Symposia & Workshops

For more information on the eleven symposia and two workshops held at SAGE 2017 please click onto the section titles.

I Biodiversity

Symposium: Patterns of Biodiversity
Organizer: Hendrik Freitag (
Keynote speaker: Peter Ng (Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, National University of Singapore)

Complex biogeographic processes and a beneficial tropical climate have made SE Asia an outstanding region in terms of biodiversity at all levels. The archipelagic character of the region with the Wallacean transition zone between two major biogeographic realms has fostered the evolution of an overwhelming proportion of endemic wildlife of terrestrial, freshwater and marine life forms. Several subregions are recognized as "Biodiversity Hotspots", not only due to their rich biological diversity, but also as being under particular threat of losing large parts of its natural, biodiversity-supportive ecosystems. We are far away from having the majority of the species recorded, described and named, despite of the fact that thousands of new taxa are published from the region every year. Even less data are available on the distribution, ecological requirements and services, and the life history of most organisms from the region, especially for underexplored, but partly mega-diverse invertebrate phyla. Contributions highlighting new findings that contribute substantially to the knowledge of SE Asian biodiversity from genetic to ecosystem levels as well as showcase presentations of the sustainable conservation of biodiversity are welcome. Please see also the Natural History Stories session (below), which is targeting less extensive studies.


Session:  Natural History Stories
Organizer: Thomas von Rintelen (

SE Asia harbors many fascinating organisms with interesting and sometimes outright weird traits. This session will offer you the opportunity to present natural history miscellanea that will not warrant being delivered in a full-length talk and would otherwise go unreported at the meeting. If you have an observation or results on some interesting facet of an organism or a group or organisms - phenotypic traits, behaviour, distribution, etc., - tell us about them in a short 5 min presentation.


Symposium:  SE Asian Molluscs: Biodiversity, Biogeography, Ecology and Evolution
Organizers: Ayu Nurinsiyah, Liew Thor Seng (
Keynote speaker: Somsak Panha (Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand)

Southeast Asia is a global hotspot of biological diversity due to its exceedingly high species richness and many endemic taxa. More than 150 years of research on biogeography and evolutionary biology have shed some light on the evolutionary and ecological processes that determine the biodiversity and biogeographic patterns in the region. Mollusca are the second most diverse animal phylum after Arthropoda and an excellent model group to study the role of abiotic and biotic factors for the origin of biodiversity in freshwater, terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Their evolution can be studied at different levels from a very fine (e.g. a few meters) to a regional geographical scale (e.g. a several thousand kilometers) in basically all kinds of habitats from mountain tops to the deep sea. This symposium aims to achieve an overview of global knowledge of Southeast Asian molluscs and identify where gaps in research should be filled. Thus, we invite researchers and malacologists from South East Asia and beyond to present their research on the biodiversity, biogeography, ecology and evolution of molluscs in the region.


Symposium:  Biogeography and Evolution of Lepidoptera in South-East Asia - classic hypotheses and new insights
Organizers: Djunijanti Peggie, Christoph Häuser ( )
Keynote speaker: Rienk de Jong (Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, Netherlands)

Southeast Asia has a long history of research on butterflies and moths, not least through the seminal collecting efforts by A. R. Wallace. Despite the impressive record of studies on the region's Lepidoptera, there are still significant gaps in our knowledge and neither is the real species diversity of SE Asian Lepidoptera known nor their biogeography and evolution comprehensively understood. Nevertheless, in recent years many new insights on the evolutionary biology and systematics of the butterflies and moths have emerged.

The aims of this symposium are: (1) to identify the main approaches of Lepidoptera research recently conducted or proposed within SE Asia; (2) to gather new insights on the current issues; and (3) to discuss and develop joint mechanisms and schemes for integration of available data and studies that can be adopted for the advancement of knowledge and also the conservation of SE Asian Lepidoptera. Thus, we would like to invite researchers and interested students working on butterflies and moths to present their research on the biodiversity, biogeography, evolution, and conservation of Lepidoptera in the region, and to discuss possible new joint projects and ways of better integrating existing knowledge and ongoing research on Lepidoptera.


