Spot the monkeys!

In anticipation to Andie’s monkey talk next saturday at TEDxNUS, here’s a little primer to get you all into monkey-mode!

Thanks to the Jane Goodall Institute (Singapore), Andie does regular fieldtrips up to Panti, Johor to survey the banded leaf-monkeys there as a point of comparison for the Singaporean counterparts. Recently, while looking for the banded leaf monkeys, she came across a whole troupe of dusky leaf monkeys. these are close cousins to the banded leaf monkeys, and much less shy, but oddly, are not found in Singapore.

So aloof to Andie’s presence,  these duskies were going about their daily routine while she began to do her paparazzi. In the picture below are actually TEN dusky leaf monkeys!

dusky leaf monkeys hiding!Can you spot them all? To make things easier for you,
we’ve made a viewer to zoom in and scrutinize the picture here.


(If flash doesn’t work for you, click here for the large-res actual photo)

Elusive, aren’t they? Click here to reveal the monkeys!

Andie will have this and more in her talk come next saturday (26 March).



To Penang and back

When a group of 22 people agreed to make a trip to Penang, any person would have been skeptical about the fortune of the organizers and the island of Penang. All be said, Evo Lab has made a safe and sound return to Singapore after a trip to the quaint island. Penang gave us a lot to remember- from sights of the old heritage town, to beautiful nature and to savoury flavours that would whet anyone’s appetite.

Visits to Penang Hill, Botanic Gardens and Penang National Park led to a number of exciting sightings for a biologist. We saw a number of dusky leaf monkeys (Trachypithecus obscurus) and along with their orange colored infants in Penang Hill as well as the botanic gardens (see the last row of images). It was great to see the black giant squirrel in the canopy of Penang Hill. Check out some the photos:

George Town itself gives an entirely different experience to the tourist. Narrow streets, rows of chinese shophouses, and temples, along with colonial architecture gave a sense of the unique heritage of the place. As one of us mentioned, “everywhere you  look, there is a pretty building”.

We certainly did not leave our Singapore identity behind while going to Penang. Food, we enjoyed. We ate a lot. And we talked about it a lot. Laksas, Char kway teow and chendols would make the always-hungry bunch walk through the streets periodically.

The gluttony would lead to exciting bus rides. The entire city bus that was occupied by a single group, would course through beautiful sights of the city that everyone would enjoy except…

Penang trip was refreshing, and a good opportunity for us to spend some time together. What made it even more satisfying was that it turned out cheap , costing less than 200$ for 3 days! Thank you, Prof. Meier, and Denise and anyone who helped organize it. Besides the excitement that it gave us, the trip gave us chance to give a proper farewell to Sujatha (who was well prepared for the paparazzi’s attention), who has been with us for a long long time. Thank you, Sujatha, for everything. We will miss you, and wish you all the very best for the future.

Biodiversity Evening on NUS website

Congratulations to all four presenters for a job well done!

There’s a short write up of the “An Evening Dedicated to Conserving Singapore’s Biodiversity” event on the NUS website! You can access it here. It focuses on the work that Andie has been doing over the past 1.5 years with regards to the banded leaf monkeys.

For those who want to  see a bunch of photos of the excitement, the DBS website has devoted a page to them here.

Thanks a lot to all the honours students who put up their posters for the event! They certainly helped to attract a lot of positive attention.

Guess who’s working on reduviids and other bugs?

Confronted with a reduviid-like bug that Ngan Kee tossed on my table, JC Mendoza, with whom I was having an urgent meeting (I may add) wondered if it could be a triatomine instead of my suggestion. Googling, this familiar mugshot appeared:

Alumni Hwang Wei Song and his partner in crime Zahang Guanyang have taken up residence in Christiane Weirauch’s Heteropteran Systematics Lab at the University of California Riverside. We don’t know yet what it is as we did have to get to work but said specimen will await Wei Song’s attention in future at the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research.

