Professor Wen-Hao Chou, 2015 Keynote Speaker

ICOM NATHIST warmly welcomes Professor Wen-Hao Chou, Academic Deputy Director of the National Museum of Natural Science as a keynote speaker at the 2015 International Conference.

Before joining the Collection and Research Scheme, Professor Chou was an exhibit coordinator largely involved in the museum’s planning and development work in 1981 – 1986. Upon the completion of the exhibits and other facilities in Science Center and the Space Theater, he became the Associate Curator of both Exhibits and Herpetology in 1986, and was able to allocate some efforts to establish the herpetological collections and the collection management system for the museum. He continued to conduct the Life Science Hall and the Global Environment Hall exhibits during the period of 1986 – 1993, and was appointed the Chair of the Exhibits Department in December 1993. It was not until 1995, when he transferred to the Collection and Research Division, that he was finally able to devote all of his energy to research and the materials are wide, including whales, birds, and terrestrial amphipods in addition to frogs and reptiles.

In 1997, earning a PhD from the Tunghai University under the supervision of Dr. Jun-yi Lin greatly increased Prof. Chou’s connection to the conservation of frogs in Taiwan. His thesis aimed to illustrate the community structure of Taiwan tadpoles by looking at their external morphology and internal features, identifying the ecomorphological guilds, and differentiation of microhabitats. Through intensive fieldwork, he recognized that several species were facing varying risks of extinction. Conservation strategies to the species concerned were proposed and actions are continuing.

In recent years, Prof. Chou manages extensive research to gain a better understanding of the ecology, systematics, biogeography and evolution of various Taiwan species. Research topics include genetics, morphology, distribution database, and acoustic features of Rana sauteri, R. taipehensis, and Buergeria japonica; parallel shift in diet and venom composition, and causation of DNA geographical variations in bamboo viper Trimeresurus stjnegeri; describing new species and discussion on the phylogeny of the Indirana frogs; investigation of grass lizards (genus Takydromus) in eastern Asia, and, vertebrate assemblages and their biological interactions in a subtropical forest.

In the face of growing threats due to rapid loss of habitats, Prof. Chou’s research endeavors an amalgamation of recognizing evolutionarily significant units, initiating detailed distribution database, and knowing their reproductive ecology, to yield a formation of finer conservation planning. As a museum curator, in addition to collection and research, serving the academic societies, developing exhibits and educational programs that cause public attention to the importance of biodiversity are an ongoing interest.