Poster Abstracts

TOPIC: ECO-LITERACY


1. Nature is good for kids: A literature review
Vilma D’ROZARIO, Susanna HO & Arlene BASTION
National Institute of Education (Nanyang Technological University); & Ministry of Education

This poster outlines the benefits of direct experiences with nature on children’s health and well-being. The restorative effects of nature on children’s self-esteem, sense of self, negative stresses and depression are described. Evidence from the literature will show that children perform better educationally, engage in more creative play, have greater concentration, and engage in effective cognitive functioning in natural settings when compared to urban settings. Nature as school is also described, with examples of Udeskole from Denmark and Forest Schools from the U.K., where schools seek educational value in the outdoors and augment childhood with nature encounters that benefit health and well-being. This literature review concludes that contact with nature is supportive of healthy child development, in the cognitive, social and emotional domains.

 

2. Community in Nature for schools: encouraging our young to act for biodiversity
WOO Pui Min Henrietta
National Parks Board (NParks)

Community in Nature (CIN) is a national movement to conserve Singapore’s natural heritage spearheaded by the National Parks Board (NParks). It brings together all of NParks’ nature-related events, activities and programmes with the aim of connecting, engaging and inspiring diverse communities to help conserve our biodiversity. With close to 400 schools in Singapore, students and teachers collectively are a major stakeholder in biodiversity conservation. Nature education is therefore essential in creating awareness and promoting the appreciation of biodiversity, with the ultimate aim of building a lasting foundation of ecological literacy in schools. NParks has and continues to reach out to many schools through its myriad of nature education programmes under CIN. These encompass one or more of the following components of habitat enhancement, citizen science, and outreach – encouraging our young to act for our natural heritage in these different facets of biodiversity conservation.

 

3. The diversity, spatiality, and legality of human-ecosystem conflict in Singapore, and the study of encroachment on prohibited nature areas
LEE Lijin Audrey & N. Sivasothi
Otterman Holt, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore (NUS)

The human-ecosystem conflicts in Singapore were inventorised by recruiting incidents from members of Biodiversity Roundtable of Singapore, NUS Toddycats’ volunteers, social media platforms, and opportunistic field surveys. A total of 22 conflict types were identified, much higher than reported in official news media. These conflicts occur in terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments, and are subject to various laws and managed by different agencies, which make it difficult for public participation in reporting incidents. Following this, encroachment on prohibited nature areas was examined in greater detail to reflect the intricacies of just one of conflict. It revealed both night and day encroachment on restricted and activity-specific trails by a diverse group of stakeholders. Information onsite and online which transgressors reported to be insufficient were examined and details for improvement are proposed.

 

4. The type and status of human-macaque (Macaca fascicularis) interactions at MacRitchie Reservoir Park and strategies to manage conflict
LAI Chui Ting & N. Sivasothi
Otterman Holt, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore (NUS)

The long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) is native to Singapore and can be found in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and other forested areas. Due to increasing proximal interactions between humans and macaques, human-macaque conflict has risen and is reflected by the increasing number of macaque-related complaint calls and macaque culled. This study aims to determine the type and status of human-macaque interactions in the south-eastern area of MacRitchie Reservoir Park and assess the physical infrastructure and Mushroom Café so that conflict management strategies can be suggested. Focal animal sampling of human-macaque interactions indicates that humans are significantly more affiliative towards macaques and macaques are significantly more neutral towards humans. Thus, the current status of human-macaque interactions appears not to pose a problem. However, due to the presence of the Mushroom Café which is serving as a permanent indirect food source and a hotspot for conflict, the status may quickly escalate into conflict. Hence, conflict management strategies should focus on educating park visitors on correct behaviour, utilise the status model and ethogram for continued assessment and ensure proper management of the Mushroom Café.

