Seshadri’s research featured on

We are playing catch-up on news about Seshadri, one of the PhD students in the Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation Lab who is back in Singapore after spending the summer in India doing field work.


Seshadri’s master’s research on the effects of selective logging on frogs in the Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve was recently published in Biotropica and featured on the conservation website The reserve is part of the Western Ghats, which along with Sri Lanka is a biodiversity hotspot that is home to many threatened endemic amphibians. Seshadri found that negative impacts on  densities and community composition of anurans persisted in logged forest even 40 years after moderate logging was ceased.

The degradation from logging has led to the loss of ecological niches – particularly affecting stream- and litter-dwelling species. It appears that anuran assemblages in the region do not recover quickly from habitat degradation due to logging.


Seshadri will continue to work on threatened amphibians in the Western Ghats for his PhD dissertation, focusing on the ecology and behaviour of bamboo nesting frogs. His research will be supported by the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund and Chicago Zoological Fund, which are competitive grants awarded to conservation efforts to save species worldwide.

Congratulations Seshadri!

CITATION LINK: K.S. Seshadri (2014). Effects of Historical Selective Logging on Anuran Communities in a Wet Evergreen Forest, South India. Biotropica 46:615-623.

Thu 18 Sep 2014: 2.00pm @ DBS CR1 – Hou Chia Yi on Modelling infectious disease emergence in the context of conservation, economics and development

Department of Biological Sciences, NUS
Qualifying Examination

” Modelling infectious disease emergence in the context of conservation, economics and development”

HOU Chia Yi
Graduate Student,
Dept. of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore

Thu 18 Sep 2014: 2.00pm
DBS Conference Room 1 (S3 Level 5)
Supervisor: Asst Prof Roman Carrasco
Co-supervisor: John D. Mumford

All are welcome

Abstract: – Infectious diseases are emerging in real time, with the current epidemic of ebola in West Africa taking the headlines at more than 1,900 human deaths over the course of March to September 2014. Infectious disease emergence is a field that spans studies of wildlife, domestic animals, and humans, and is not only relevant in times like this, but also globally important in times of non-crisis. Overall, I will study the linkages between ecological and human systems to understand how these connections and interactions may affect risk of emergence, and ultimately how control and policy may fit in. Factors that are drivers of disease and dynamics may be affected by aspects and behaviors of both human populations and animal populations. The goal is to characterize and manage risk by examining connectedness, risk, and control allocations or actions that may be contributing to disease emergence. In order to capture how various factors may impact risk, this proposed PhD thesis approaches the modeling of the emergence of infectious diseases from multiple scales: global national, continental spatially explicit, regional, and landscape. In the first chapter, global official development assistance will be collated and compared with risk of emergence. The second chapter will look at Africa land use projections as a result of economic development and other ecological factors to understand how development activities may be managed to reduce future risk. The third chapter examines the trade connections in the Southeast Asian region, an area that may be considered a hotspot for biodiversity and development as well as disease emergence. In the last chapter, a case study in Thailand is proposed that follows human movement and connects it to mosquito sampling and clinical records of dengue and malaria in people.

Sheila Poo’s paper on parental care in the treefrog Chiromantis hansenae

Sheila (3)

Most people don’t think of frogs as being good parents, but in fact amphibians have a wide diversity of reproductive strategies, including guarding their eggs.

Sheila Poo, from the Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation Lab, just published her first paper entitled “The Adaptive Significance of Egg Attendance in a South-East Asian Tree Frog” in the journal Ethology.   For the past three years, she has been closely observing the treefrog Chiromantis hansenae in Thailand to find out about its life history and the role of parental care in larval survival.  Her study is the first to show that egg attendance by female C. hansenae plays a  critical role in offspring survivorship.

To find out more, get the paper here!

Sheila is currently in the field again in Thailand, hard at work collecting even more data.  Below is a short video with footage from her study site created by one of her field assistants, Adair McNear, giving a glimpse of what it is like working on these critters.


Congratulations Sheila, all the time you spent wading in ponds in the dark has paid off!


Sheridan & Bickford (2011) highlight possible effects of climate change on body size

Our former postdoc colleague Jennifer Sheridan, who just recently moved on to a new post at the University of Alabama and resident herpetologist David Bickford have recently published an article in Nature Climate Change entitled “Shrinking body size as an ecological response to climate change”.  

They compiled evidence of how warming temperatures may lead to various taxa becoming smaller.  The article is an interesting read and has been widely covered by the media including CNN, New York Times, Yahoo and hilariously, even The Onion.

David hopes that this perspective piece stimulates discussion and future scientific study in this area. Let’s hope that it does!

