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
Sun 29 Jan 2006
More on Paedocypris progenetica
Category : pub
Down at Heok Hui's lab, I looked at the fish darting about in the tank. I understood why they initially dismissed these as fish fry - the fish fit the part! Eventually it was the females bearing eggs that led to the realisation that this was a really small fish! And it is a 7.9mm female that holds the record. Heok Hui clarified that the reddish-bellies of the live fish were simply a sign they had just been fed and not to mistake that for body pigmentation!
The fish are available in the aquarium trade and there are enthusiasts all over the world who rear such blackwater fish, fully aware that they may become all but extinct in the near future.
The threatened peat swamp forests of Southeast Asia
My early years in Peter's lab, in between looking for some rather elusive otters, was spent in explorations of Malaysia's peat swamps. It was a real eye-opener for me to find a thriving diversity of colurful small fish emerge in the dark-colured but clear acidic waters. And the dawning and distressing realisation that most people were unaware about the existence of this rich ecosystem.
And diverse it was -
"The pH of such swamp waters can be as low as 3 -- about the same as vinegar. "Until recently, peat swamps were assumed to be hostile, acidic places where the biodiversity was low. But that's because no one had actually jumped in."
In the years that followed, however, most of these places simply disappeared. Large tracts of peat swamp forest were loggged, even as new records and species were being discovered. See:
And the logging and draining of peat swamps appear to have escalated the annual forest fires that began to plague the region in the late 80's:
"Some 800,000ha of forest and plantations burned in Indonesia last month. But it wasn't just any forest. It was peat swamp forest, in particular. At the same time, some 160ha of peat forest was also ablaze in Kampung Penadah, Pekan, in Pahang. It took two weeks for the firemen to douse the flames.
- "Vital to save peat swamps." By Tan Cheng Li. The Star, The Star, 11 Nov 1997 - link.
Singapore's loss of biodiversity seems to be a forecast for a similarly catastrophic loss of biodiversity in Southeast Asia. Will any of the lessons learnt translate into solutions?
I can only hope that this brief media interest will help highlight existing efforts of individuals and agencies attempting to promote the conservation of these marvels of biodiversity that ultimately affect the environmental health of this planet.
See also Navjot S. Sodhi & Barry W. Brook, 2005. "Southeast Asian Biodiversity in Crisis." Cambridge Tropical Biology Series, 192 pp.
Updated, 29 Jan 2006 - one irrelevant link removed.