Mon 04 Jun 2012: 10am – Nanthinee Jeevanandam on figs & fig wasps in urban Singapore

“The phenology of four dioecious figs and their obligate pollinators, the fig wasps, in urban Singapore.”

Nanthinee JeevanandamNanthinee Jeevanandam
PhD Candidate
Terrestrial Ecology Lab,
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore

Supervisor: Richard Corlett

Monday 4th June 2012: 10am
DBS Conference Room 1
)next to General Office)
S3-05-02 (S3 Level 5) Map

Abstract – In a human-dominated landscape such as Singapore’s, figs play an important role in providing sustenance for a variety of urban wildlife, such as squirrels, bats and a large variety of birds.

The focus of this study was on four species of dioecious pioneer figs that grow in abandoned or disturbed habitats: F. grossularioides, F. fistulosa, F. variegata and F. aurata. The phenology and pollination biology of the fig plants and the dispersal and longevity of the pollinating fig wasps were studied.

Phenology was correlated with rainfall in all four species, but to varying degrees. Following dry months, there was an increase in crop terminations in F. grossularioides and F. aurata, creating potential gaps in phenology which could threaten the local persistence of pollinator populations. Moreover, compared with the pollinators of monoecious figs, those of these dioecious species appear to disperse shorter distances and closer to the ground. The already short adult lives of the pollinators (< 2 days) were reduced further by high temperatures (> 32oC).

While all four species are currently doing well in the highly urbanized and fragmented landscape of Singapore, they may be vulnerable to rising temperatures and extended droughts in the future.

All are welcome!


Fri 08 Jun 2012: 4pm @ NUS LT20 – Richard Corlett on “Climate change in the tropics: the end of the world as we know it?”

Richard Corlett will be giving his final seminar in LT20 on Friday, June 8th at 4pm. From 1st July, 2012, Richard will be at: Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Menglun, 666303 Yunnan, China


pdf of poster –download this file

“Climate change in the tropics: the end of the world as we know it?”

Abstract: – Until recently, many tropical biologists believed that significant climate change was too remote a concern to worry about in comparison with the more urgent threats from deforestation and overexploitation. This attitude has been largely replaced in the last few years by a widespread recognition that climate change is already happening in the tropics at a rate that is relevant to current and planned conservation action, as well as human livelihoods.

However, the tropical literature on the biological impacts of anthropogenic climate change does not currently capture the full range of uncertainties inherent in the prediction process. In reality, the range of plausible tropical futures projected from realistic greenhouse gas scenarios and the best available climate models includes potentially catastrophic changes in tropical climates within the next few decades.

Conversely, the simplifications inherent in current approaches to modeling impacts may tend to exaggerate the effects of climate change on tropical biodiversity by underestimating the capacities of tropical species for acclimation and rapid evolution, and ignoring the existence of refugia within heterogeneous landscapes. Combining the physical and biological uncertainties, it is clear that there is a potential for large under- or over-estimation of the risks.

I will outline possible futures, consider the prospects for reducing the uncertainties, and discuss specifically tropical options for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Job: 2-year Research Assistant for PAR

Department of Architecture
Advertisement for Research Assistant position

We are looking for a full-time Research Assistant for a 24-month appointment (with possible extension) to commence as soon as possible. The salary will be commensurate with candidate’s experience and qualification.

The appointed RA will assist in the conduct of a research project focused on the evaluation of photosynthetically active radiation in the built environment, and plant responses to the light environment. The RA assist the PI in the installation of sensors, periodic downloading of data in the field, measurement of plant responses, and data analysis. As regular field work is required, the RA will need to be comfortable with working in the outdoor environment.


  • Bachelor/Masters in Architecture, or a good honours degree in B. of Science (specialization in Environmental Biology is preferred)
  • Experience in using Autodesk Ecotect, and Radiance is an advantage
  • Ability to work independently
  • Good written and spoken communication skills

Interested applicants please contact A/P Tan Puay Yok (

Job: Full-time Teaching Assistant (FTTA) for Life Sciences (Environmental Biology), deadline: 23 May 2012

Update: Note the requirement to include the completed NUS Personal Particulars Form in the submission.

Full-time Teaching Assistant for
Life Sciences (Environmental Biology) Undergraduate Courses
@ Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore
Application Deadline: Wednesday 23 May 2012

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

The FTTA will be working as a team with professors and laboratory officers to achieve holistic goals for undergraduate education in NUS. The FTTA must possess high accuracy with data management, demonstrated administrative processes, ability to manage and consult peers, understand student issues and be passionate about teaching.

Applicants must read the Selection Criteria carefully and address each of the points stated. Incomplete applications will not be evaluated.

The specific duties of the FTTA include:

  • oversee modules in biodiversity, ecology and animal behavior,
  • recruit, manage and train part-time TAs,
  • oversee the schedule of field trips and laboratory practical sessions,
  • manage and mark continual assessments,
  • student marks management, and
  • address student queries.

The appointment will commence in July 2012. This appointment is a one-year contract, and is renewable based on performance.

Selection Criteria

  • A Bachelor (Honors) Degree in Life Sciences or in a relevant field, practical related experience is desirable;
  • Demonstrated understanding of the department’s research focus and teaching environment;
  • Strong interpersonal skills to provide high quality student-focused services;
  • Demonstrated ability to take initiative and work independently, prioritizing workload and meeting deadlines with minimal supervision;
  • Demonstrated ability to work cooperatively as a member of a team and manage groups at the undergraduate level;
  • Experience in administrative processes, with high attention to accuracy and detail;
  • Demonstrated skills with Microsoft Office Suite, especially Outlook, Excel and Word, and Google Docs

Closing Date: Wednesday 23 May 2012

Applications are accepted via email only. Applicants must send a cover letter, a completed Personal Particulars Form (click to download), a note addressing the selection criteria and curriculum vitae stating three referees. Reference letters will be required only after applicants are shortlisted for interview.

Send all applications to:
Mr. Laurence Gwee
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore
Block S3 Level 5, 14 Science Drive 4
Singapore 117543

QE: Evolution of Sepsidae (Diptera: Cyclorrhapha): toward a better understanding of the phylogenetic relationships and chemical communication (4 May 2012: 10.00am Lei Zhao)

Department of Biological Sciences, NUS
Qualifying Examination

Speaker:          LEI Zhao (Graduate Student, Dept. of Biological Sciences, NUS)
Date:               4 May 2012, Friday
Time:               10:30am
Venue:            DBS Conference Room (S3 Level 5) #05-01
Supervisor:     Prof  Meier, Rudolf

Abstract: Sepsidae is a small but widespread family of flies with more than 300 described species. Sepsid flies possess extraordinary sexually dimorphic structures and mating behaviors that evolve fast given that even closely related species differ with regard to these features. Sepsidae are frequently used in comparative studies of sexual selection. However, some phylogenetic relationships within this family are still poorly understood despite several previous phylogenetic analyses using morphological and molecular markers.

Here I propose to address the remaining phylogenetic problems through denser taxon and gene sampling. The latter will involve the use of next generation sequencing for obtaining new fast and slow markers that allow for resolving old and recent relationships. I furthermore explore the evolution and utility of chemical compounds (cuticular hydrocarbons and defensive secretions) as novel characters for species identification in Sepsidae.