 

5. Marine trash in Sungei Mandai Kechil mangrove: abundance, composition and distribution
CHEONG Ka Min Delicia, Jose Christopher E. MENDOZA & N. Sivasothi
Otterman Holt, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore (NUS)

Marine trash pollution is a threat to marine biodiversity. Marine pollution studies have addressed the amount of trash in the coastal and oceanic environment, and quantitative surveys and cleanups have been conducted to reduce the impact from shorelines, mostly beaches. While mangrove forests are at least similarly impacted, few studies address the problem of marine trash there. In this study, the abundance, composition, and distribution of marine trash in Sungei Mandai Kechil mangrove and its relationship with topography and mangrove root density were studied. Although there was no association between mangrove root density and marine trash density, results from the marine trash survey and the marine trash recruitment study conducted during the Northeast monsoon season showed that marine trash is more likely to be deposited in areas with higher elevation. An examination of marine trash profiles of beach and mangrove sites in Singapore showed differences in marine trash profiles. This could be due to the physical characteristics of the habitats, hydrodynamics and frequency of cleanups. To contribute to the long term conservation of the Sungei Mandai mangrove, results from this study can also inform the approach for cleanups in the future.

 

TOPIC: MARINE ENVIRONMENT


1. The aerial plants of mangrove forests: The unappreciated botanical partners that have important functional roles
WONG Wei San1, SHEUE Chiou-Ron2, Jean W. H. YONG1
1Singapore University of Design and Technology (SUTD)
2Department of Life Sciences & Research Center for Global Change Biology, National Chung Hsing University, Taiwan (NCHU)

Little attention has been given to the aerial plants (epiphytes, mistletoes and climbers) of our South East Asian mangrove forests. Epiphytes, mistletoes and climbers generally have a wide range of hosts, including both mangrove and non-mangrove host trees. In the mangroves, by using other host plants to perch high above the ground, mangrove epiphytes avoid the salt water sprays and attain favourable light conditions for growth in the dense canopy. Ferns, orchids and rubiaceous ant-plants constitute the majority of mangrove epiphytic plant life forms. Unlike the parasitic plants, epiphytes do not acquire water and mineral nutrients from the hosts. Hence, only the mistletoes appear to be more selective in colonizing and parasitize certain mangrove trees and shrubs. Conversely, epiphytes, and also climbers, are less ‘picky’ with their phorophyte host and several species of epiphytes and climbers can colonize a single host tree.

Unlike epiphytes and mistletoes, climbers are plants that twine and curl round other plants, mainly trees while remaining rooted to the ground. What will be the fate of aerial plants in the mangrove forests in view of increasing anthropogenic disturbances and climate change? Will climate change associated environmental factors exacerbate the mortality of many aerial plants associated with their mangrove host trees – both from the main and back mangroves? An on-going effort is now in progress to compile the extant and extinct mangrove-linked aerial plants from past herbarium records, literature reviews and contemporary field surveys around South East Asia. Some salient observations of our current research is discussed.

 

2. Diet of the mangrove horseshoe crab, Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda (Latreille, 1802), in the tidal streams and mudflat of Mandai Kechil
LENG Jun Mun Germaine, N. Sivasothi
Otterman Holt, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore

[abstract to be updated]

 

3. Singapore’s seawalls: biodiversity and public perception
Hazel PEH Huiqi & Peter TODD
Experimental Marine Ecology Lab, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore (NUS)

Coastal defence structures such as seawalls are constructed to protect urban infrastructure and shores from erosion. Research in recent years has focused on ways to ameliorate the negative effects that these artificial structures have on the intertidal biodiversity. However, it is important to understand the public’s perspective in order to ensure that ecological interests match that of social interests. A questionnaire was developed to identify the public’s knowledge of seawalls and their perceptions towards seawall biodiversity. The driving forces that could have influenced their choices were also analysed. Several factors including household income, nationality and level of environmental consciousness were found to be associated with respondents’ knowledge and perceptions of seawall biodiversity. Since a large number of respondents expressed interest in increasing biodiversity on the seawalls, this study also looked at ways in which seawall biodiversity can be enhanced. This involved an analysis of abiotic features that potentially influences family richness on the seawalls around Singapore. Since increasing biodiversity was both in the interests of the public and of public interest, environmental managers and coastal engineers should work together to construct seawalls that serve their function in coastal protection, while maximizing biodiversity in line with the needs of society.

