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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Author/Editor: N. Sivasothi
Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore.


Made with Samizdat,
based on PHPosxom,
based on Blosxom.

05 Jul 2007 - Raffles Museum News has shifted to http://news.rafflesmuseum.net

Mon 21 May 2007

RBZ Supplement No. 15 (30 Apr 2007): "An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Singapore"

Category : pub

The Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, NUS published The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement No. 15, "An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Singapore," in collaboration with the Bird Ecology Study Group.

The 179-page monograph by Wang Luan Keng and Christopher J. Hails was published on 30 April 2007. It is the 15th in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement Series. The tome is

"Dedicated to Lady Yuen-Peng McNeice, for her generous contribution towards the study of birds."

Retail price: S$25 (including GST). Available for sale at the Raffles Museum office and Nature's Niche (Singapore Botanic Gardens Shop). Participants of the Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium II tomorrow will be able to buy the issue at $20 between 12pm-1pm.

Wang, L. K. & C. J. Hails, 2007. An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Singapore. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement No. 15: 1-179.

Abstract. - This annotated checklist is the third major compilation for Singapore. It lists the current status of all bird species ever recorded in the wild in Singapore. A total of 404 species have been recorded, including 44 species which are now extinct or have not been recorded for the last 50 years. Some of the latter species have been recorded again as non-breeding visitors.

There are now 342 species that occur naturally in Singapore and another 22 species that were introduced by man. Fifty-eight families of birds are represented. There are 121 resident species with proven breeding records and 21 other presumed residents. One hundred and fifty-four species are winter visitors and/or passage migrants, with another 25 species listed as non-breeding visitors and 21 others that occur in Singapore as vagrants.

Census data since 1991 shows that the total number of birds in Singapore has declined by 40 % and the number of species has declined by nearly 17 %. The most abundant bird species is a migrant, the Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva).

The most important site in terms of bird population is Sungei Mandai, an unprotected mudflat and mangrove ecosystem while Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and Pulau Ubin are important in having the highest diversities of birds. The loss of mudflats through reclamation, damming of estuaries, and canalisation of rivers had resulted in a decline in waterbird density and diversity as shown in the Annual Waterfowl Census. The current total shorebird population in Singapore is only 4,000 – 5,000 birds, a vast decrease from the large wintering population of 10,000 birds at a single site in 1985, the Serangoon Estuary.

Forty-one of the 44 extinct species were resident forest birds, of which, 34 (87.8 % ) went extinct between 1900 and 1950. This equates to 3.4 species lost every five years, an alarming rate of extinction for a small island like Singapore. The most susceptible families are the Trogonidae and Eurylaimidae, with 100 % species loss, and Picidae, with 56.3 % species loss. The susceptible bird families are predominantly those of the forest, whereas the resistant families exist largely in open country and scrub. In fact, only three extinct species were not largely dependent on tropical rainforest for their existence. Forest species such as the Green Broadbill (Calyptomena viridis) became extinct from the forests as recently as 1941. This emphasises the role that habitat destruction has played in shaping Singapore’s avifauna.

Fifty-four species of birds are at risk of extinction, of which 34 species (63 %) live in the forest. The remaining patches of forest in Singapore are mostly protected in the Central Nature Reserves that should provide a safe haven for the forest birds. However, the forests are too fragmented, small and constantly disturbed by thousands of visitors. By connecting the smaller Bukit Timah Nature Reserve to the much larger Central Catchment forest, the forest patch size can be increased and might allow more movement of animals and plants between the two patches. Many forest birds are secretive or weak fliers and are reluctant to cross open spaces. A green corridor might encourage them to do so.

Another 16 species (29.6 %) of threatened birds are specialists of mangroves and wetlands. Preservation of these most-threatened ecosystems in Singapore is of utmost importance to the survival of the birds found in these special habitats. With improvement in the quality of habitats, we could perhaps slow down the rate of local extinction of the avifauna of Singapore. Our remaining habitats need to be protected and laws protecting wildlife must be strictly enforced, so that the birds may have a chance to coexist with us.