Symposium:  Ancient lakes - natural laboratories for integrated studies on geological and biological evolution
Organizers: Björn Stelbrink, Hendrik Vogel (
Keynote speaker: James Russell (Brown University, RI, USA)

Ancient lakes have long been recognized as hotspots of biodiversity. In Southeast Asia, only few lakes have the potential to be considered as ancient lakes, i.e. being older than 100,000-500,000 years. These include the Indonesian lakes on Sulawesi (Malili lakes and Lake Poso), but possibly also Lake Lanao on Mindanao (Philippines), Lake Inle in Myanmar and Lake Lugu on the Yunnan Plateau (China). These lakes house a tremendous freshwater diversity, but their age and geological evolution are not well understood. However, understanding the factors that potentially triggered diversification and speciation and thus gave rise to this extraordinary endemic diversity is of major importance in an evolutionary context.
This symposium aims to integrate both geological and biological research in order to provide new insights into the geological and environmental evolution of particular ancient lakes and their flora and fauna that is beneficial for both disciplines. The very recent ICDP funded Towuti Drilling Project certainly provided a starting point for linking geology and biology in Southeast Asia and may show whether and how such drilling projects could be expanded to other candidate ancient lakes in Southeast Asia. Knowledge transfer between these two disciplines is essential in order to establish an interdisciplinary framework on ancient lake studies and for developing sustainable conservation strategies for these lakes and their inhabiting biota.


Symposium:  Biodiversity and Health
Organizers: Alexandra Muellner-Riehl, Jan Schnitzler, Ludger Wessjohann (
Keynote speaker: Nina Rønsted (Natural History Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen)

Plants and fungi play an important role in healthcare worldwide, with about 25% of modern prescription drugs containing at least one compound derived or patterned after substances derived from flowering plants. With an estimated 350,000 species, angiosperms provide a rich potential for finding new lead compounds for drug development. However, research so far has largely focused on single species, on only a few metabolites of medicinal importance, and/or on specific commercial applications only, e.g. drugs, colours, aromas, or cosmetics. The aim of this symposium is to bring together researchers who are working on plants (and/or fungi), microrganisms and animals, and are interested in a broader picture of chemo-biodiversity, phylogenetic relatedness, and a biogeographic perspective. We will welcome contributions shedding light on the distribution of chemodiversity both across taxonomic and biogeographic scales and on the predictive power of phylogenies.


Workshop:  Initiation of ASEAN Malacological Society - towards a better understanding of molluscan diversity in SE Asia
Organizers: Ristiyanti M. Marwoto, Aileen Tan Shau Hwai (

Interest in malacological research in Southeast Asia has been growing over the past decade, as exemplified by the participation of about 50 malacologists from Southeast Asia participated in the last World Congress of Malacology (, with dozens of presentations about research on the biodiversity, biogeography, ecology and evolution of molluscs in the region. Hence, we propose the initiation of an ASEAN Malacological Society and invite regional malacologists as well as foreign researchers who are involved in research on molluscs in SE Asia to this workshop in order to gather, discuss and get involved in moving forward respective studies. We hope that the initiation of this regional society will facilitate more intense research collaboration between different countries in South East Asia and beyond.


II Biogeography

Symposium:  Understanding the impact of the glacial maxima on the biogeography of Sundaland and insular SE Asia
Organizer: Alice Hughes (
Keynote speaker: Rafe Brown (University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA)

Glacial maxima had a profound effect on modern patterns of biogeography across Southeast Asia, changing not only the distribution of biomes, but due to changes in oceanic currents regional and global climate systems. Furthermore these states have affected the region for approximately half of geo-physical time, thus understanding how regional distributions varied during this period is essential to understanding current patterns of ecology and distribution.

