties to the UNFCCC should invite the Parties to the CBD to consent to make cooperation on the biodiversity impacts of climate-change mitigation a priority item in their joint work programme.
  4. Fourth, the SBSTA should also ask the IPCC to report any evidence of transnational leakage. If it occurs on the scale that some modelling suggests, it would undercut the carbon as well as the biodiversity benefits of REDD. …
  5. Finally, while we want REDD to “do no harm” to biodiversity and want to maximize the positive biodiversity impacts of REDD policies, we do not expect this single mechanism to fully address all tropical biodiversity funding priorities. The considerable amount of private conservation funding could be redirected and focused on forests of high biodiversity value that would not otherwise be eligible for REDD funding.

Link to article


NUS Instant Messaging on desktop or browser

This is a useful tool for consultation since both staff and students can use their existing NUS userid and passwords and function within a closed network without spam adverts wasting your time.

You can download and install the desktop client on Windows (follow instructions here) or Mac (download Messenger 7.0.2) or simply use the Web Messenger from a browser window –!

I can abandon my student consultation account next semester and happily switch to this.

Details at:

Job offer: Full-time TA position in Biodiversity & Ecology


The Department of Biological Sciences is inviting applications for the post of Full-Time Teaching Assistant (FTTA) in Life Sciences undergraduate courses, in the field of Biodiversity and Ecology.

Candidates should preferably possess an Honours Degree but exceptions may be made for degree holders with relevant expertise and industrial experience.

The FTTA will be working as a team of professors and laboratory officers to achieve holistic goals for student education in NUS. The FTTA must be reasonably competent with data management and administration, comfortably manage and consult peers, be understanding of student issues and have a passion for teaching.

The specific duties of the FTTA include:

  • overseeing modules in biodiversity, ecology and animal behaviour,
  • recruiting, managing and training part-time TAs,
  • overseeing the scheduling of field trips and laboratory practical sessions,
  • mounting and marking of continual assessements,
  • student mark management and
  • handling student queries.

The appointment will commence in Janary 2010. It is for a 1-year contract but is renewable based on performance.

Interested candidates are invited to apply with cover letter and detailed curriculum vitae, together with letters from three referees by 6th December 2009 to:
Lim Miah Kyan (Mr.)
Executive, Life Sciences Undergraduate Program Committee
C/O Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore
Block S3 Level 5, 14 Science Drive 4, Singapore 117543

“Conserving Moving Targets”

Conserving Moving Targets: How to Deal with Dynamic Species and Landscapes?

by Peter Leimgruber

Monday, 23rd Nov 2009
Time : 1.30pm to 3.30pm
Venue : S2-04-11 (Seminar Room 1) Map –

Host : Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz,
Terrestrial Ecology Lab

About the talk – Traditional conservation strategies rely heavily on protected area approaches that attempt to conserve species and their habitat within a network of protected spaces. Such strategies are necessarily static in space and time and may have severe limitations if the target species have large area requirements or are extremely mobile.

Additionally, protected areas may not capture well the spatio-temporal variation in habitats and landscapes unless they are very large. Using Asian elephants Elephas maximus and Mongolian gazelles Procapra gutturosa as examples, this talk is intended to describe the special conservation challenges posed by dynamic species and habitats and why landscape-level conservation is required well beyond the borders of protected areas.

About the speaker – Dr. Peter Leimgruber is the Director of the Conservation GIS Laboratory at the Conservation Ecology Center, Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park (NZP), USA. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma, and his Master’s degree from the Christian-Albrechts-Universität in Germany. Dr. Leimgruber’s research focuses on the application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and satellite tracking techniques to the conservation and management of endangered charismatic fauna.

His team uses satellite imagery, GIS, and satellite radio collars to (a) map remaining habitats for endangered species, (b) remotely track the movements of these species and (c) develop conservation management strategies for these species in the wild. Research projects at the lab address a wide range of charismatic species, including giant panda, Asian elephant, Burmese brow-antlered deer, and Mongolian gazelles.

Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) by Marvin Gaye

“Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” was the second single from Marvin Gaye’s 1971 album, What’s Going On.


“Oh, mercy mercy me
Oh, things ain’t what they used to be
No, no
Where did all the blue skies go?
Poison is the wind that blows
From the north and south and east

Oh, mercy mercy me
Oh, things ain’t what they used to be
No, no
Oil wasted on the oceans and upon our seas
Fish full of mercury

Oh, mercy mercy me
Oh, things ain’t what they used to be
No, no
Radiation underground and in the sky
Animals and birds who live nearby are dying

Oh, mercy mercy me
Oh, things ain’t what they used to be
What about this overcrowded land?
How much more abuse from man can you stand?

The Straits Times: Peter Ng and the Dodo

“Crab expert leads charge on climate: Prof Peter Ng and the Dodo,” by Chang Ai-Lien. The Straits Times, 07 Nov 2009 – link, pdf. Peter Ng’s mission is to build bridges between specialists in diverse disciplines.

PROFESSOR Peter Ng’s idea of heaven is to don his rubber booties and wade knee-deep in muddy swamps, trawling through the muck for new crab species.

Former students fondly remember a host of different crustaceans he kept as pets, including a huge coconut crab so strong that it broke out of its wire cage and probably ended up in someone’s cooking pot.
But these days, the internationally acknowledged crustacean expert is spending more time on dry land.

As a member of a new National University of Singapore (NUS) task force on environmental sustainability research, his first mission is to help build bridges between experts from diverse disciplines such as engineering, law, science and economics.

Only then is there any hope of dealing with complex environmental issues such as climate change, he says.

‘We need all players on board to strike a balance. Each pillar is strong as a single discipline, but environmental issues are multi-faceted and we need a big picture approach,’ says Prof Ng, 49, who is with the university’s biological sciences department, ‘so the biologists and environmental scientists can study the impact on nature and biodiversity, and the economists and lawyers can formulate policies that will strike a balance between sustainability and economic development.’

NUS president Tan Chorh Chuan announced last week that a research cluster on environmental sustainability had been formed to develop solutions for problems such as pollution, the fuel crunch and global warming.

NUS intends to take the lead regionally in tackling such issues. Even its upcoming NUS University Town campus in Kent Ridge is being planned ‘green’, with sustainability at the heart of its design.

Continue reading

Mousedeer and Giant Clam articles in Nature Watch (Hons 2008/9)

Neo Mei Lin (Marine Lab) and Marcus Chua (Systematics & Ecology Lab) have written about their study subjects – giant clams and mousedeer – in the latest issue of Nature Watch 17(2), Apr-Jun (2009).

The magazine, published by the NatureSociety (Singapore) [NSS], just came in the mail today, after great anticipation and it’s lovely reading with lots of colourful pictures. Celine Low, a member of NSS’ Vertebrate Study Group who volunteered with the mousedeer surveys is the lead author on the article.

Well done Mei Lin and Marcus!