LSM4263 Field Studies in Biodiversity is open for registration

Registration is open for LSM4263 – Field Studies in Biodiversity from 19th March 2010 to 30th May 2010.

This 4MC module will be conducted in Semester IV of AY2009-10 and includes a field course at Pulau Tioman, Malaysia. The detailed timetable will be announced later but note that it will run from 28 June 2010 onwards.

There is a limit on the class-size for this module. Preference is given to students with Biodiversity (LSM1103) and Ecology (LSM2251/LSM3251).

To apply, students must be:

  • continuing into their Honours year in AY2010/11,
  • concentrating in Biology and
  • possess a CAP of 3.5 or above.

To register, please fill in the form here:

The list of successful applicants will be announced after the Semester II exam results are released.

With best wishes,
Life Sciences Undergraduate Program Committee


Mon 05 Apr 2010: 4pm – Benoît Dayrat on the biodiversity and evolution of gastropods

“From Alpha-Taxonomy to Mitogenomics: Biodiversity and Evolution of Gastropods”

Benoît Dayrat
School of Natural Sciences,
University of California at Merced,
California, United States of America

Monday, 05 April 2010: 4.00pm
DBS Conference Room, Block S3 Level 5
See map:

About the author – Benoît Dayrat is an assistant professor at the University of California at Merced. He received his MS at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France, and PhD at the University of Paris. His PhD focused on the Evolution and Systematics of gastropods.

Since his post-doctoral research (sea slug taxonomy), he has also been interested in the empirical and theoretical research in biodiversity and taxonomy. In March 2010, he published a 400-page long monograph on the taxonomy of discodorid nudibranch gastropods (sea slugs).

Benoît Dayrat also has authored several contributions in history of science including a book on the history of botany in France, “Les Botanistes Et La Flore De France – Trois Siècles De Découvertes”.

About the talk – I will present the work that we do in my lab focusing on the evolution and systematics of pulmonate gastropods, more specifically three clades of marine pulmonates: Onchidiidae, Ellobiidae, and Siphonariidae, all of which are represented by several marine (intertidal) species in Singapore.

Our research focuses on several taxonomic levels: we are interested in using complete mitochondrial genomes and other molecular data sets to study higher relationships among and within basal pulmonates; at the species level, we use combined molecular and morphological data to understand better the species diversity.

Pulmonate gastropods are also used as a case study to address questions of broader interest such as macro-evolutionary transitions from aquatic to terrestrial habitats, as well as questions in theory of nomenclature and taxonomy.

Fri 16 Apr 2010: 5.00pm, An Evening of Biodiversity, “Zoological Explorations in Singapore”

Four of our students will be speaking in this public talk, two current honours students, one former and one graduate student. I’m looking forward to this. A day after the announcement, 80 people are signed up already and I am certainly looking forward to the opportunity to meetup with various people in the community – do join us there!

EveBioD I poster

Job opportunity: RA @ Marine Biology Lab

Research Assistant opportunity at the Marine Biology Laboratory, Department of Biological Sciences, NUS.

We are seeking a Research Assistant to work on a number of projects being conducted by the Marine Biology Laboratory, NUS. These include studies of coral reefs, seagrass beds, seawalls, and giant clams. The candidate should have a degree (or equivalent) in biology or a related subject and be able to work long hours in the field. Experience of ecological sampling protocols, fabrication of experimental set-ups, statistics and statistical software, first aid, and science writing would be advantageous.

A driving license (manual) and SCUBA diving certificate would also benefit the applicant. The post is for approximately 12 months, commencing May or June, 2010. Interested candidates are invited to send their CV to Dr Peter Todd at

Fri 19 Mar 2010: 4pm @ NUS DBS LT20 – Peter Narins on “A Physio-ethological Approach to Amphibian Communication”

“Adventures of an Expeditionary Biologist:
A Physio-ethological Approach to Amphibian Communication”

by Peter Narins,
Departments of Integrative Biology and Physiology,
and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology,
Center for the Advanced Study of Behavior, UCLA.

Friday, 19th March 2010: 4.00pm
Lecture Theatre 20


Host: David Bickford

“Animal communication occurs when a signal generated by one individual is transmitted through an appropriate channel and results in a behavioral change in a second individual. We have explored specific morphological, physiological and behavioral adaptations in a wide variety of taxa that appear to have evolved specifically to tailor and sculpt intraspecific communication systems.

In this lecture, I will review some of these adaptational studies in amphibians, including:
(1) Cross-modal integration as the basis for understanding agonistic behavior in territorial dart- poison frogs, Allobates femoralis. We used an electromechanical model frog (robot) to present territorial males with visual and auditory cues separated by experimentally-introduced temporal delays or spatial disparities to probe temporal and spatial integration in this animal. Our results demonstrate both that temporal and spatial integration may be reliably estimated in a freely-behaving animal in its natural habitat, and that we can use aggressive behavior in this species as an index of cross-modal integration in the field.

(2) The second example concerns two distantly related organisms: the concave-eared torrent frog (Odorrana tormota), calling near fast-flowing mountain streams of Anhui Province, Central China, and the endemic Bornean frog, Huia cavitympanum, living in a very similar riverine habitat in Sarawak, Malaysia. In addition to the high-pitched audible components, these species’ calls contain previously unreported ultrasonic harmonics. This extraordinary upward extension into the ultrasonic range of both the harmonic content of the advertisement calls and the frogs’ hearing sensitivity is likely to have coevolved in response to the intense, predominately low- frequency ambient noise from local streams.

These two case studies provide evidence that a physio-ethological approach, determining the physiological mechanisms underlying natural behavior, can be a fruitful avenue for elucidating the selective forces acting on the evolution of animal communication systems.”

Tue 23 Mar 2010 @ NUS DBS SR1: 4.00pm – Paul Sweet on ” Surveying the Biodiversity of Vietnam”  on

“Surveying the Biodiversity of Vietnam”

Paul Sweet
Collection Manager
Ornithology Department
American Museum of Natural History

Tuesday 23rd March 2010: 4.00pm – 5.00pm
NUS DBS Seminar Room 1
Block S2, Level 4

Wang Luan Keng
Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research

About the speaker – Paul Sweet has been a birder for as long as he can remember. After graduating from Liverpool University with a degree in Zoology he spent a few years birdwatching aroound the world. In 1990, he washed up at NUS where he discovered the Raffles Museum which sparked a new interest in bird collections.

A year later he joined the staff of the Ornithology Department of the American Museum of Natural History in New York and is now the Collection Manager of the largest collection of 850,000 bird specimens in the world.

About the talk – In 1999 and 2000 Paul participated in multi-taxon inventories of two highland sites in Vietnam. He will talk about the reasons for these expeditions, the logistics and the results.