Wed 12 Jan 2011: 4.30pm @SDWA – Dan Friess on “Are all intertidal wetlands created equal?”

Dan FriessSingapore-Delft Water Alliance


“Are all intertidal wetlands created equal?”
by Dan Friess

SDWA & Applied Plant Ecology Lab

Wed 12 Jan 2011: 4.30pm to 5.30pm

SDWA Conference Room (Block E1, #08-25)
National University of Singapore

About the talk – Intertidal wetlands such as mangroves and salt marshes provide numerous important ecological functions, though are in rapid and global decline. To better conserve and restore these wetland ecosystems, we need an understanding of the fundamental bottlenecks and thresholds to their establishment and long-term ecological maintenance.

By providing the first systematic comparison between salt marshes and mangroves, we unravel how the interplay between species-specific life history traits and biogeomorphological feedback processes determine where, when and what wetland can establish, the thresholds to long-term ecosystem stability, and constraints to genetic connectivity between intertidal wetland populations at the landscape level.

To answer these important questions, research into the constraints to wetland development, and biological adaptations to overcome these critical bottlenecks and thresholds requires a truly interdisciplinary approach.

General Enquiry/Registration: Ms Sally Teh, Tel: 6516 6852, Email:

Photo from Rachael Oh

Job: 1 RF, 4 RA positions for climate change impact on biodiversity in Singapore (closes 19 Jan 2011)

Job opportunity: 1 Research Fellow, 4 Research Assistants for “Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity in Singapore”

We are recruiting suitable candidates for a one-year project on the impacts of climate change on Singapore’s biodiversity. This project is commissioned by National Environment Agency through A*STAR’s Institute of High Performance Computing and coordinated by the Department of Biological Sciences, NUS.

This is the first comprehensive attempt at analysing climate change impacts on Singapore’s biodiversity and will set the stage for more specific follow-up investigations on mitigation and adaptation.

The Research Fellow and Research Assistants will form a team to work closely with a research team of modellers from IHPC. Senior researchers from the Department and external collaborators from NIE and the University of Adelaide will provide guidance and direction. The project offers an interesting research experience and the results will influence policy formulation relevant to Singapore’s future development.

The Research Fellow will facilitate and assist in overall project management and leadership. He/she will direct the team of four Research Assistants. The comprehensive biodiversity database will be developed in consultation with relevant agencies and climate change impact modelling will be developed in consultation with the data modeling team from IHPC. Literature reviews on climate change impacts on tropical biodiversity will be conducted. The databases for biodiversity and climate change variables will be integrated and modeled for expected consequences on Singapore’s biodiversity, research gaps will be identified, and mitigation and adaptation responses recommended.

The Research Assistants will collate, analyse and manage information relating to climate change impacts on biodiversity with a focus on tropical biodiversity and particularly that of Singapore. They will be involved with intensive literature search, information retrieval and analysis. Knowledge and interest in Singapore’s biodiversity and climate change impacts is a distinct advantage.


Research Fellow

  • A PhD in Biology (with a particular focus on biodiversity)
  • Strong background in the biodiversity and ecology of Singapore. Additional experience in climate change impacts on biodiversity will be an advantage.
  • Ability to gather and analyse information, prepare synthesis reports and make effective presentations
  • Have some interest in modeling and handling large datasets
  • Highly-motivated team player with effective management, communication and interpersonal skills
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills

Research Assistant

  • At least a 2nd class Upper Honours Degree in Biology.
  • Strong background in Singapore’s biodiversity and ecology, with an interest in climate change impacts.
  • Have strong sense of responsibility in the work.
  • Must be a team player and be able to communicate effectively.

All the positions are full-time for a 12-month duration. Salary commensurates with qualification and experience.

Interested candidates are requested to send their CV to Prof. Chou Loke Ming ( before the closing date of 19 January 2010. Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed in the last week of January and successful candidates will start work in the second week of February 2010.

