Undergrad temp job offer: Identifying macroinvertebrates w/Freshwater Biomonitoring Project, Aug-Dec 2010

Student Assistant Positions, Aug-Dec 2010

The NUS Freshwater Biomonitoring Project is seeking Student Assistant applicants to assist with sorting and identification of macroinvertebrates.

The project aims to assess the health of Singapore’s freshwaters using benthic macroinvertebrates which are are important indicators of water quality. Their presence or absence reveal important long term and short term changes in water bodies.

Students will have an excellent opportunity to have a first-hand glimpse of the local aquatic fauna of our waterways and receive ‘on the job’ training in techniques for identifying and classifying macroinvertebrates.

Student applicants should have a keen interest in nature and be able to commit at least 2 x 3-hour time slots a week during this period. Standard student hourly wages apply.
Previous work experience is preferred.

Interested students should submit a CV with a brief description of themselves and their interests to Adam Quek at dbsqrf@nus.edu.sg by 31 August 2010.


Biodiversity Crew @ International Coastal Cleanup Singapore – registration for Pandan mangrove

ICCS Pandan mangroves cleanup

Pandan mangroves is a remnant strip mangrove in the south-west of Singapore. As it is not looked after, there is a trash build up that is detrimental to the site. The Raffles Museum Toddycats, Biodiversity Crew @ NUS and Wildlife Reserve Singapore are conducting a cleanup for the third year under the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore. This year we will be joined by volunteers from Oil Spill Response and Black & Veatch (SEA) Pte Ltd.

The deeper parts of the inlet is a tough and dirty site to tackle, with no shelters or toilets but soft mud, lots of mosquitoes in tide pools and some snakes instead! We will work rain or shine and are restricting numbers to reduce impact, so there aqre only 20 places for us.

This cleanup is not for the faint-hearted but the Biodiversity Crew are definitely up for the task and are invited to sign up at here:

Saturday, 11th September 2010: 7.20am – 11.30am
International Coastal Cleanup Singapore:
Pandan Mangroves

Register at: http://tinyurl.com/iccspandan2010

Photo by Kelly Ong


  • 0710 – bus pick up at NUS Science Drive 1
  • 0720 – bus pick-up from the bus-stop opposite Dover MRT in the direction of Clementi (map)
  • 0800 – reach Pandan mangroves bus stop; distribute into sub-groups, apply insect repellent, collect gloves, data cards and trash bags.
  • 0810 – Safety Briefing, identification of the Trash Weighing Point (TWP), wet weather plan (carry on unless lightning threat)
  • 0820 – Cleanup begins.
  • 0845 – Loading teams start moving trash to the TWP
  • 1000 – clean-up ends, data collation beings, weighing completed while participants evaluate the situation at Pandan.
  • 1015 – participants clean themselves up – note no washing point, so bring a bottle of tap water and a change of footwear.
  • 1045 – Pack dirty gloves to bring back wash, dry and return.
  • 1100 – Bus returns to Clementi and then NUS.

What we will provide:

  1. Transport to site.
  2. Gloves.
  3. Trash bags.
  4. Weighing scales.

What you should bring:

  1. Booties or covered shoes with hard soles.
  2. Water bottle (at least one litre of water).
  3. A snack to munch on after the cleanup, especially if you didn’t have time for breakfast!
  4. Hat.
  5. Insect repellent
  6. Raincoat/ponco (we’ll carry on working in the rain)
  7. Towel in a bag – to wipe off any sand and mud off you.
  8. A light pair of long pants will help protect your legs from insect bites if you tend to get bitten, as well as from the debris. If you are vulnerable to bites, wear long sleeves as well!
  9. A suggestion – dry fit clothes are suitable. If you prefer cotton, a change of t-shirt will come in handy after a sweaty workout.

Registered participants can meet us at either

  1. the NUS bus stop outside Science Drive 1 (7.10am; meet Xiuling) or
  2. Dover MRT Station bus stop on side of Singapore Polytechnic (heading west) (7.20am; meet Kelly Ong).
7.10am Pick Up Point – Meet Ouyang Xiuling
Pandan mangrove cleanup - NUS pickup point

7.20am Pick up Point – Meet Kelly Ong.

Cleanup location concentration

LZB features ex-hons Lynette Loke’s project on artificial substrate in marine environments

Lynette Loke, 2009/10 honours student with Peter Todd in Marine Biology Lab and now a Research Assistant appears in Lianhe Zaobao on 1st August 2010. The article apparently talks about her work on creating artificial substrates for enhancing biodiversity on Singapore’s seawalls.

Lynette and her mini-construction site from Oct 2009

A translated abstract would certainly be welcome! If you can do it, please email me at sivasothi@gmail.com

See also: “Designing innovative coastal protection using ecosystem-based approaches,” by Peter Todd. Hantu Blog, 24 Nov 2009.

Hantu Island an experimental site for costal protection design | Pulau Hantu

The Pimm Group lists “The Biodiversity Crew @ NUS” in their “best biodiversity blogs”

I had a pleasant surprise this morning when Ria Tan of WildSingapore emailed to say, ”

The criteria:

  • Adherence to the principle and philosophy of blogging (an independent, opinionated, non-corporate individual voice).
  • Overall relevance and focus on biodiversity.
  • Design, scope and general appeal.

This blog is in constant danger of descending in to a seminar and job notice board – useful things for sure, but it’s nice to know that The Pimm Group at least feel it has contributed to raising awareness about biodiversity. Pretty encouraging since they list sites like mongabay! I hope this encourages posts from the various labs.

The various speakers whom we have been fortunate to host have helped as their talk abstracts are informative. Thus the grad students facilitating the BEJC have contributed as well.

The social and personal news is always appreciated and is not only helpful to contributing a softer feel but also a way for our overseas students to keep in touch.

Happy blogging!

Ria Tan blogged this – see the IYB2010 Singapore blog.

Conference Report: The 2010 Meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation

The Biodiversity Crew had a strong presence at the recent international meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC), the society which publishes the journal Biotropica.  Themed “Tropical biodiversity: surviving the food, energy and climate crisis”, the conference was held on July 19-23 in the Sanur Beach Hotel in Bali, Indonesia (the venue may explain why the many attendees from DBS!).

This was the first time that the annual meeting was held in Southeast Asia and it was a huge and successful event, with over 800 participants from 60 countries, and six parallel sessions of talks.  Before and after the course there were various workshops on scientific paper writing and experimental design and analysis, which some of the NUS crew attended. Even the Vice-President of Indonesia dropped in and gave a speech:

The Vice-President of Indonesia gives a speech

Here is the run-down of all the participants from DBS and their presentations:


Dr. Navjot Sodhi – “Conservation knowledge for all” symposium organizer

Dr. Richard Corlett  – Prospects for the Long-term Survival of Tropical Forest Biodiversity in Conversion Landscapes

Dr. Edward Webb – “Ecology and conservation of mangrove ecosystems along changing coastlines in Asia” symposium organizer

Dr. David Bickford – Impacts of Climate Change on the Amphibians and Reptiles of Southeast Asia


Dr. Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz – Asian Tapirs are no Elephants when it Comes to Seed Dispersal

Dr. Jennifer Sheridan – Shrinking Futures: Climate Change Effects on Body Size

Dr. Dan Friess – Large-scale Threats and Mangrove Dynamics in SE Asia

Dr. Mary Rose Posa – Biodiversity and Conservation of Tropical Peat Swamp Forests

Graduate Students

Lainie Qie – Dung Beetles on Small Islands are not Limited by Food Availability

Brett Scheffers – Global Biodiversity of Canopy Birds, Mammals, and Amphibians

Nanthinee Jeevanandam – The Phenology of Ficus grossularioides in Singapore

Alison Wee – Gene Flow of Avicennia alba and Bruguiera gymnorrhiza in a Fragmented Landscape

Daniel Ng – A pH/Temperature Synergism in Amphibians

Sheila Poo – Parental Care of Amphibians in Southeast Asia

Yan Chong Kwek – Extending Red List Assessments from a Herbarium Database

Enoka Kudavidanage

Grace Blackham

Undergraduate students

Anne Devan-Song – Evaluating the Impact of Reticulated Python Predation on the Fauna of Singapore

Yea Tian Teo – A Habitat Enrichment Project to Encourage Breeding of Kalophrynus pleurostigma in Singapore

Some of the BioD crew at the closing banquet

The Environmental Leadership Training Initiative (ELTI) joint initiative of  Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, which is based at DBS, also organized a symposium called “REDD’s Role in the Conservation of Tropical Biodiversity”.

There were also quite a few familiar faces: alumni who are pursuing their studies and careers in other pastures, but still doing great conservation research:


Lian Pin Koh – Conservation in Human- modified Landscapes: Sidestepping the Tradeoffs of Oil Palm Expansion

Reuben Clements – ‘Killer Roads’ Threatening Endangered Mammals in Southeast Asia

Giam Xingli – Native Latitudinal Range, and Growth Habit Predict Progression Through the Plant Invasion Continuum on a Tropical Island

Norman Lim –  Habitat Preference of The Sunda Colugo (Galeopterus variegatus) in Tropical Forests of Singapore

Janice Lee – Modeling Livelihood Impacts in the Context of Land Use Changes from Biofuel Expansion in Indonesia

Kang Min Ngo – Dynamics of a 50-Year Old Secondary Forest in Singapore

Current and alumni DBS grad students

It was great opportunity to reunite, meet and mingle with tropical conservation scientists from all over the world. All in all, a fun and fruitful meeting. You can find out more information about the conference at this website: ATBC 2010. Next year the annual meeting will be held in Tanzania – hope there will be another strong contingent from DBS there!

