Department of Biological Sciences, NUS
Centers of plant generic endemism in Borneo and their significance for biogeography and conservation
Speaker: Louise Neo (Graduate Student, Dept. of Biological Sciences, NUS)
Date: 25 April 2018, Wednesday
Venue: Seminar Room 2 (S2 Level 4, #04-15)
Supervisor: Assoc Prof Hugh Tan T W
Co-Supervisor: Dr Wong Khoon Meng (Principal Researcher, Singapore Botanic Gardens)
The narrow geographical ranges of endemic plants that make them regionally or globally rare, render them of special interest for biogeographic research and conservation. Endemic genera can be unique evolutionary lineages. Centers of generic endemism, where these are concentrated, can indicate special environments, or could be areas of active speciation or refugia. The highly biodiverse rainforests of Borneo have been a major source of speciation and dispersal for plant lineages in Southeast Asia since the pre-Miocene, but they are hypothesized to be in a refugial state at present and, therefore, highly threatened. Centers of plant generic endemism have never been examined, although they can highlight priority areas for biogeographic research and conservation. I use a taxonomy-informed approach to gather the known occurrences of the endemic and near-endemic plant genera of Borneo from critically identified herbarium specimens, with the aims of (1) mapping distribution patterns of the genera, (2) identifying centers of generic endemism and their environmental correlates, (3) understanding distribution patterns and centers of generic endemism within the historical biogeography context of Borneo, and (4) assessing conservation exigencies for these genera.
All are welcome
Food recycling with black soldier flies
Singapore has a food waste and a food security problem. Both issues can be addressed by recycling food waste with black soldier flies (BSFs). The larvae of the flies are used as feed (e.g. for egg/ fish production) and the remaining waste can be used as fertilizer for vertical farming. More details can be found here: https://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/black-soldier-flies-war-food-waste/.
We are now recruiting manpower for this new 2-year project. The first phase of the project concentrates on improving the performance of the flies via artificial selection for higher larval growth rate and larger clutch size. The genome of the species will be sequenced and regular re-sequencing will be used to identify the genetic markers that are under selection.
The second phase of the project consists of working with our commercial partners to establish pilot plants capable of handling at least one tonne of food waste per day.
Three positions are available. One for a project manager (e.g. with PhD) and two for RAs or lab technologists; use the relevant links to apply:
Prof Rudolf Meier
Evolution Lab [link]
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore
PhD Defense Seminar cum Oral Examination
Conservation of epiphytic orchids in urbanised tropical environments
Speaker: Muhammad Izuddin Bin Mohamad Rafee (Graduate Student Dept. of Biological Sciences, NUS)
Date: 13 April 2018, Friday
Venue: DBS Conference Room (S3 LEVEL 5, #05-01)
Supervisor: Assoc Prof Edward L. Webb
“As urban expansion persists, preserving biodiversity becomes progressively difficult. Yet, ex situ methods can facilitate biodiversity conservation in urban spaces. However, species-specific niche requirements—particularly in urbanised environments—remain largely unknown, making ex situ conservation programmes ineffectual. Using native epiphytic orchids as a study system, I assessed two primary ecological barriers to orchid regeneration in urban habitats, namely availability of orchid mycorrhizal fungus / fungi (OMF) as well as the niche requirements of OMF and native orchids. First, I assessed the availability of OMF on urban trees and the orchid-site suitability of various orchid species by conducting metabarcoding and next-generation sequencing on tree bark and orchid samples. I also identified biophysical factors that influenced OMF presence and richness on urban sites. Second, I investigated the germination niches—i.e. compatible OMF and suitable biophysical conditions—of four orchid species by conducting orchid mycorrhizal fungal baiting and seed sowing experiments. I then assessed the potential for aboveground orchid seed banks (seed longevity) using seed viability tests on post-experimental, non-germinated seeds. Third, I evaluated the effectiveness of managed relocation of multiple native orchid species in various urban habitats via long-term planting experiments, as well as identified species post-germination niche requirements that influenced the long-term survival and growth of translocated orchids. My results indicated that OMF are present on urban trees. However, presence, diversity, and distribution of OMF were primarily constrained by biophysical factors. Urban trees can support germination niches for native epiphytic orchids as well. I also found evidence of seed bank formation on epiphytic microsites. Based on the long-term study, majority of the species showed survival and positive growth. Overall, this thesis demonstrates how species-specific niche requirements can be evaluated / quantified and how the information gained can benefit ex situ, as well as in situ, orchid conservation.”
All are welcome