 

4. Giant clams as potential counteractors of eutrophication and associated algal blooms
ANG Chiam Foong Ambert, Peter Alan TODD, ZHAO Wan Ting & NEO Mei Lin
Experimental Marine Ecology Laboratory, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore (NUS)

Eutrophication is an increasing concern for tropical coasts, negatively impacting fisheries, tourism, as well as the economy. Coastal development is a major contributor of allochthonous nutrient input, which can lead to undesirable algal blooms. Biological control is one method to counteract algal proliferation. Giant clams can potentially counteract eutrophication in coral reef ecosystems due to their large size and the ability to filter microalgae from the water column. To date, however, no research has quantified this important role. Our study investigates the clearance efficiency of juvenile Tridacna maxima when exposed to two species of microalgae monocultures (Isochrysis sp. and Tetraselmis suecica) at three levels of algal densities: eutrophic density, feeding density and natural density. Test clams will be maintained in mini Vortex Resuspension Tanks (mVoRTs), that are designed to keep particulates suspended in the water column, for five hours. To calculate clearance rates, algal densities (initial and final) will be enumerated using flow cytometry. Preliminary results suggest that T. maxima filter feed readily and could exert significant top-down regulation on reef phytoplankton. Giant clam populations are facing decline from contemporary anthropogenic impacts and the extirpation of these potential biological controls could negatively affect coral reefs.

 

TOPIC: FRESHWATER ENVIRONMENT


1. Distribution and characterization of coastal streams on mainland Singapore
ZHANG Yuchen & N. Sivasothi
Otterman Holt, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore

Coastal streams provide diverse microhabitats and niches but many of them have been modified for the purpose of water supply and flood control. Their conservation and restoration need detailed studies on stream characteristics, which are lacking in Singapore. Thus, this study aims to establish an inventory of coastal streams on mainland Singapore, characterize stream status, and evaluate their restoration potentials. Coastal stream identification found a rapid declining of coastal streams and currently there are 20 coastal streams remaining on mainland Singapore. The main possible underlying reasons are conversion to reservoirs and coastal reclamation. Visual habitat assessment categorized the coastal streams into five categories; eight streams fell under the category ‘Excellent’ and the other 12 coastal streams fell under the category ‘Poor’, ‘Fair’, and ‘Good’. Non-canalized coastal streams and partially canalized coastal streams were characterized according to both physico-chemical and biodiversity parameters. Overall, according to both visual habitat assessment and characterization of coastal streams, five restoration priorities were assigned to the 20 coastal streams. This study was only a small part of the coastal stream management work, cohesive national coastal stream conservation and restoration plan is urgently needed.

 

2. Diet of Cichlasoma urophthalmum, an established non-native fish in Singapore
Jeffrey KWIK, Darren YEO, TAN Heok Hui, LOW Bi Wei, LIEW Jia Huan & CHEN Ming Li
Freshwater and Invasion Biology Lab, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore (NUS)

Spread and impacts of non-native species (NNS) are among the major anthropogenic effects that are threatening biodiversity. Singapore’s native freshwater fishes, for example, which are mostly restricted to forest streams and freshwater swamps are potentially threatened by various NNS that thrive in connected modified freshwater habitats including reservoirs and urban canals. One such NNS is the Mayan cichlid, Cichlasoma urophthalmum, a highly invasive species native to parts of southern Mexico and Central America, which has established populations in Florida, Thailand, and Singapore. The species is established and widely-distributed in urban waters around Singapore. As literature suggests that the broad diet of C. urophthalmum contributed largely to its invasion success elsewhere, we investigated the diet of local C. urophthalmum to validate this association using gut content and stable isotope analyses. Our results indicate that C. urophthalmum is a generalist with an omnivorous diet that exhibits an ontogenetic dietary shift between juvenile to adult. Similar to the situation in Florida and Thailand, the broad diet of C. urophthalmum is probably a major factor in its colonization success in Singapore. Local populations of C. urophthalmum are likely to persist and possibly undergo range expansion, facilitated by the interconnected nature of Singapore’s fresh waters and Singapore’s favourable tropical climate.