Posted at 8:06AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Mon 21 May 2007

Events this week

Category : toddycats

It's a busy week this week with events and safety preparations:

Posted at 5:33AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Tue 15 May 2007

Tue 22 May 2007: 9am - Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium II (2007)

Category : meetings

Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium II (2007) Celebrating
the International Day for Biological Diversity
& the Linnaeus Tercentenary

Tuesday, 22 May 2007: 9 am-12 noon
Function Hall, Botany Centre (Tanglin Core), Singapore Botanic Gardens. See Map

Registration - All are welcome and registration is free. Just send your full name and affiliation (if any) to Ms. Ong Ruo Yu at: symposium@rafflesmuseum.net

For more details, please see symposium.rafflesmuseum.net

Posted at 10:09AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Mon 14 May 2007

Code Red, a new outdoor reality game show on TCS Ch8 (television)

Category : media

Research Writer Gin Sei Fong from MediaCorp Studios wrote to suggest including the Public Gallery of Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research in Code Red, a new outdoor reality game show that will be broadcast on TCS Ch8 in June 2007 on Tuesdays at 8pm (see the forum and starnews for details and updates).

Sei Fong wrote (excerpts):,

"Code Red," a new reality game show by Mediacorp Studios for the Chinese language Channel 8. It will introduce little known places, people and activities in Singapore to encourage Singaporeans to explore the different corners of Singapore and to understand their own heritage.

In each episode, three teams will compete to discover a maximum number of locations in four hours out of a possible 15 using provided clues. The locations/people where a red ball is hidden will have a unique significant value or an interesting background. The participants will discover the stories and heritage behind the objects they are hunting for."

Sei Fong commented that they knew of NUS graduates who had never heard of the museum and hoped to help raise awareness. I appreciated the sentiment while exchanging emails about arrangements, commented that it's one reason why museum volunteers, the Toddycats, have begun making an appearance during fairs in the university, to help raise awareness of the museum and its activities within campus itself.

The crew came to the museum on Friday to film the gallery and collections, and hid a red ball in the gallery, which the contestants would come to look for during the actual game. The game was played the next day, and on Saturday afternoon, museum volunteer Gwynne who was left holding the fort, twittered,

"The Mediacorp people just came and went (show's called "Follow the little red dot"). Like tornado! Kym Ng has very distinct voice. ^_^."

Interestingly, host Kym Ng has visited the museum a decade or so ago when the collection was featured in another programme. During that shoot, she and museum staff Kelvin Lim discover that they were schoolmates!

Sei Fong just wrote: "The museum will be featured in Episode 2, which will be broadcast on 19 June [2007]."

Posted at 4:38AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Mon 14 May 2007

AWWA School Kids visit the Raffles Museum

Category : education

A very special day for very special children.

Fri 11 May 2007 - Seven children from the Asian Women's Welfare Association (AWWA) School visited the Raffles Museum's Public Gallery in the morning. They were led by seven volunteer guides: Joelle, Zeehan, Ngan Kee, Oi Yee, Laura, Eunice and Luan Keng. Museum director Peter Ng made a special appearance to say "hi" to the children.

The children were so excited about their first visit to this museum that they went around the gallery at least three times! The guides prepared specimens for them to feel and touch. and played a "match-the-habitat" game which they all enjoyed. The children certainly had a rewarding time.

This is the first special programme Raffles Museum has had with the AWWA School and we look forward to more trips in future.

Photographs by Tan Heok Hui. See all the photos here.

Posted at 1:16AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Thu 10 May 2007

RBZ Book Reviews

Category : pub

Each issue of the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology includes book reviews of some new publications on zoology, ecology and biodiversity from the Southeast Asian region and beyond.

This region that has seen an explosion of publications in the past two decades and the reviews help popularise the titles to a specialised audience. Although all the pdfs are issued freely on the net, they might remain inaccessible and poorly referenced when not looked specifically looked for.

Hence this blog about the reviews has been started. This allows an internet audience an opportunity to stumble upon a blog post, link to or cite it, display colour images of the publication and provide active links to the web sites of various publishers, institutions, individuals and topics.

Many of the titles are evergreen and remain perpetually relevant and a blog post here will contribute to their web presence.

So the Raffles Museum Undergraduate Interns and myself have started this going just this week, and called it somewhat unimaginatively, RBZ Book Reviews!

Posted at 4:24PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Thu 10 May 2007

Crab man not crabby when working on crabs

Category : people

Administrative duties have crept and threaten to consume the life of museum director and department biodiversity group head Peter Ng over the past half-decade. The frenetic work rate is a trademark of the museum and he often growls at us that we're wasting time on meals

So when NUS adopted the five day week, he should have growled all the more, but secretly he was pleased. You see, he is now able to nestle in his office or lab, pouring over the taxonomic problems of crabs in unimagined peace and quiet. When I'm back on a Saturday for volunteer meetings or special Public Gallery tours, I might see his office light on. We leave him be and by late afternoon, he'll emerge, starving.

