Students understanding cats – territorial behaviour and home range of community cats

Note the date has been corrected to this Wednesday,i.e. 30 Mar 2011.

Community cats are free-roaming cats managed by volunteers who have adopted the Trap-Neuter-Return-Manage program as advocated by the Cat Welfare Society and SPCA. Studying the ecology of community cats is a way for us to better understand and appreciate these animals.

This year, a group of cross-faculty students observed the behaviour exhibited between individual community cats in their neighbourhood while a 3rd year biology student followed 10 cats in a single estate to plot their home range.

This Wednesday, we all meet to exchange notes. All are welcome to join us.

Wednesday 30 Mar 2011: 6.30pm – 7.30pm
DBS Conference Room, S3-05
Host: N. Sivasothi

Talk 1 – “Territoriality in cats: food versus space”

We observed the behavior of community cats in five housing estates in Singapore, by measuring the distance between individuals before, during and after feeding. Cats tolerated the proximity of other individuals in the presence of food and general behavioural patterns will be described as well as traits specific to certain individuals.

By Chua Hui Xuan Valerie, Heng Yuan Hao, Koh Hui Qin Alethea, Tan Shu Ling Leanne, Wong Yimin
Group 01, LSM1303 Animal Behaviour project group 2010/11 Sem 2

Talk 2 – “Peak activity, home range size and overlap of community cats in a mature TRNM estate – a discussion of a preliminary study. “

By Mei AIlian
LSM3288 Undergraduate Opportunities in Science 2010/11 Sem 2 (ongoing).

About the talk – While human-cat conflict has been examined the past, the ecology of sterilised community cats has not yet been examined. This study used scan and focal surveys of 10 out of 24 cats in an HDB estate, investigating the peak activity of the cats and the distribution, overlap, gender influence and feeding location on home range. The diversity of sociality of individual cats were also examined in this study.

Andie Ang regales TEDxNUS with tales of the Banded Leaf Monkey in Singapore

On this day of Earth Hour , one of the Biodiversity Crew did her bit injecting the audience at TEDxNUS with tales of Singapore’s biodiversity – Andie Ang regaled the crowd with tales of the Banded Leaf Monkey. From the tweets below (in reverse chronology) you can see she had a great time with the typically enthusiastic TEDxNUS audience; great job Andie!

#tedxnus - Twitter Search

(20) #tedxnus - Twitter Search

Thanks to Evo flunky labmate Ang Yu Chen (a TedxNUS 2010 speaker) who went down to capture leaf monkey girl in action:

Thu 31 Mar 2011: 12pm – Yap Von Bing on “How to sample humans, animals, plants and ‘fossils'”

NUS Faculty of Science Lunchtime Talk
** Sandwiches will be provided for the first 100 attendees **

“How to sample humans, animals, plants, and ‘fossils'”

By Assoc Prof Yap Von Bing
Department of Statistics and Applied Probability

Thu 31 March 2011: 12.00pm – 1.00pm
Lecture Theatre 31
Block S16, Level 3, Faculty of Science, NUS

About the talk – “Many ecological studies aim to characterize a population with a sample, hence can benefit greatly from lessons learnt over a century’s surveys. These issues will be illustrated with past US presidential elections, and placed in the ecological context. A recent study of a horseshoe crab habitat in Singapore will be described in detail, focusing on the sampling strategy.

I will also discuss concrete examples of using the two-sample statistical test to answer scientific questions; these have three flavours: (a) test is justified, and question is readily interpretable, (b) test is justified, but question is not so interpretable, (c) test is not justified.

This talk is pitched at the level of budding ecologists (ideally before their fascinating field activities), but the general ideas can be interesting to a wider audience. Recommendations will be given on balancing sound presentation of numerical data with the pressure to produce respectable-looking statistics.

About the speaker – Yap Von Bing has degrees in Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Statistics. His research interest is the application of statistics to biological problems, in particular DNA evolution and genomics. The effective teaching of statistics is another pursuit that has gained substantially from numerous consultations for colleagues, mostly from the Faculty of Science.

You are welcome to attend these monthly Lunchtime Science Talks organized by the Faculty of Science. These talks aim to provide a general introduction to important areas of scientific research and are suitable for both researchers and undergraduates. They will be given by prominent Faculty of Science staff who have won recognition for their work or who have been recently promoted.

Spot the monkeys!

In anticipation to Andie’s monkey talk next saturday at TEDxNUS, here’s a little primer to get you all into monkey-mode!

Thanks to the Jane Goodall Institute (Singapore), Andie does regular fieldtrips up to Panti, Johor to survey the banded leaf-monkeys there as a point of comparison for the Singaporean counterparts. Recently, while looking for the banded leaf monkeys, she came across a whole troupe of dusky leaf monkeys. these are close cousins to the banded leaf monkeys, and much less shy, but oddly, are not found in Singapore.

So aloof to Andie’s presence,  these duskies were going about their daily routine while she began to do her paparazzi. In the picture below are actually TEN dusky leaf monkeys!

dusky leaf monkeys hiding!Can you spot them all? To make things easier for you,
we’ve made a viewer to zoom in and scrutinize the picture here.


(If flash doesn’t work for you, click here for the large-res actual photo)

Elusive, aren’t they? Click here to reveal the monkeys!

Andie will have this and more in her talk come next saturday (26 March).


What can I do for conservation from so far away?

Every year, Navjot Sodhi and I play a bad cop, good cop routine with Duke University students from Dan Rittschof and Michael Orbach’s Urban Tropical Ecology class.

This morning Navjot Sodhi adopted his Dr Doomsday persona as usual when talking about conservation in South East Asia but he ended with a hopeful note (‘a Hollywood ending’ he said), citing Pilai Poonswad’s exemplary hornbill work in Thailand.

Then brought up the question, ‘what can I do for conservation from so far away?’ To answer this, he showed a TEDx video featuring’s indefatigable Rhett Butler talking about how his passion fueled his work and in 2010 helped mount international protest against the pillage of rosewood logging in Madagascar.

An excellent example indeed!

New journal article just published – data uncertainty, wetland loss, policy implications.

“Information uncertainty arising from poor data analysis (model selection, poor source checking and propagation) is inherent in many scientific estimates.” Alrighty!

Friess, D. A & E. L. Webb, 2011. Bad data equals bad policy: how to trust estimates of ecosystem loss when there is so much uncertainty? Environmental Conservation, published online: 14 Mar 2011, doi: 10.1017/S0376892911000026.

Friess &  Webb - Cambridge Journals Online - Abstract - Bad data equals bad policy: how to trust estimates of ecosystem loss when there is so much uncertainty?

Links – abstract, article (NUS proxy)