 

3. Invasive species risk assessment for non-native freshwater fishes in Singapore
Joleen CHAN, Darren YEO & ZENG Yiwen
Freshwater and Invasion Biology Lab, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore (NUS)

Biological invasions have created detrimental impacts in freshwater ecosystems. As non-native freshwater species are economically beneficial yet potentially invasive, risk assessments are needed to identify and prevent the import of potentially invasive species. Freshwater fishes are of particular concern owing to their economic and ecological importance. Given Singapore’s susceptibility to the introduction and establishment of non-native freshwater fishes and lack of stringent fish import regulation, Singapore presents a suitable model site for the development of risk assessments in Southeast Asia where such assessments are lacking. Both quantitative (statistical method) and semi-quantitative (screening kit) trait-based risk assessments were performed and compared to determine species-attributes important for establishment and to assess the applicability of the screening kit to Singapore. Climate match, invasion history, absolute fecundity, trophic level and use in aquarium are attributes found to be associated with successful establishment. This finding could be used to refine the screening kit as it was found to be less predictive and inapplicable to Singapore, yet potentially adaptable for use by authorities (e.g., policy makers, managers) to identify high-risk species whose import should be restricted. Given the prospective benefits of risk assessments in preventing the import of potentially harmful invasive fishes in Singapore, such assessments are recommended for use in the region.

4. Investigating Singapore’s native and introduced freshwater biodiversity
KWANG Yee Wen Yvonne & Darren YEO
Freshwater and Invasion Biology Lab, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore (NUS)

The Freshwater and Invasion Biology (FIB) Laboratory was set up in 2011, with one of its aims being to addressing the gap in our knowledge of ecology and biology of local fresh waters. The lab concentrates on three distinct research areas that often overlap or are linked by the central theme of fresh waters: freshwater ecology and biodiversity; aquatic biological invasions; and freshwater decapod crustaceans. This poster provides synopses of these three areas of aquatic biodiversity research in Singapore, which encompass fundamental as well as applied aspects (including communication, interaction, and collaboration, with management and conservation organisations at local or international levels).

 

TOPIC: TERRESTRIAL ENVIRONMENT: PLANTS & INVERTEBRATES


1. A survey of macrofungi in Singapore 
Siti Maimon Hussin & Amy CHOONG
Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore (NUS)

Very little is known about macrofungi in Singapore. This final year project is a preliminary study of the fungal biodiversity in Singapore. Local parks are surveyed at regular intervals and specimens collected are brought back to the laboratory for further chemical tests and for viewing under microscopes. Two month’s data will be presented.

 

2. The autecology of Caryota mitis in Singapore
Randolph QUEK & N. Sivasothi

Otterman Holt, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore (NUS)

Caryota mitis is a common plant in Singapore, both as an ornamental and as a native species in the secondary forests of Singapore. While it has been known that it plays a particularly important role in the diet of the common palm civet, Paradoxurus hermaphrodites, very little else is known about its autecology. This project aims to find out more about the autecology of Caryota mitis, such as its abundance and spatial distribition, pollination ecology, fruiting ecology and faunal interactions. It appears that Caryota mitis is a disturbance/edge exploiter and thrives well in such areas. In addition, it is likely pollinated by both wind and insects and is able to set a fairly large number of fruits. There are also a number of species that interact with Caryota mitis of which was previously unknown, largely comprising of invertebrate faunal interactions.

 

3. A baseline study on the haemoparasites of reticulated pythons (Malayopython reticulatus) in Singapore
LIN Shuyan & Jose Christopher E. MENDOZA
Environmental Studies Programme, National University of Singapore (NUS)

Parasites can play an important role as drivers of host ecology and life history. This study provides baseline information on prevalence and parasite load of haemoparasites in reticulated pythons (Malayopython reticulatus) in Singapore. Blood smears of M. reticulatus captured from a mark-and-recapture program during 2006–2009 were examined to determine prevalence and parasite load; and to obtain morphometric data of haemoparasites seen. This is the first study on the haemoparasites of M. reticulatus and also the first report of Hepatozoon from this species of snake. Parasite presence and load were tested against individual snake characteristics of sex, length, weight/length and qualitative body condition to determine if haemoparasites were harmful and if any trait predisposed snakes to haemoparasite infections. Prevalence and parasite load were relatively low. Transmission of haemoparasites among M. reticulatus was apparently limited, but a possible area of concern with high prevalence was identified at the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari. It was concluded that haemoparasites were unlikely to pose a threat to the conservation of M. reticulatus in Singapore although there was some negative relationship between parasite presence and weight/length ratio. Two morphospecies of Hepatozoon seen were also identified as potential new species.

 

4. Assassin bugs: biodiversity, phylogenetics and diet 
YEO Huiqing, Rudolf MEIER & HWANG Wei Song
Evolutionary Biology Lab, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore (NUS)

Reduviidae (assassin bugs) are a diverse group of predatory bugs that has received little attention. We only have the species descriptions for most species, while little is known about their relationships and natural history. The total number of species in Singapore is also unknown and there is a lack of user-friendly identification resources. In this project, modern techniques are utilised to address these issues and fill the knowledge gaps. An up-to-date checklist of reduviids in Singapore is compiled.  COI barcoding was carried out and an online morphological identification tool using species pages as well as illustrated identification keys was developed. The most extensive phylogeny for Oriental Salyavatinae is presented, testing for the monophyly of several taxa. The Velitra clade is recognized as a possible sister-taxon of Salyavatinae. Gut dissections and metabarcoding were carried out on five Lisarda species in Singapore. The diet profiles consist mainly of termites, thus confirming Lisarda spp are termite specialists.

 

5. Orthoptera in Singapore: diversity, new species and predation
TAN Ming Kai, Rudolf MEIER & HWANG Wei Song
Evolutionary Biology Laboratory, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore (NUS)

Orthoptera are a diverse (ca. 27,000 described species) and ecologically important clade of insects whose Singapore fauna is studied here. Despite some recent progress in understanding the diversity of Singapore’s orthopterans, there are still numerous outstanding issues. This study has three goals. First, a species list and image database for Singapore’s species is generated. Based on 1,498 specimens and 240 publications, a checklist comprising 245 orthopteran species is compiled which led to the generation of an image database that includes 240 high-resolution images for 115 species that were uploaded onto “Animals and Plants of Singapore” website. Second, the taxonomy of Micrornebius scaly crickets is reviewed and three new species are described. In addition, integrative taxonomy was used to confirm that two morphologically cryptic species of Eucriotettix are different species based on COI sequences and ecological data. ITS2 sequences similarly suggest the presence of two species despite paralogy that is masked by concerted evolution. Third, anecdotal, observational information on orthopteran diets was complemented with new data that were obtained via metabarcoding. A diet assessment of a predatory katydid (Hexacentrus unicolor) was carried out by sequencing the gut content of 28 individuals. Collections of five gut contents yielded six prey items comprising of Orthoptera, Diptera and Lepidoptera.

 

TOPIC: TERRESTRIAL ENVIRONMENT: BIRDS & MAMMALS


1. A baseline population study of the Asian koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus) in Singapore, and perceptions towards the species
POON Shi Yi Edrea & Frank RHEINDT
Avian Evolution Laboratory, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore (NUS)

The Asian koel population in Singapore has increased considerably since the 1990s. Despite being a common avian species, there have not been local studies focused it. To facilitate this, baseline information on its population and distribution needs to be obtained. Line transect surveys were conducted across Singapore to collect data from auditory and visual detections of Asian koels. Estimated population sizes for Asian koels in Singapore were 9997 ± 1925 and 3157 ± 802, derived using simple line transect sampling and distance sampling respectively. Limitations present in both methods led to significant differences in the two estimates. Residential and park areas reported the highest koel densities (20.44 ± 2.567 km-2 and 39.33 ± 10.53 km-2 respectively). Also, there has been some discussion, especially in recent years, about the Asian koel’s calls on various media platforms. Negative views calling for population management of koels have since brought forward some positive comments. To determine if these were representative of the population, a public perception survey was conducted. The results showed no widespread concern regarding disturbances caused by Asian koel calls. Overall, the results of this study have various implications for urban planning, such as landscaping and potential population management of Asian koels.

