Thu 26 April 2018: 10.00am [QE] – Kenny Chua on “Freshwater fish diversity and ecosystem functioning in Southeast Asia”

Department of Biological Sciences, NUS
Qualifying Examination

Freshwater fish diversity and ecosystem functioning in Southeast Asia

Speaker:    Kenny Chua Wei Jie (Graduate Student, Dept. of Biological Sciences, NUS)
Date:            26 April 2018, Thursday
Time:              10am
Venue:             DBS Conference Room  (S3 Level 5, #05-01)
Supervisor:     Asst Prof Darren Yeo Chong Jinn

Abstract: – The highly diverse ichthyofaunas of Southeast Asian fresh waters are threatened by land-use change, resulting in declines in species richness. Given the ecological importance of freshwater fishes, the loss of their diversity is expected to alter ecosystem functioning—i.e., pools and fluxes of biogeochemical resources—but these potential impacts remain poorly understood in Southeast Asia. To address this knowledge gap, I aim to elucidate the relationship between freshwater fish diversity, ecosystem functioning and land-use change in Southeast Asia.

By characterising and analysing the variation in functional traits of freshwater fishes, my work will investigate mechanistic links between freshwater fish diversity and the ecosystem functions mediated by them. I will also conduct both cross-sectional and longitudinal field studies across Southeast Asia to quantify the impacts of land-use driven fish diversity losses on the functioning of flowing fresh waters in the region. Since ecosystem functions ultimately underpin ecosystem services that are essential for human well-being, knowledge gained from this study will help illuminate the potentially far-reaching and reflexive consequences of anthropogenic biodiversity loss.

All are welcome

Jobs with the black soldier fly project: Project Manager (PhD) and 2 RA/LOs at NUS

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

Fri 13 Apr 2018: 10.00am [PhD defense] – Muhammad Izuddin Bin Mohamad Rafee on “Conservation of epiphytic orchids in urbanised tropical environments”

PhD Defense Seminar cum Oral Examination

ConservIzuddin.jpgation 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
Time:             10am
Venue:          DBS Conference  Room (S3 LEVEL 5, #05-01)
Supervisor:   Assoc Prof Edward L. Webb

Abstract – 

“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

 

Mon 23 April 2018: 11.00am [QE] – Lionel Ng on “Functional characterisation of coral species for enhancing reef restoration”

Department of Biological Sciences, NUS
Qualifying Examination

Functional characterisation of coral species for enhancing reef restoration

Speaker:              Ng Chin Soon Lionel (Graduate Student, Dept. of Biological Sciences, NUS)
Date:                   23 April 2018, Monday
Time:                   11am
Venue:                DBS Conference room  (S3 Level 5)
Supervisor:        Asst Prof Huang Danwei
Co-Supervisor:  Prof Chou Loke Ming

Abstract: – The global decline of coral reefs has necessitated active management strategies in the form of restoration and rehabilitation. Despite the emphasis on reinstating taxonomic diversity on degraded reefs, there is limited understanding on how such actions and the species used collectively contribute to reef ecosystem functioning. This could be addressed by adopting a trait-based approach to reef restoration, but this is hampered by a general paucity of available information on coral traits.

My thesis focuses on characterising the functional traits of reef stony corals to prioritise species for the rehabilitation of Singapore’s degraded reefs. Broadly, I aim to: 1) establish species distributions across Singapore’s coral habitats, 2) investigate species responses to bleaching, 3) quantify coral growth rate and skeletal density, and 4) examine stakeholder inputs towards reef restoration. The data obtained will be incorporated into a decision-making framework so that relevant and effective restoration strategies can be formulated.

The research is expected to enhance coral reef management in Singapore, and is applicable to other coastal cities seeking to optimise their habitat rehabilitation strategies.

All are welcome

Fri 20 Apr 2018: 2.00pm [QE] – Jenny on “Competitive interactions between scleractinian corals and macroalgae on heavily impacted reefs”

Department of Biological Sciences, NUS
Qualifying Examination

Competitive interactions between scleractinian corals and macroalgae on heavily impacted reefs

Speaker:              Jenny (Graduate Student, Dept. of Biological Sciences, NUS)
Date:                    20 April 2018, Friday
Time:                    2pm
Venue:                 DBS Conference Room II (S1, Level 3, mezzanine
Supervisor:          Assoc Prof  Peter A. Todd
Co-Supervisor:   A/P Suresh Valiyaveettil

Abstract: – Coral reef ecosystems are in global decline with macroalgae commonly replacing many scleractinian corals. On heavily impacted coral reefs where nutrients are elevated and herbivory is low, high levels of competitive interactions between corals and macroalgae are predicted. Macroalgae are able to suppress coral survival, growth, and reproduction, which can potentially lead to phase-shifts from coral- to algae-dominated reefs. The dynamics of coral–macroalgal interactions and the mechanisms involved, however, remain poorly understood.

My PhD thesis aims to (1) assess the spatial–temporal patterns of coral–macroalgal interactions on Singapore’s reefs, (2) examine the effects of macroalgal competition on coral physiology and microbiomes across various coral–macroalgal pairings, and (3) investigate the allelopathic effects of macroalgae as the potential mechanism mediating coral–macroalgal competition. My research will help improve our understanding on processes regulating coral–macroalgal competition and hence the long-term benthic community structure on impacted coral reef ecosystems.