For other job opportunities, see:

Job: Building Project Officer at Raffles Museum

The Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (RMBR), Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore is seeking a Project Officer with a polytechnic diploma or university degree holder in building, facilities management, civil engineering, museum studies or related fields including biology (preferably in environmental, ecological, or conservation biology).

Details at Raffles Museum News.

Closing date: 21 January 2011.

Job: RAs for marine biodiversity survey with TMSI/RMBR (closes 21 Jan 2010)

The Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI), together with the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (RMBR) is looking for Research Assistants to participate actively in the recently launched Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Survey of Singapore in collaboration with the National Parks Board.

This project seeks to identify and document marine organisms and habitats in Singapore waters today, so that we are better able to manage and conserve our marine resources. Two positions are available immediately.

Primary responsibilities:

  1. Planning and organizing field surveys in coordination with National Parks Board.
  2. Active participation in field surveys including collection of animals, plants and measurement of physical parameters.
  3. Examination, sorting and processing of living specimens obtained during surveys.
  4. Identification and documentation of preserved organisms.
  5. Data entry, processing, analysis and report writing.

Minimum requirements

  1. Degree in Biology, Marine Biology or Aquatic Sciences from a recognized University.
  2. Possess good oral and written English communication skills.
  3. Ability to work for long hours both in the field and in the laboratory with little or no supervision.
  4. Familiar with the classification and taxonomy of living marine organisms, their natural history and ecology.
  5. Ability to swim.


  • Salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience. The appointment will be for a period of one year in the first instance and extension subject to mutual agreement.


  • Please submit a covering letter and CV, including names and addresses of three referees to
  • Please indicate in the subject heading: Re: Research Assistants/CMBS

Closing Date

  • Closing date for applications is 21 January 2011.

For other job opportunities, see:

Fri 07 Jan 2011: 2pm – Jeffrey Low on “The ecological significance of Sargassum on Singapore’s reefs.”

Department of Biological Sciences, NUS
Qualifying Examination

“The ecological significance of Sargassum on Singapore’s reefs.”

Jeffrey Low Kim Yew
Graduate Student,
Dept.of Biological Sciences, NUS

Fri 07 Jan 2011: 2.00pm
Seminar Room 1

(S2-04, #04-11; click for map)

Supervisor: Prof Chou Loke Ming


Abstract – Forty-two species of Sargassum have been documented from Singapore. This tally takes into account recent revelations on synonymies and misidentifications in this taxonomically complex group.

Voucher specimens for only 11 species exist in local herbaria, of which only four have been observed in the field. Three others have not been reported before, even thought they were collected in the early 1900s. It is unclear at this point how many of the other species documented from Singapore are still extent.

Of the four species observed in the field, S. siliquosum is the dominant species, occurring at almost all the sites surveyed. S. aquifolium was the next most common species, followed by S. granuliferum and S. polycystum.

Sargassum typically dominates the reef flat (with 26.5 to 54.2% cover) up to the reef crest (6.4 to 31.6% cover), but no further (slope = 0.2-0.8% cover). Why this is so is not known. It is likely that sediment load in the water limits the light penetrating to the reef slope, in addition to causing smothering of juveniles.

Historically, Sargassum is known to “bloom” seasonally, the highest abundance corresponding to the North East Monsoon, and its lowest abundance with the South West Monsoon.

This study has documented the growth of S. siliquosum from August to November, showing very rapid extensions between September and October, extending from 24.3 + 6.6 cm and 23.3 + 6.0 cm to a maximum in November at 227.8 + 43.0 cm to 247.2 + 43.0 cm. During this period, Sargassum forms an almost impenetrable wall (or crown) around the reefs, making surveys particularly difficult.

The physicality of Sargassum as it blooms provides both food and shelter to a diverse range of organisms, including coral reef fish. Only one species (out of 14 species recorded at the survey sites), Siganus javus, has been observed to feed on Sargassum, however. Rapid assessment of the epifauna of Sargassum also shows a depauperate community, comprising of 16 copepods and isopods, 3 marine snails and 6 shrimps (Hippolytes ventricosa).