 

2. Population genomics of the Javan myna (Acridotheres javanicus) in Singapore
LOW Weijie, Kritika GARG, Per ERICSON, Martin IRESTEDT, Gabriel & Frank RHEINDT
Avian Evolution Laboratory, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore (NUS)

The Javan myna (Acridotheres javanicus) was introduced to Singapore in the early 1920s and has since become the most abundant avian species on the island. Despite management recommendations informed by a slew of studies in the early 2000s, its population has nearly doubled in the past decade, posing an even larger pest problem. This study examines the current state of Javan myna population genetic structure and connectivity using a wealth of Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) markers generated through a modified double digest restriction associated sequencing (ddRAD-Seq) protocol and mapping against a newly sequenced reference genome. Population genomic analyses revealed near panmixia and a lack of spatial structure across the dataset. This suggests that current localized management strategies are ill-equipped to control the Singaporean population.

 

3. Reproductive behavior of mynas in Singapore – recent changes in response to urbanization
LEE Jia Wei & Frank RHEINDT
Avian Evolution Laboratory, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore (NUS)

The previous in-depth study of both the Javan myna (Acridotheres javanicus) and common myna (Acridotheres tristis) in Singapore was done 26 years ago. With the rapid changes to Singapore’s urban landscape, the ecology of these birds, which are well adapted to these landscapes, are likely to change as well. This study examines the changes of the Javan myna ecology over 26 years, in addition to analyzing the reasons that sparked a rapid decrease in the common myna population. The data is obtained from nest surveys as well as behavioural observations conducted, where significant changes were found regarding the preferred nesting locations of Javan mynas. In addition to documenting the changes to the ecology of the Javan myna, population management options are also discussed in this report.

 

4. Genetic diversity of a tropical rainforest understory bird in an urban fragmented landscape
Keren R. SADANANDAN & Frank RHEINDT

Avian Evolution Laboratory, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore (NUS)

Analyzing the genetic diversity of a population can be useful in identifying some of the silent effects of habitat fragmentation. In this study, four mitochondrial loci of the near-threatened short-tailed babbler (Pellorneum malaccense), an understory rainforest bird, are examined and contrasted between a highly fragmented population in Singapore and populations from elsewhere in the Sundaic region. The fragmented Singaporean population is shown to be genetically impoverished with less than a fifth of the intra-population genetic diversity shown in a comparable sample from Borneo within intact forest. Differences in haplotype diversity among Singaporean sites of occurrence suggest that there may be extremely poor population-genetic diversity and connectivity among Singaporean sub-populations. These findings highlight the importance of connectivity in maintaining population genetic diversity in urban tropical forest patches.

 

5. Northern boobook (Ninox japonica) in Singapore
Keren R. SADANANDAN, TAN Jian Xiong David, Philip D. ROUND & Frank RHEINDT
Avian Evolution Laboratory, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore (NUS)

DNA analysis of four presumable brown boobooks Ninox scutulata collected in Singapore revealed that two actually belong to an unnamed mitochondrial lineage of northern boobook N. japonica from Taiwan. This lineage has been recorded year-round in Taiwan an thus may represent a partial migrant. Our records establish the occurrence of this clade as a migrant in the peninsular Malaysian region and are the first official record of this species in Singapore. Recent captures and photographs of Northern boobooks from Thailand may equally pertain to the Taiwan clade. Little is known about the biology of the Taiwan lineage, and more research may uncover species-level differentiation in vocalizations and morphology.

 

6. Differential distribution of ground-dwelling small mammals across old and young secondary forests and scrublands in Singapore
TAN Yi Ting Chloe, Erica Sena NEVES, N. Sivasothi & Ian MENDENHALL

Otterman Holt, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore (NUS)

