Raffles Museum news
Research and education at the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore.
05 Jul 2007 - Raffles Museum News has shifted to http://news.rafflesmuseum.net
Thu 05 Jul 2007
Raffles Museum News has shifted - update your bookmarks!
Category : news
05 Jul 2007 - Raffles Museum News is shifting to a Wordpress engine. The URL, http://news.rafflesmuseum.net now points to a new site.
The feed also remains the same: http://feeds.feedburner.com/RafflesMuseumNews.
This is the third version of the Raffles Museum news site, the first was prepared as html webpages (2000 - 2004), the second, this blog used Samizdat, a geeky format based on PHPosxom and Blosxom made simple (2004 - 2007) and now we are using the free blog engine Wordpress. Wordpress enthusiast and Raffles Museum volunteer Kenneth Pinto (NUS CIT) dropped in to help with the transition; thanks Kenneth!
I have also handed over the mangement and running of the site to Chua Keng Soon and Martyn Low. Have fun lads!
Mon 25 Jun 2007
Mr Yeo Keng Loo, RIP
Category : people
Mon 25 Jun 2007 - This morning, Greasi was shocked to read the obituary announcement that the family of Mr Yeo had put in The Straits Times. She asked Rahim and Makcik to verify the notice then had Heok Hui come up to the office. There he called 'Ah Yeo's' home and his sister informed him that Mr Yeo had passed away suddenly during his Saturday badminton game (23 Jun 2007). It was a very quick way to go but he was only 52 and all of us grieve for him.
We will be visiting the wake at Block 56 Sims Drive S (9380056), tel: 6742-1230. The cortege will leave on Wed 27 Jun 2007: 12pm for cremation at Mandai Crematorium.
I wrote to our museum volunteers and friends earlier to inform them. I cited the interns blogs as snippets from their interactions with him capture a glimpse of him.
"Dear Toddycats and old friends,
One very telling remark amongst the posts reveal just how chatty Mr Yeo has been with our young museum volunteers and interns:
"Another interesting mission Siva set me and Danliang on today was to collect bird specimens. He was informed of a donor who decided to donate her uncle's collection. We went along with Mr Yeo. It was a rickety ride in a mini-lorry to Bukit Batok. We were pretty much clueless about where block 227 was, but three brains and 6 eyes set things right.
I myself am glad for the time I have had with him, particularly on specimen retrievals (the highlight must be the Tekong dugong), field trips (the last was crabbing at Ivan Polunin's house and the Mera Lodge stream), and plotting about gallery and education programmes."
Mr Yeo has always been kind, helpful and friendly with the people he had come across and several friends responded by immediately by email, phone and SMS after I sent alerted them by email this morning, soon after I found out. Here are a few of their thoughts:
"Thanks for the info. That's really sad. He was a damn nice person always ready with a smile. I don't think I have ever seen him without him smiling warmly. And it was always easy to strike up a conversation with him and he'd always have good stories to share about BioD and the museum. "
Alvin Wong (former hons/MSc student, Systematics & Ecology Lab, Dept Biological Sciences) says,
"Mr Yeo is always quiet and unassuming but always kind and helpful to students in the museum and on field trips. he's a repository of info about specimens stashed away in some obscure corner."
Ria Tan (WildSingapore.com & Raffles Museum Honorary Museum Associate) says,
"I first met Mr Yeo when I spent hours photographing the specimens from the first Chek Jawa transect at the museum. It was my first time doing anything like this and he was patient in showing me how to do it right (and to survive the formaldehyde).
Mr Yeo crabbing in Ivan Polunin's stream, 15 Jun 2006.
Chim Chee Kong (former Raffles Museum Snakehunter) said,
"I remembered Mr Yeo as the very nice, kind, patient and helpful gentleman who helped me in locating specimens a couple of years ago."
Loh Lih Woon (former hons student, Systematics & Ecology Lab, Dept Biological Sciences) said,
"I'm shocked and dismayed. He was a helpful and unassuming man who made the madness of my hons year that more bearable, exactly 10 years ago! Well those whom God love die young(er) they say. Perhaps this cliched sayingÂ could serve as solace.
Airani S (Senior Volunteer Project Manager, Raffles Museum):
"Mr Yeo is a very kind man and always accommodating to last minute requests for help. He was a shy man of very few words but as I got to know him better, he became more chatty and began to share his dreams and plans post-retirement!
Peter Ng (Director, Raffles Museum):
"It came as a shock when I was told this morning that he had passed on - I have known him for over 27 years - since he joined as a fresh staff and I was still an undergrad working in the then ZRC. I remembered how he was full of energy and passion for his work with specimens, and especially crabs and related invertebrates. He took care of the crustacean and invertebrate collections for most of his career, and was also the key man in many of the museum's local field collections and field work.
As we shared tales of Mr Yeo with his six siblings and the rest of the family, they have been getting to know this other side of him - his museum curator's work, love of animals, exhibition presentation skills, love of field trips and because he was such a worrier, his unexpected sense of adventure!
Fri 22 Jun 2007
Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, impact factor
Category : pub
See Hee dropped me a note yesterday:
"The SCI impact factor ranking for 2006 is now published and the impact factor of the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology has increased from 0.422 for 2005 to 0.533 for 2006."
ISI Journal Impact Factor
Slowly and steadily!
Thu 21 Jun 2007
Mangrove Dollies! By Patrick Grootaert & Igor Shamsev
Category : research
Long-legged flies (Order Diptera, Family Dolichopodidae) are the passion of Belgian entomologist Patrick Grootaert.
In Feb 2005, we announced his stay with the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research. Patrick, who is Head of the Department of Entomology at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, was on sabbatical leave here from 1st March 2005 to 28th February 2006. Explaining then that his research interest was the taxonomy, systematics and sexual behaviour of Empidoid flies, we had no idea of the limelight he would cast onto this group!
Photos of dollies Marcus Ng
As a warm up of what lay ahead, his paper with Igor Shamsev was published shortly after in April 2005. There he had described two new species - C. nigripennis was based on a holotype collected from Sungei Buloh and C. singaporensis, from a holotype caught in Chek Jawa.
Almost a year later, we had exciting news. But we saved a "little" titbit for the newspapers and on 6th February 2006, The Straits Times (Singapore) ran a story that screamed "150 new species of flies found."
Two weeks later at his farewell seminar, he revealed that he lay awake at night wondering how he would finish describing all those new species and that within his insect traps there were probably more species in other groups waiting to be discovered! I remember feeling thrilled that even more mangrove insects were being described and dismayed that we could lose many to extinction.
Patrick went from reverence to amusement, cracking the crowd up when he revealed the names he had provided ifor new species - he had named dollies after various members of the research community and some had very interesting etymology!
By now, in the biodiversity community in Singapore at least, the term "dollies" was firmly etched in our minds as dipterans in familiy Dolichopodidae. This was no mean feat, for the flies had to supplant the otherwise popular Dim Sum Dollies!
In late May 2007, the latest in a series of papers was published. It is the "Revision of the genus Elaphropeza Macquart (Diptera: Hybotidae) from the Oriental Region, with a special attention to the fauna of Singapore," by I. V. Shamsev & P. Grootaert. Zootaxa, 1488: 164 pp., 31 May 2007 [pdf]. In this monograph, 59 new species of hybotid flies in the genus Elaphropeza are described - remarkable since only 79 were known of this group before!
'Of the 51 new species only 43 have been given a name.' And amongst the names of new species are names of familar places and people that Patrick had energetically proclaimed, at that seminar in February 2006! They include:
Marcus Ng gets lyrical and pens "Names on the fly," The annotated budak, 14 Jun 2007.
"The Belgian entomologist Patrick Grootaert has been busy surveying habitats in Singapore and Southeast Asia in recent years, seeking tiny flies that mostly thrive only in moist, muddy and mangrove-infested swamps. Little is known about them other than their existence and until Grootaert came along, many lacked names. Often, their presence is indicative of habitats that are pristine and consequently most at risk of degradation from human activities.
Wed 20 Jun 2007
Marcus Ng on Wong Siew Te's Sun bear talk
Category : bejc
Marcus Ng came away with a new understanding about the Sun bear's biology and a grim understandding about the fate of the the sun bear in Malaysia and the South East Asia, after attending Wong Siew Te's talk on "The ecology and conservation of the sun bear in Malaysia."
"About halfway through his presentation, bear researcher Wong Siew Te showed a duotone slide. Pictured was a small sun bear cub, with a rather rotund body and bright, pleading eyes. It was trussed up like a chicken.
Read "An unbearable future," by Marcus Ng. The annotated budak, 20 Jun 2007.