Future research will focus on quantifying the photo-physiology of Sargassum, to understand the effect of a changing environment on its relative abundance, distribution and growth.

Jeffrey Low's Photos - Profile pictures

Mon 10 Jan 2011: 10am – Daniel Ng on “Effects of global warming and acid precipitation on tropical amphibians.”

Department of Biological Sciences, NUS
Qualifying Examination

“Effects of global warming and acid precipitation on tropical amphibians.”

Daniel Ng Jia Jun
Graduate Student,
Dept.of Biological Sciences, NUS

Mon 10 Jan 2011: 10.00am
Conference Room II

(S1-03 mezzanine; map)

Supervisor: David Bickford


Abstract – Dubbed the “canary in the global coal mine”, amphibians are generally believed to be good indicators of the environment’s health. However, their populations have been declining worldwide in recent years and one third of amphibians are threatened with extinction. Drastic declines have been observed even within pristine protected areas. Due to anthropogenic activities, atmospheric greenhouse gases and pollutants are rapidly rising. This has resulted in rising temperature and increased acidic deposition which are implicated in their current declines.

The aims of this study are to investigate the effects of low pH and elevated temperature on native amphibian species, ascertain whether there is any change in amphibian species distribution, and to estimate the impacts of global warming and acid precipitation on regional amphibian populations. Current results suggest that both low pH and elevated temperature can affect survival and can also work synergistically to have significant negative impacts on amphibians.

Photos of Daniel Ng

Fri 07 Jan 2011: 6.00pm – Tom Evans on “Lessons from a REDD project in Cambodia”

Department of Biological Sciences
Seminar Announcement

“Lessons learnt from developing a REDD project in Cambodia.”
By Dr Tom Evans
Deputy Director, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Cambodia Program

Fri 07 Jan 2011: 6.00pm
DBS Conference Room 1 (S3-05; click for map)

Hosted by Prof Richard Corlett


About the talk – Carbon credits from avoided deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) can be traded in the voluntary carbon market and may be eligible for the much larger market that would created under the proposed in- ternational statutory climate agreement. These payments could increase incentives for forest conservation in Cambodia and improve livelihoods in remote rural areas. WCS is supporting the Cambodian government to test this concept at a pilot scale in the Seima Protection Forest, an area of outstanding biodiversity and livelihood significance.

In this presentation Dr Evans will outline progress so far in developing the project for validation against two widely recognised standards and discuss how the work is affected by the uncertain policy environment from Copenhagen to Cancun and beyond.

20110107-Tom_Evans-REDD.pdf (1 page)

Job opportunity: Laboratory Officer @ TMSI, 1-year contract

The Tropical Marine Science Institute is looking to hire a laboratory officer to start immediately on a 1-year contract to support marine biofouling projects.

Job opportunity: Laboratory Officer


  • Diploma or degree, preferably with Biology or Aquatic Science background.
  • Candidates must be able to swim and have a Class 3 Singapore driver’s license.
  • Must be prepared to work outdoors, and the work may be physically demanding especially during the warm months of the year.
  • Candidates should be highly motivated, resourceful individuals with good technical skills.
  • Some practical knowledge of tropical marine biodiversity would be an advantage.


  • Assist with marine biofouling projects, in both field and laboratory.
  • Assist with data management, analyses, and preparation of reports and maintenance of field research facilities and equipment.
  • The primary job location will be TMSI St John’s Island marine laboratory.


  • Salary will commensurate with qualifications and experience.
  • The appointment will be for a period of one year and extendable depending upon the candidate’s performance.


  • Interested candidates are invited to email their detailed resume and cover letter to:
  • Please indicate in the subject heading: “RE: Lab Officer/Biofouling”.
  • Only short-listed candidates will be notified.

For other job opportunities, see: