Life Sciences graduating students – you are invited to a Farewell Dinner, Fri 08 Apr 2016: 6.00pm – register now!

Dear Life Sciences Students,

“If you are completing the undergraduate course and graduating at the end of this semester, an early congratulation to you for the achievement made!

The Department of Biological Sciences would like to invite you to a farewell evening event!

Farewell Life Sciences Graduating Students
Friday 8th April 2016: 6.00pm
Venue: To be confirmed

To register for the event, please go to

We hope to see you there!

Amy Choong
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore


Are you interested in a Master of Science degree by coursework @ Dept Biological Sciences? Let us know through this survey!

Master of Science by coursework – Interest Survey

The Department of Biological Sciences is conducting an interest survey for a Master of Science degree by coursework. Project work or dissertation may be allowed in place of completing some modules. Your response will be held in strict confidence.

Please participate in the survey here:

Anyone with an interest in such a degree (undergraduate, working adults, etc.) is invited to participate. Do lend us your support by participating in the survey.

Thank you!

Right under our noses! Microhyla laterite, a new and endangered species of frog discovered through an integrative taxonomic approach

Grad student Seshadri reports with jubilation:

Dear Colleagues,


It gives me great pleasure to share this recent publication reporting the discovery of a new species of frog from the Coastal plains along the Southwest part of India.

One would agree that amphibians are among the most fascinating creatures owing to the sheer magnitude of diversity, the enormous range of behaviour and an ecology that we are finding intriguingly intricate. Further, taxonomy and systematics are a fundamental key to documenting biodiversity and in recent years, amphibian species richness in India has grown in leaps and bounds – just a couple months ago, there were reports of new species being discovered from India.

In our rather unique study, we report the discovery of Microhyla laterite, not from the super species rich Western Ghats but from laterite rock dominated areas a sleepy little town of Manipal, Udupi District in Southwest India. This discovery is a case of a new species hidden in plain sight for decades, and all this while, thought to be a variant of the common Microhyla ornata. Using an integrative taxonomic approach spanning genetics, morphology and bio-acoustic comparisons, it was actually easy to tell them apart!

Map showing type locality of M. laterite sp. nov. (Seshadri et al., 2016)
Screenshot 05

The new species has a distribution range that is less than 150 sq. km and as we propose the new species, we suggest assigning it as Endangered (EN) under B1ab(iii),(iv) of the IUCN Red List. This discovery is significant to us because we now have a mascot to champion the cause of conserving laterite habitats which, even on official government records, are listed as “Wastelands”!

The study is perhaps the first in India where species discovery and subsequent description has been undertaken with a citizen engagement program. Mr. Ramit, my co-author is an engineer by training and was conducting outreach activities as part of his novel initiative, “My Laterite, My Habitat”. He noticed these frogs and investigated further with fellow nature enthusiasts Mr. Saurab and Pratik. The three of them are not part of an academic set up but are passionate about nature and its conservation. This led to a collaborative effort with my long term mentor and colleague Dr. Gururaja and his team and we certainly think it is the right step forward in future.

The paper has been published in PLOS One earlier this morning and is hot off the press: Seshadri KS, Ramit S, Priti H, Ravikanth G, Vidisha MK, Saurabh S, Pratik M and Gururaja KV. Microhyla laterite sp. nov., A New Species of Microhyla Tschudi, 1838 (Amphibia: Anura: Microhylidae) from a Laterite Rock Formation in South West India. PLOS One. 9th March 2016.

I hope you will find the paper interesting and as always, I look forward to your criticisms, comments and perspectives on this work.

Have a good day!

Thanking you,


With warm regards
Seshadri K S

PhD candidate
Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation Lab
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore
14 Science Drive 4
Singapore 117543

Conservation Asia 2016: conference scholarships for Singapore students working on urban ecology

From Roman Carrasco, NUS DBS:

Dear all,
City Developments Limited Urban has made a donation to the ATBC–SCB Asia conference to support scholarships that cover the registration cost of conference.
The criteria for application, in order of priority are:

  • Singaporean students working on urban ecology
  • Singapore-based students working on urban ecology
  • Singaporean students working on environmental biology

Please check the website of the conference for details on documents needed to apply:!scholarships/c5e2

Please email me your documents to be considered for the scholarship.



L. Roman Carrasco, PhD
Assistant Professor in Bioeconomics
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore
14 Science Drive 4, 117543, Singapore
Tel: +65 66011145
Skype: roman-carrasco

Fri 11 Mar 2016: 4.00pm – Dan Friess – “What’s driving mangrove deforestation in Southeast Asia?”

NewImage“What’s driving mangrove deforestation in Southeast Asia?”

By Dan Friess
Department of Geography
National University of Singapore

Friday 11th March 2016: 4.00pm

Conference Room 1 (S3-05)
Department of Biological Sciences,
National University of Singapore

All are welcome!
Register here please (for room requirements)
Host: N. Sivasothi aka Otterman

Abstract – Coastal mangrove forests provide important ecosystem services at local and regional scales, though are generally considered one of the most threatened habitats in the tropics. However, this assumption is often based on the upscaling of local studies or otherwise uncertain data. This seminar will discuss the uncertainty in previous estimates of mangrove loss across the tropics, present the results of a regional-scale remote sensing analysis that quantified rates of mangrove change in Southeast Asia over the last decade, and discuss the impact of previously under-appreciated proximate drivers of mangrove loss.

Mangrove forests in the last decade have been lost at a much reduced rate, and the spatial distribution of loss has changed; while Thailand was previously seen as a deforestation hotspot in the region, this has now shifted to Myanmar and parts of Borneo. Traditional proximate drivers such as aquaculture and rice production are still leading causes of mangrove loss, though under-appreciated drivers such as oil palm expansion are beginning to play a more important role in the region. Their management thus needs to draw upon experiences in other ecosystems, such as peat swamp forests.

While this seminar uses mangroves as a case study ecosystem, issues of data uncertainty and methods to map habitat loss are applicable to all forested ecosystems.

See: Richards, D. R. & D. Friess. 2016. Rates and drivers of mangrove deforestation in Southeast Asia, 2000-2012. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113, 344-349. [abstract]

About the speaker – Dan is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Geography, NUS. Dan is the Principal Investigator of the Mangrove Lab [], a group of researchers with broad research interests in coastal ecosystem services. Research projects range from quantifying ecosystem services, understanding threats to ecosystem services (land cover change, sea level rise), and managing threats through habitat restoration and Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES). Research is conducted throughout Southeast Asia, Madagascar and New Caledonia. Dan was a postdoctoral researcher in the Applied Plant Ecology lab in Biological Sciences, NUS between 2009 and 2011 and an organiser of the Mandai Mangrove and Mudflat Workshop in 2013.