Tue 19 Jun 2007
Wong Siew Te on emaciated Sunbears
Category : bejc
"Speaker Siew Te made an observation about the critical role figs trees play. In 1997/8, the region experienced the most severe El Nino event. This led to the local extinction of fig wasps (due to direct impact and the haze). In the absence of pollinators in 1999, fig trees aborted their fruits [he cited Rhett Harrison's work], and there was a famine in Sabah and Kalimantan, at least (this is where there were sun bear researchers).
Sat 16 Jun 2007
Urban Escape episode featuring Raffles Museum on TV Mobile this week
Category : media
Since Wed 13 Jun 2007, friends have been telling me that they have seen an episode of Urban Escape featuring the Raffles Museum on TV Mobile - they caught the show on a television screen in a bus. It was a vague memory and after hunted the blog archives, I realised why. This episode was first broadcast around April 2005. The series explored lesser known places in various parts of Singapore with hosts Jeassea Thyidor and Timothy Nga. The museum was fetured in the episode on the western parts of Singapore.
I haven't seen the episode myself but I do recal they shot scenes in the Public Gallery and the Wet Collection. All the comments say it was quite a nice episode, so I do hope I catch it one day. According to the schedule episodes of Urban Escape will be will be shown again at 6pm and tomorrow at 10am, 10.30am, 3pm, 8pm and 9pm. No wonder so many of my friends have seen it this time - much more than the original broadcast.
Fri 15 Jun 2007
Richard Mayden (Cypriniformes Tree of Life) visits
Category : visitors
He is also the leader of the Cypriniformes Tree of Life (CTOL) project, which declares this very interesting statement:
"In this initiative, researchers from many countries with a shared passion and in-depth understanding of these incredibly diverse and interesting fishes are investigating their morphological and molecular variation.
Thu 14 Jun 2007
Mon 18 Jun 2007: 1pm - Wong Siew Te on Sun Bears of Malaysia
Category : bejc
"The ecology and conservation of the sun bear in Malaysia"
Wong Siew Te
Mon 18 Jun 2007: 1pm - 2pm
NUS Dept Biol. Scis. Conference Room
Host - N. Sivasothi
About the talk - In first half of the talk, Wong Siew Te will talk about the ecology and behavior of sun bear and his research works on sun bear in Sabah, Malaysia. The second part of the talk will focus on the threats and other conservation issues facing by the sun bear in Malaysia.
About the speaker - Wong Siew Te was born and raised in Penang, Malaysia. He earned a Diploma in Veterinary and Animal Science from National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, Taiwan, and both Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Wildlife Biology from University of Montana, USA. He is now a Ph. D candidate in Fish and Wildlife Biology, University of Montana, and conducting his doctorate field study on Malayan sun bears (Helarctos malayanus) and bearded pigs (Sus barbatus) in Sabah, Malaysia. Wong studied the ecology of Malayan sun bears in a rainforest of Malaysian Borneo as his M.Sc. thesis project [online pdf of his thesis]. The study contributed our knowledge on many ecological aspects of sun bear and promoted various conservation issues related to Bornean rainforest.
Beside bears and pigs, Wong's interest also include the other medium and large mammals especially carnivores, the interactions between wildlife and tropical rainforest ecosystem, and mast fruiting in Southeast Asian. Wong was appointed as the first co-chair of the Sun Bear Expert Team for the IUCN/SSC Bear Specialist Group from 2002-2005. He is now member of IUCN/SSC Bear Specialist Group and Pigs, Peccaries, and Hippos Specialist Group.
Did you know? - The sun bear, Helarctos malayanus (Raffles, 1821) was first described by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles (type locality "Sumatra") in:
Raffles, T. S. 1821. Descriptive catalogue of a zoological collection, made on account of the honourable East India Company, in the island of Sumatra and its vicinity, under the direction of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, Lieutenant-Governor of Fort Marlborough; with additional notices illustrative of the natural history of those countries. Transactions of the Linnaean Society of London, 13:239â€“274.
Mon 11 Jun 2007
Hugh Tan takes over from Benito Tan as Deputy Director
Category : news
Message from Raffles Museum director, Peter Ng,
"With effect from 11 June 2007, A/P Prof Hugh Tan will take over as Deputy Director of RMBR, succeeding A/P Benito Tan who retires from NUS in July 2007."
Photos by Lin Yangchen (NParks), taken at the Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium II.Read more ...