Raffles Science Institute Guest Lecture Series

Three lectures by distinguished guests from Kew Gardens and Natural History Museum London

All are welcome to attend these free talks. Please register here to RSVP.

Session 1

Date: 7th November 2012, Wednesday
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Venue: Raffles Institution (Y5-6) Lecture Theatre 3, Blk A Level 3

1. The Flora of Lord Howe Island – Origins and Diversity
By Dr Bill Baker, Head Palms Section, Kew Gardens

Lord Howe Island is a minute volcanic landmass (12 km2) in the Pacific Ocean that is home to 241 native plant species, more than 100 of which are found nowhere else. How did such extreme endemism arise in so small a space? What mechanisms promote species divergence in the face of the homogenising influence of ongoing gene flow? In this talk, we explore these questions using a text book case study ­ the Howea palms ­ and place this important case of sympatric speciation in plants in the context of the island’s flora as a whole and speciation thinking in general.

2. Evolution and Diversity of Pacific Island Psyllids
By Dr Diana Percy, Research Entomologist, Natural History Museum 

Psyllids are small, plant-feeding insects related to aphids, scales and whiteflies. They exhibit interesting modifications in morphology and biological habits related to living on different plant species. By using a combination of phylogenetic, ecological, and behavioural analyses, I will discuss how this insect group has diversified and evolved. I will demonstrate how this relatively little known insect group can provide comparative studies of speciation mechanisms as interesting and amenable as more well known model insect systems.

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Session 2

Date: 9th November 2012, Friday
Time: 4pm to 5pm
Venue: Raffles Institution (Y5-6) Lecture Theatre 3, Blk A Level 3

Global Palm Biogeography and the History of Tropical Floras
Dr Bill Baker, Head Palms Section, Kew Gardens

Palms are iconic of the tropics ­ they are common throughout the world’s rain forests, where they may account for a substantial proportion of standing biomass and function as keystone species, providing important ecosystem services and influencing their surroundings. Palms are evidently important to modern rain forests, but what can they tell us about the rain forests of the past? With their fossil record dating back to 90 million years, can they shed light on the origin of the rain forests themselves? Here, using a time-calibrated ‘tree of life’ for palms, we address these questions and obtain challenging answers that prompt reflection on perceived wisdom about the evolution of tropical floras.

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Getting to RI Y5-6 (previously known as Raffles Junior College

Directions: http://www.ri.edu.sg/main/contact/gettingtoraffles

Map of RI Y5-6: http://www.ri.edu.sg/files/Year-5-6-Map-06082012.jpg

To all visitors, please enter via Gate 3 and report to the Security Command Centre first. Thank You!

All are welcome to attend these free talks. Please register here to RSVP.

Please email abigayle[dot]ng[at]ri.edu.sg if you have any enquiries.

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