Stop complaining about the blurry picture y’all, specimen’s in the museum!

Sea wall “construction site” outside Frog lab

Yes, the ruckus this past week is caused by Marine Lab's Lynette Loke's seawall project. Construction materials have been appearing outside the Frog Lab and over time, a mini-seawall factory appeared. Lynette told me another 180 tiles would arrive this evening.

But she has found help – the handy kungfu hands of a botanist no less, have been recruited to do the deadly dead of smashing tiles! How we love to see honours students hard at work – it motivates the rest of us!

Enoka in Sri Lanka – “A day in the field”

Enoka is roughing it out in the field in Sri Lanka doing her field work. During one IM conversation – she bouncing around in a truck with a flashlight in her mouth and me comfortably at home, I persuaded her to send me this.

So now for a glimpse of “a day in the life” of a grad student in the field – she did a nice, quick job!

Bicky is happy about his new lab t-shirt!

WHY is he so happy?

Update, 09 Oct 2009:

Front Panel

Back panel

Sam Howard explains,

“The back panel is Rhacophorus pardalis from a photo Dr Bickford took and has (sort of inadvertantly) become the lab emblem. The front panel is a regional map showing gross predictors of the effect of climate change on herpetofaunal species over the next 50(ish) years. It is by no means highly accurate and is a very simplified model accounting for only temperature, precipitation and elevation.

This t-shirt was designed to highlight that probable climate induced impacts which are going to hit these groups hard. Unfortunately the reality is likely to be worse than the simple model once factors such as continued deforestation etc. are accounted for.”

So he’s happy he is helping to get the message across but definitely not about the situation. Battle on comrades!

Staff, students and alumni at the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore @ Pandan mangrove

Over three Saturdays in September, some 40 organisations hit the beaches and mangroves around Singapore as part of the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore in an effort to count, categorise and collect marine trash.

This data which is reported to the international coordinator, Ocean Conservancy, to create awareness, effect policy change and provide material for public education. Around the world, 70-100 countries take part annually

The Singapore programme is in its 18th year and I have been national coordinator since 2000 as a result of seeing so much trash in the mangroves! After more than ten years of mangrove cleanups, I finally turned my attention to Sungei Pandan mangrove in 2008. This tiny remnant strip nearby campus has accumulated a heavy load of trash over the years.

Partnering department alumni, staff and students who anchor this cleanup is Wildlife Reserves Singapore (Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and Jurong Bird Park), our co-founding ICC partners at this site – and they count some of our alumni amongst their staff!

Here are some photos from the cleanup featuring some familiar faces – the rest are at the Habitatnews Flickr album and WRS photos are on Fotki. Data results are on the ICCS webpage.

Lots more out there so join us at Lim Chua Kang (Jul/Aug) and Pandan (Sep) next year. Just join the mailing list on the ICCS webpage and I’ll alert you next year.

Pandan mangrove

Getting ready at 7.45am at the Jalan Buroh bus-stop

Getting ready – two of the ‘Indpendents’ and Adrian Loo (alumni)

Weiting (hons) taking a break from her thesis in the mangrove core!

Robert (postgrad) too worked in the depth of the mangrove

Yea Tian (hons) kept up with the mangrove core team to record data

Trina (hons) was determined to be mosquito-proof

Joelle (staff) and Yandi (alumni) removing a mattress

Biswajit (alumni/WRS) wading in

Anne and Trina (hons) and Yandi (alumni) rescuing a volunteer

Anne Devan (hons) in action!

Yea Tian (hons) and Xuiling (2nd year) weighing and recording trash
with the hard working ‘Independents’

DBS Crew with Independents

Sivasothi (staff) with Biswajit and Desmond (alumni/WRS)
and WRS coordinator Charlotte.

Glove cleaning – recycling the welder’s gloves for next year
Alison Wee (postgrad and ICCS Penang liason), N. Sivasothi (ICCS Coordinator)
and Teo Yea Tian (hons) facing camera