This session aims to combine contributions from a diverse array of disciplines to garner perspectives on the biotic configuration during glacial maxima in Sundaland and insular SE Asia. The palynological and paleontological record will be combined with predictive models and modern day genetics to try to understand landcover and communities across the region and their relevance for modern ecological research. Specific hypotheses such as the savannah corridor hypothesis in Sundaland will be explored through the integration of various forms of data and relating this to modern species distributions, as well as the impacts of the glacial maxima on affinities and distributions in the Philippines, which are an ideal system to explore how changing island configuration and connection relates to modern patterns of species distributions and ecology.


Symposium:  Hominin dispersal into Southeast Asia - Evidence, paleoecological framework and modelling
Organizer: Hanneke Meijer (
Keynote speaker: Julien Louys (Australian National University, Canberra)

Hominins have been present on the Sunda Shelf since for at least one million years. New discoveries in the Philippines, Flores and other islands of the Wallacea illustrate that they were able to spread into regions far earlier than previously expected. The paleoecological preconditions of such large scale dispersal events are, however, not well understood. To improve and support reconstruction efforts, it is required to integrate knowledge contributed by a variety of disciplines, paleoanthropology, paleoecology, landscape reconstructions as well as the dynamics of paleoclimate. New modelling approaches, e.g. in climate modelling, agent-based modelling and the study of dynamic paleoenvironments provide innovative means for an integration.

In this symposium, we would like to provide an overview of recent advances in the relevant fields, thereby linking empirical evidence, efforts to reconstruct paleoecology and paleoenvironments, and modelling approaches.


Symposium:  Origins of the South East Asian Rainforest
Organizer: Robert Kooyman (
Keynote speaker: Robert Morley (Palynova, Woodstock, UK)

It has been said that earth history does not determine life's pattern, but merely constrains it to a degree that is variable both across time and across space. For Southeast Asia the assertion has been made that we are dealing with an area where these constraints seem to be low and common patterns of biotic cannot be traced with any confidence.

While it is certainly true that the South East Asian region has a complex paleo-history, we suggest there are some common patterns related to the rainforests of the region that we can interpret with confidence. This symposium seeks to explore some of those patterns across global and regional scales in relation to paleo-botany, paleo-geography and rainforest origins.


Symposium:  How Natural and Human-mediated Species Dispersals Shaped the Biogeography of Island Southeast Asia
Organizers: Laurent Frantz, James Haile, Greger Larsen (
Keynote speaker: Philip Piper (Australian National University, Canberra)

Island Southeast Asia (ISEA) is an ideal laboratory to study evolution. Millions of years of plate tectonic and climate change have shaped species dispersal patterns and resulted in the complex contemporary biogeography of ISEA. Fluctuating patterns of species distributions in the region have also been influenced by more recent, human induced, dispersals. Retracing the source and the means of dispersal of species in ISEA is key, not only to understand the mechanisms responsible for generating biodiversity in the region but also to understand its peopling and its cultural development, all of which are essential for conservation.

Over the last decade, recent advances in fields such as genetic, morphometric and geologic analyses have provided the necessary resolution to study the mechanisms underlying species dispersal in ever-greater detail.

This symposium will highlight recent scientific advances in our understanding of both natural and human-mediated dispersals of biodiversity throughout ISEA over geologic and anthropogenic time-scale.


III Conservation

Symposium:  New Biomonitoring Techniques for SE Asia
Organizers: Catharina Karlsson, Rudolf Meier (
Keynote talk by: Catharina Karlsson, Rudolf Meier (National University of Singapore), Reuben Clements (Universiti Malaysia, Terengganu)

Managing and conserving biodiversity in Southeast Asia is dependent on having accurate qualitative and quantitative information on biodiversity. Information gathered with classical survey techniques can now be complemented with information obtained with new techniques that show great promise in delivering cost-effective, qualitative and quantitative information. This symposium will showcase how acoustic monitoring, camera trapping, and different applications of next-generation-sequencing yield new and critical information. All three techniques are passive, thereby having minimal negative impact on habitats, and collect data on multiple taxa. Acoustic monitoring stations have the capacity of collecting data from vocalizing taxa as well as collecting environmental data. Camera trapping often reveals the presence of unexpected species while next-generation-sequencing can be used to analyze the DNA signals that are virtually ubiquitous.