Large-scale deforestation has left Singapore’s landscape with small remnants of native forest, and patches of regenerating forests scattered throughout the island. Habitat modification and urbanization affects the distribution of ground-dwelling small mammals, but this has received limited scientific attention. In this study, the species richness, evenness, abundance and biomass of ground-dwelling small mammals (Orders Rodentia, Soricomorpha and Scandentia) in nine forest and adjacent open-country patches were examined, involving three of the dominant forest types (old, young secondary forest and scrubland). Comparisons were made among the three forest types, and between the forested and adjacent open-country areas. The effects of microhabitat variables were also analyzed. 60 baited traps were set at each site and checked twice daily for five consecutive days. A total of 140 individuals comprising of eight species were caught – 42 Rattus tanezumi, 21 Suncus murinus, 20 Rattus annandalei, 20 Mus castaneus, 15 Rattus norvegicus, 14 Tupaia glis, 6 Rattus tiomanicus and 2 Rattus exulans. Species are associated with a range of forest types, influenced by their microhabitat affinities. Small mammal community compositions in forested patches and adjacent open-country areas influence each other. Introduced species dominate scrublands and young secondary forests. Old secondary forests host predominantly native small mammals, and remain as an important refuge.

 

7. The distribution, microhabitat use and activity pattern of the slender squirrel (Sundasciurus tenuis) and sympatric species in forests of Singapore
NG Xin Yi Iris & N. Sivasothi
Otterman Holt, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore (NUS)

Deforestation in Singapore has resulted in catastrophic extinctions, but small mammals are still widely distributed in Singapore’s forests. Sundasciurus tenuis is one such species, a native tree squirrel that is found in primary and mature secondary forests in Singapore. It has an important ecological role as a seed disperser and predator, and can influence forest regeneration, but little is known about its ecology. In this study, S. tenuis is studied along with two other native arboreal forest small mammals, Callosciurus notatus and Tupaia glis. The distribution, encounter rates, and estimated interspecies home range overlaps are determined for the three species in four primary and mature secondary forest sites, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Singapore Botanic Gardens Rainforest, MacRitchie Reservoir Forest, and Lower Peirce Reservoir Forest. The vertical distribution, microhabitat use and activity pattern of the three species were also determined and compared. Thirty trail transects were established in the four sites, and each transect was surveyed for three rounds on foot for point sightings of the three species. A total of 463 identified sightings were recorded over a total covered distance of 84.4 km – 123 C. notatus¸282 S. tenuis and 58 T. glis. All three species were found in all study sites, with C. notatus encountered the most often for all sites. Estimated home range overlaps were most common between C. notatus and S. tenuis. The two squirrel species were also found to overlap extensively in their vertical distribution and microhabitat use. All three species exhibited diurnality. Therefore, S. tenuis, C. notatus and T. glis occupy different spatial and temporal niches in the mature forests, but the niches of the two squirrels overlap extensively. This study establishes baseline information for S. tenuis, as well as C. notatus and T. glis, and recommendations to deepen the ecological understanding of these arboreal species are made.

 

8. Ranging behaviour of the Hindhede Macaca fascicularis (Raffles, 1821) troop, during the closure of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Singapore
Joys TAN, N. Sivasothi, Amy KLEGARTH & Crystal RILEY

Otterman Holt, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore (NUS)

The long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) is a native species in Singapore, which can thrive well in the human-modified environment. However, the overlap of its home range with humans has resulted in conflict, which often escalated to culling. Management solutions that are more effective and humane are possible but best require site-specific ecological information for an optimal implementation at each site. The ranging behaviour of the Hindhede M. fascicularis, which is often implicated in conflicts with the residents of the Hindhede Estate, was thus studied. The study was conducted during the closure of the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve Visitor Centre to determine the ecology and behaviour of the troop during minimal human presence. Counts of troop size ranged from 25 to 45 from October 2014 to March 2015 and are consistent with a habituated and provisioned group. As of March 2015, the troop consisted of 25 individuals: two adult males, 11 adult females, four sub-adult males and eight juveniles and infants. Focal and scan samplings suggested a north-western shift of and increase in the home range in 2014. A higher proportion of time was spent on locomoting and resting than in 2012. All occurrences samplings of the human-macaque interactions at the Hindhede Estate suggested that the human-macaque interface was largely benign, hence does not appear to pose a problem currently. Therefore, conflict management strategies should focus on addressing indirect interactions such as house intrusion and raiding, while maintaining a close monitoring of the human-macaque interactions at the Hindhede Estate. This is the first study that focused on a resident M. fascicularis for evaluation of site-specific conflict management strategies.

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