Mammal Talks at the Singapore Zoo this National Day weekend

Mammal Talks at the Singapore Zoo for National Day weekend

Date: 7th to 9th August 2010

Four speakers from the NUS Biodiversity Crew will be regaling parent and kids about mammals in Singapore this National Day weekend as part of “EcoKidz Quest 2010”. This programme is organised by the Singapore Zoo to raise awareness of native wildlife in Singapore.

The speakers and their topics are.

7th August 2010 (Saturday)

9.30 – 10am: “Midnight Mammals of Pulau Ubin,” by Marcus Chua

10 – 10.30am: “Banded Leaf Monkeys of Singapore,” by Andie Ang

8th August 2010 (Sunday)

10 – 10.30am: “Stalking the fruit bandits: the Common Palm Civet in Siglap,” by Xu Weiting

2 – 4pm: “Nocturnal fauna of Singapore,” by Fam Shun Deng

9th August 2010 (Monday)

11 – 1pm: “Raptors of Singapore,” by Fam Shun Deng

We hope that you can join us for the talks at the Singapore Zoo and learn something about the animals that also call Singapore their homeland during this National Day holiday!

Wed 11 Aug 2010: 3pm @ NUS DBS CR2 – Dianne Brunton on “The role of song in the life history strategies of the New Zealand Bellbird”

“The role of song in the life history strategies of the New Zealand Bellbird”

By Dianne Brunton
Ecology & Conservation Group
Institute of Natural Sciences
Massey University, Albany
Auckland New Zealand

Wed 11 Aug 2010: 3.00 pm – 4.00 pm
NUS DBS Conference Room 2
Block S2, Level 3 Mezzanine
(walk up the stairs towards the ridge after the aquarium)
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore

Host: Navjot Sodhi

About the Speaker – Dr. Brunton currently oversees a thriving Postgraduate research group at the Albany Campus of Massey University, where she supervises more than 25 projects primarily focused on the ecology and evolutionary biology of New Zealand native species. Her research interests include the evolution of song in endemic songbirds (a completed Marsden project), sexual selection in NZ bellbirds, and modeling foraging ecology using stable isotopes.

She has a number of collaborations with researchers at the New Zealand Centre for Conservation Medicine (Auckland Zoo), Department of Conservation, Landcare, Berkeley, University of Colorado and Cornell University. These involve exploring the links between behaviour and conservation biology and the role of diseases and parasites in the evolution and ecology of NZ¹s fauna. These collaborations have lead to numerous postgraduate research projects and exciting interactions with researchers in a variety of fields related to conservation, behaviour and ecology.

About the talk – The bellbird (Anthornis melanura) is a honeyeater endemic to New Zealand, which uses song to defend breeding territories and/or food resources year round. Compared to almost all studied passerines, female bellbirds exhibit significant singing behaviour and sing a variety of complex songs. This intriguing behaviour warranted further investigation and I tested the “dear enemy” hypothesis for female bellbirds.

This hypothesis proposes that the level of territorial aggression toward conspecific neighbours is lower than that shown toward strangers primarily because of differences in ‘threat’. I experimentally tested the dear enemy hypothesis for territorial females using female neighbour­stranger playback. I found clear evidence that individual females discriminate between conspecific female neighbour and stranger song. Aggressive responses were strongest during the courtship and chick-rearing stages and involved rapid counter-singing responses and movement toward the speaker.

Most importantly, females were more aggressive toward the songs of neighbouring females. This result is opposite to the dear enemy phenomenon and suggests that neighbouring females pose a greater threat than strangers. We predict that these higher levels of aggression may play a role in sexual selection and polygny prevention and that neighbouring females are the greatest threat to the loss of a mate. It appears the more we learn about bellbirds the more intriguing they become.

Celebrate National Day with a Lim Chu Kang mangrove cleanup on 7th August!

It’s time for the annual National Day cleanup at the orphan-ed but precious mangrove ecosystem at Lim Chu Kang. We record no data except for weight at this event and it is hard work.

We’ll provide transport (from NUS) and trash bags. Please sign up here: http://tinyurl.com/lck-07aug2010reg. For more details, see: the Raffles Museum Toddycats blog.