Conference Report: The 2010 Meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation

The Biodiversity Crew had a strong presence at the recent international meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC), the society which publishes the journal Biotropica.  Themed “Tropical biodiversity: surviving the food, energy and climate crisis”, the conference was held on July 19-23 in the Sanur Beach Hotel in Bali, Indonesia (the venue may explain why the many attendees from DBS!).

This was the first time that the annual meeting was held in Southeast Asia and it was a huge and successful event, with over 800 participants from 60 countries, and six parallel sessions of talks.  Before and after the course there were various workshops on scientific paper writing and experimental design and analysis, which some of the NUS crew attended. Even the Vice-President of Indonesia dropped in and gave a speech:

The Vice-President of Indonesia gives a speech

Here is the run-down of all the participants from DBS and their presentations:


Dr. Navjot Sodhi – “Conservation knowledge for all” symposium organizer

Dr. Richard Corlett  – Prospects for the Long-term Survival of Tropical Forest Biodiversity in Conversion Landscapes

Dr. Edward Webb – “Ecology and conservation of mangrove ecosystems along changing coastlines in Asia” symposium organizer

Dr. David Bickford – Impacts of Climate Change on the Amphibians and Reptiles of Southeast Asia


Dr. Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz – Asian Tapirs are no Elephants when it Comes to Seed Dispersal

Dr. Jennifer Sheridan – Shrinking Futures: Climate Change Effects on Body Size

Dr. Dan Friess – Large-scale Threats and Mangrove Dynamics in SE Asia

Dr. Mary Rose Posa – Biodiversity and Conservation of Tropical Peat Swamp Forests

Graduate Students

Lainie Qie – Dung Beetles on Small Islands are not Limited by Food Availability

Brett Scheffers – Global Biodiversity of Canopy Birds, Mammals, and Amphibians

Nanthinee Jeevanandam – The Phenology of Ficus grossularioides in Singapore

Alison Wee – Gene Flow of Avicennia alba and Bruguiera gymnorrhiza in a Fragmented Landscape

Daniel Ng – A pH/Temperature Synergism in Amphibians

Sheila Poo – Parental Care of Amphibians in Southeast Asia

Yan Chong Kwek – Extending Red List Assessments from a Herbarium Database

Enoka Kudavidanage

Grace Blackham

Undergraduate students

Anne Devan-Song – Evaluating the Impact of Reticulated Python Predation on the Fauna of Singapore

Yea Tian Teo – A Habitat Enrichment Project to Encourage Breeding of Kalophrynus pleurostigma in Singapore

Some of the BioD crew at the closing banquet

The Environmental Leadership Training Initiative (ELTI) joint initiative of  Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, which is based at DBS, also organized a symposium called “REDD’s Role in the Conservation of Tropical Biodiversity”.

There were also quite a few familiar faces: alumni who are pursuing their studies and careers in other pastures, but still doing great conservation research:


Lian Pin Koh – Conservation in Human- modified Landscapes: Sidestepping the Tradeoffs of Oil Palm Expansion

Reuben Clements – ‘Killer Roads’ Threatening Endangered Mammals in Southeast Asia

Giam Xingli – Native Latitudinal Range, and Growth Habit Predict Progression Through the Plant Invasion Continuum on a Tropical Island

Norman Lim –  Habitat Preference of The Sunda Colugo (Galeopterus variegatus) in Tropical Forests of Singapore

Janice Lee – Modeling Livelihood Impacts in the Context of Land Use Changes from Biofuel Expansion in Indonesia

Kang Min Ngo – Dynamics of a 50-Year Old Secondary Forest in Singapore

Current and alumni DBS grad students

It was great opportunity to reunite, meet and mingle with tropical conservation scientists from all over the world. All in all, a fun and fruitful meeting. You can find out more information about the conference at this website: ATBC 2010. Next year the annual meeting will be held in Tanzania – hope there will be another strong contingent from DBS there!

Of beetles and bosses on sabbatical

Conservation Ecology Lab denizens Janice Lee, Lainie Qie and Enoka Kudavidanage, otherwise known as the “dung beetle girls”, attended the Scarabnet meeting in Black Rock Forest, New York from September 25-29.  They met fellow dung beetle researchers, presented their work, and engaged in serious discussions on the ecology of their study organisms, asking questions such as “What is the best dung to use in our pitfall traps?”




After the conference, they traveled up to Harvard in Boston, Massachusetts to visit Navjot Sodhi (and harass his dog, Max). They are happy to report (and provide photographic evidence) that their adviser-on-sabbatical is doing well and is still hard at work in his tiny office down the hall from E.O. Wilson’s room.