All are welcome

Thu 12 Apr 2018: 3.00pm [QE] – Wong Boon Hui on “The evolution of enlarged chelicerae in the ant-mimicking jumping spiders”

Department of Biological Sciences, NUS
Qualifying Examination

The evolution of enlarged chelicerae in the ant-mimicking jumping spiders

Speaker:            Wong Boon Hui
Date:                  12 April 2018, Thursday
Time:                 Time: 3pm
Venue:               S3-05 DBS Conference Room
Supervisor:      Assoc Prof Li Daiqin

Abstract: – Exaggerated weapons have persisted through the animal evolutionary tree, having evolved on multiple occasions. This study is to examine the evolution of weapons, which are the enlarged chelicerae, in the ant-mimicking jumping spiders, Myrmarachne spp., through the analysis of its allometry, trade-off, compensation, and selection mode across the phylogeny, with focus on the family Salticidae, followed by the genera Myrmarachne. As we established the evolutionary history, I will proceed to evaluate the cost and benefit of developing and carrying such weapon. Food resources and moulting behaviour are proposed as the cost while sexual selection, comprising male-male competition and female mate choice, is proposed as the benefit.

As to verify enlarged chelicerae being an honest signal, which is limited by cost, I will conduct experiment to show that nutritional level of the spider diet will affect the size of the chelicerae. As the spiders only carry weapons after their final moult, I will also investigate whether weapon size affects moulting duration, as moulting is known to be an energetically costly process.

As for the benefit, male-male competition is tested by pairing size-matched males against each other in contest experiments to test whether chelicera size affect contest outcome. Pairs of males will then be presented to females to see if female spiders have a preference over males with different chelicera sizes. These two experiments will indicate whether enlarged chelicerae are employed as honest signal for resource holding potential (RHP) and/or as mate potential.

All are welcome

[Job] Full-time Internship (May to Aug 2018): Ecosystem Services in Urban Landscapes with Future Cities Laboratory, Singapore-ETH Centre

We are looking for a full-time intern to assist with field data collection and management for the ecological component of the Ecosystem Services in Urban Landscapes project from May to August 2018.

Project description

The Ecosystem Services in Urban Landscapes research project brings together a team of ecologists, environmental modellers, planners, and landscape architects, to investigate how different types of vegetation can be used to make cites safer and more comfortable for their residents. A core part of the project will be a large-scale field survey of vegetation in Singapore, that quantifies ecosystem service provision.

The work will involve setting up and maintaining a network of environmental monitoring equipment, including temperature sensors. Field surveys will be conducted to collect data on vegetation, soil functions, public perception on birds and urban greenery, canopy interception as well as other ecosystem services to examine ecological and physical processes. In addition to the intensive field surveys and laboratory work, the intern will also assist with data entry and management, and literature review.

Main responsibilities and duties

  • Field sampling of ecological and physical processes, including soil functions and canopy interception.
  • Field sampling and mapping of ecological communities including vegetation and birds.
  • Conducting surveys to study public perception on birds and urban greenery.
  • Maintaining environmental monitoring equipment at locations across Singapore.
  • Data entry and management, literature review and storing field data in a GIS framework.

Training and guidance will be provided.

Requirements

 The candidate should have / be

  • A current undergraduate, preferably in Life Sciences or Environmental Sciences, or related fields.
  • Able to work outdoors for extended periods of time.
  • Meticulous, responsible, communicative and able to work independently.
  • Keen interest in nature, environment and scientific research.
  • Willingness to learn new skills.
  • Able to commit to a minimum of two months period.

Desirable skills but absence is not a preclusion

  • Experience in ecological fieldwork and data collection
  • Prior exposure to GIS software and statistical analyses (ArcMap, QGIS, R etc).

Work location: 1 Create Way, CREATE Tower, Singapore 138602 (NUS University Town)

Duration: Full-time internship position for 2 – 3 months between May to August 2018

To apply/for more information, Interested applicants should submit a CV, highlighting relevant experiences and skills, a personal statement explaining why they are interested in this position, and availability period to Fung Tze Kwan at tze.fung@arch.ethz.ch. Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted for interviews.

The Singapore-ETH-Centre is an equal opportunity and family-friendly employer. All candidates will be evaluated on their merits and qualifications, without regards to gender, race, age or religion.

About Singapore-ETH Centre

The Singapore-ETH Centre was established as a joint initiative between ETH Zurich – the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and Singapore’s National Research Foundation (NRF), as part of the NRF’s CREATE campus. The centre serves as an intellectual hub for research, scholarship, entrepreneurship, postgraduate and postdoctoral training.

The centre currently runs two research programmes, the Future Cities Laboratory (FCL), followed by Future Resilient Systems (FRS). It is home to a community of over 100 PhD, postdoctoral and Professorial researchers working on diverse themes related to sustainable cities and resilient infrastructure systems. In the course of their work, researchers actively collaborate with universities, research institutes, industry, and government agencies with the aim of offering practical solutions.