Symposium:  Conservation Genetics of Fauna and Flora across the Southeast Asian Gateway
Organizer: Evy Arida (
Keynote speaker: Noviar Andayani (Wildlife Conservation Society Indonesia, Bogor, Indonesia)

Molecular DNA data have become a standard tool in the biological sciences and are increasingly easy to generate at an unprecedented level due to the advances in sequencing technology (Next Generation Sequencing). These data are also highly applicable for solving problems in the conservation of fauna and flora. Habitat loss, land degradation, and fragmented populations due to climate change are but a few of the problems faced when seeking to conserve Southeast Asia's species diversity. On top of these direct pressures on populations, indirect causes of reduced population size may arise from development of infrastructures, poaching, and illegal trades of wildlife and flora. In this regard, government authorities and decision-makers should make informed decisions based on cutting-edge genetic and genomic analyses as to the current status of populations, especially for protected species and/or in protected areas. Additionally, population data on endemic species, cryptic species, and those endangered by human activities should urgently be generated to develop science-based strategies and plans for conservation.

This symposium is aimed at updating current trends in the field of conservation genetics as well as current advances in genomics for conservation purposes across Southeast Asian region and the surrounding areas. The rationale for this is that the application of science in general and conservation genetics in particular in the population management of fauna and flora in this region can promote a systematic conservation planning by national authorities.


General interest

Workshop:  How to proceed towards progress and sustainable cooperation in biodiversity research in Southeast Asia?
Organizer: Evy Arida (

Many, if not most of biodiversity research in Southeast Asia have put two sides of the cooperating partners into bargaining positions of providers and users. The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization is a regulating global agreement that applies to providers and users of biodiversity in terms of genetic resources. In the context of collaborative research on the biodiversity of Southeast Asia, genetic materials are often sampled as data and for further utilizations, such as materials for bioprospecting. The progress to achieve results may be slowed down for negotiation reasons, including rights of access to benefits, whereas some initial intentions of cooperation may be turned down due to disagreements.

The workshop is a forum to exchange ideas, share knowledge, and learn best practices of collaborative research on biodiversity in Southeast Asia. A discussion on the matter should shed light on the technical difficulties of conducting research on biodiversity in Southeast Asia and on ways to improve the current state of research towards progress as well as a sustainable cooperation.


Course:  Fundamentals of GIS for ecology, and species distribution modeling workshop
Instructor: Alice Hughes (

This workshop will take place after the conference from September 4-8 and an extra fee of 40 € (c. 42 US $ / 550,000 IDR) applies to cover the costs for catering. Please select this course when registering! Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come-first serve basis.

GIS skills are essential to modern day ecologists. No matter what their specialism ecologists have had to acknowledge that species, and ecological phenomena occur in the real world, and that the relationships exist between environmental factors and other species can only be properly understood by acknowledging the spatial relationships and therefore by using GIS techniques. Species distribution modeling techniques also represent powerful and popular tools to extrapolate from the known records of a species distribution to predict the potential distribution of a species under various conditions, and better understand factors underlying these distributions.

The workshop aims to; A) train students in fundamental GIS tools and techniques using a number of different available software programs; B). teach students how to design and implement studies that utilize GIS techniques, and avoid potentially confounding biases; C). discuss the use of predictive modeling techniques to spatially project species distributions, using various approaches. D). use predictive approaches to project species distributions under changing conconditions and: E). use various approaches and spatial statistics to interpret and analyse the results. A detailed description of the workshop with information on the course schedule and structure is available here.


LIPI and Museum fü Naturkunde

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