Things are probably looking up these days with the department's biodiversity baton handed over to Navjot Sodhi. More about that later...

Some work days, Peter manages to elude non-research responsibilities. Joelle was tickled when she watched him working the other day with grad student J. C. in a genial mood. Taken by the rare sight of her supervisor not behaving like a hungry bear, she took photos and emailed me her favourite.

"Just thought I'd share with you a picture I took of Peter this afternoon. He was in a very good mood today and was checking through some drawings. I think he is happiest when he is working on his crabs.

Made me go awwwww and I decided to take a photo. I think its really nice!"


"Peter Ng and JC checking through Herbst's drawings"

Swee Hee explained the delight of this nomenclatural hunt was accentuated by the colour slides of Herbst's drawings. Peter took colour slide photos his plates when he was in Berlin. So it was a veritable feast that day in the Systematics & Ecology Lab - history, legalistic nomenclatural investigations and of course, crabs.

Enough to make the crabman happy.

Posted at 12:53PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Thu 10 May 2007

Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement No. 1 (1995) pdf available

Category : pub

10 May 2007 - the pdf of Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement No. 1 (1995) is now available. [Link]

When the pdfs of the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology were created, we did not scan the supplements as these were lengthy and specialised tomes that most specialists would buy since it'd be value for money.

However there had been considerable demand for Supplement No. 1, and Murari P Tapaswi and colleagues at the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, India offered to make a quick scan of the documents and return us the pdf. We gratefully accepted, of course.

A few days ago, thanks to an email request from Tay Mei Lin (a grad student at the School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand), Swee Hee and I were prompted to dig out that pdf and post it online. Although the black and white images did not scan well, the text and line drawings in the 5.8MB pdf are excellent and will be useful to researchers.

So here it is: Wee, D.P.C. & P. K. L. Ng. 1995. Swimming crabs of the genera Charybdis De Haan, 1833, and Thalamita Latreille, 1829 (Crustacea: Decapoda: Brachyura: Portunidae) from Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement No. 1. Pp. 1-128

What do the crabs look like?

For the non-crabby people, here's a peek at the two genera, courtesy of Joelle Lai whom I pried away from a barbeque to send over two photos by C. W. Lin (Chan Tin Yam's nominee from National Taiwan Ocean University, ROC). These were taken during the Panglao expedition that Joelle sailed with - she certainly picked out some lovely examples!


Charybdis miles


Thalamita spinimana

Posted at 12:18PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Thu 10 May 2007

"Birds: Masters of flight" brochure

Category : pub

07 May 07 - Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research is pleased to announce the guidesheet, "Birds: Masters of Flight".

Splashed across two pages in full colour, this is the third of 10 guidesheets that will feature the natural history of Singapore. This project is supported by ExxonMobil Asia Pacific Pte Ltd.

See the Exxonmobil-Raffles Museum "Natural History of Singapore" brochures webpage.

Posted at 6:36AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Tue 08 May 2007

Linnaeus 300 (04/30) - Brechites penis (Linnaeus, 1758)

Category : linnaeus300

Linnaeus 300 - Raffles Museum News is bringing you 30 images of species described by Linnaeus in celebration of his 300th birthday on 23rd May 2007.


Photo (4 of 30): Brechites penis (Linnaeus, 1758) by Wong Hoong Wei.
Recommended by Gopalasamy Reuben Clements.

Can you spot the two tiny valves at the top left of the photo? The Waterspout or Watering-Pot Shell was described in "A Guide to Seashore Life in Singapore."

Reuben suggested we also read this interesting paper that ponders tube construction, appropriately enough in a Swedish journal: Harper, E.M. & B. Morton, 2004. Tube construction in the watering pot shell Brechites vaginiferus (Bivalvia; Anomalodesmata; Clavagelloidea). Acta Zoologica (Stockholm), 85: 149 - 161.

Linnean celebrations around the world:
Nature's Web Focus: Linnaeus at 300

Raffles Museum News: Celebrating Linnaeus' 300th birthday

Tech Tags:

Posted at 11:10AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

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