Saturday, November 10, 2007

Ecology students at Kent Ridge

Sometime back, we had ecology field trips to different parts of Kent Ridge. The first trip was at the plot of degraded secondary forest (Adinandra belukar)

Each group were to conduct a vegetative analysis on one of the forest plot. We did that by setting up circular plot technique where we divide the circle into four quadrats. Then we measure the different biotic and abiotic parameters within each quadrat of our circular plot.

Briefing in process.

Moult at the underside of leaf.

We noticed a couple of common plant species within our plot, this one belongs to Simpoh air (Dillenia suffruticosa).

And tiup tiup (Adinandra dumosa). This is the tree that gives adinandra belukar their name.

In degraded soils, nutrients are easily leached and in pitcher plants compensate by being carnivorous in nature.

As shared previously, these tiny pitchers that can be found among grasses are hard to spot and they are amazing.

Our TA Stanley opened this fig, as requested by a curious classmate. More about figs here and also at Siva's blog.

After that session of doing the vegetative analysis, we all headed back home to start working on our report where we had to propose the most appropriate alternate spot for the relocation of a pump house in one of the forest patch. That was not an easy task but it was a good experience.

The second trip out again to Kent Ridge is not within the campus but to Kent Ridge Park, this time to study community ecology of web building spiders.

While walking downslope from our dropoff point towards South Buona Vista Road,

I saw this very nice seaview.

Our spider of interest is this Tetragnathidae Big-Jawed spider. This is a page of the book, A guide to common singapore spiders, as brought by our TA.

And we had to find these spider webs that are almost invisible to spot to study if there are any relationship between the size of web and the rate of prey capture over several hours. Here we have Yishan in action.

Opps, this is not exactly the spider we were looking for, but it does look impressive right. Id-wise, haha no idea.

And here is a shot of Tetragnathidae Big-Jawed spider and its web. Photographing spider and its web is not easy and glad this one turned out okay. The small centre portion where the spider is residing is called the hub and the surrounding space with no web is the free area. The parts of web that cuts perpendicularly are the radial webs and the majority of the webs are in spirals.

Another photo of the spider and its web.

Close up shot of this beautiful spider.

Interestingly, we witnessed how spiders capture their prey by wrapping them with their web. Also we also saw webs that were destroyed by falling twigs or leaves and rebuilt in half an hour.

This is a photo of us under a bus stop preparing and doing our report on the spot.

That marks the end of our ecology field trip adventures. Sad but hopefully, more of such next year as I proceed to year 4. Looking forward.

Would like to also take this opportunity to thank my TA, Stanley for being such a great TA. Also thank all my peers for making all trips an enjoyable and fruiful one, where we learnt more, not just about each organism, but also in a greater scale, about the ecology of each habitat.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Team Seagrass at Clean and Green Jamboree

Team Seagrass was part of the Clean and Green Jamboree at Bishan Park! And this is our booth with Nor Aishah and Siti!

What were at the booth? We shared with the public our equipments, photos, slides, posters...

And this is the new poster that was done up. And from a quick glance, was glad to see an addition of Sungei Buloh to where one can find the "tiger seagrass" or Halophila beccarii.

Ron also dropped by and ended up sharing more about his experiences with interested people. Dickson was here to take over as I had to leave. It was quite fun to set up a booth with Aishah and talk to people ranging from the very young children to the adults. I always find in a point that educating the young people is the most important agenda for them to realize Singapore's natural heritage and our lush seagrass beds, as they live in a concrete jungle.

How I can forget to also post a photo of our Siti sharing about biodiversity with the public talk?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Lush seagrass meadow of Cyrene Reef

Last Friday afternoon, a bunch of friendly and enthusiastic Team Seagrassers took a big boat out to the sea.

Where were we heading to? Is it Pulau Bukom at the background? Can't be right? We can't possibly be heading there to monitor seagrass and there is no island between the boat and Bukom.

And magically, Cyrene Reef, a patch reef "emerged" as we came nearer to it. Cyrene Reef is one of the sites Team Seagrass monitors and I have missed all the previous opportunities to visit this fantastic and amazing reef judging from all the wonderful accounts from their previous visits. I thought this time I would have to give it a miss, but thank God, the plant physiology lab session was postponed.

Cyrene reef is surrounded by Jurong Island, Pulau Bukom and the container cargoes of West Coast Terminal. Yet life thrives at this reef. This patch reef is only visible at very low tides and there has been even news of boat in the past that rammed up Cyrene since it is in the middle of the busy shipping lane of Singapore.

Thanks to Shufen, we got this small boat that transports us from the big one to the landing site of Cyrene Reef. So we no need to swim!

And when the last group reached Cyrene, the first group has already in no time travelled far towards their further monitoring site.

Cyrene Reef, I must confess, has the best seagrass meadow and community. If you don't believe, look at the photos below.

Firstly, doing monitoring is not an easy task as there are a whopping eight species of seagrasses in Cyrene! Thus, every good care is taken to ensure that we identified the correct species for recording and measurements. Thank God Siti is partnering me and she's definitely the best person to do ID since she's the head. Haha.

Cyrene is where I see the most life among the seagrasses. This is a flowery soft coral that looks like cauliflower.

And amazingly, Cyrene Reef is also where I saw the most number of knobbly seastars. These guys are juvenile and look really cute.

And we saw many more, each of the one above is a different seastar.

At the seagrass lagoon and the sandy areas, these synaptic sea cucumbers are quite common.

Even the Haddoni carpet anemone can be found in Cyrene. Ria spotted the Gigantea.

The last time I saw these Denison's nudibranchs was at Beting Bronok. I like the blue spots on its body.

This hairy crab is a popular well-liked crab especially during the Naked Hermit Crabs walks. It is like a teddy-bear crab with its hairs looking like the teddy's fur. Not only that, these hairy crabs are gentle and can be handled by hand.

Here's a collage of the "fan-y" organisms. The first two are peacock anemones, and the third one is a shy fan worm. The last photo at bottom right is the female flower of the Enhalus tape seagrass where white styrofoam-like male flowers meets.

Look at how these cute these tape seagrass's male flowers are.

Also spotted at the sandy pool of tidal waters is this sandfish sea cucumber.

Common seastars, though are not common anymore in Singapore, are still common in fantastic shores like Cyrene reef. They are lost mainly due to overcollection. Looking at this couple having sex.

How I wish all beaches of Singapore can have such star marks on the sandbar, rather than cleanly sanitized sand pour on top of concrete, for eg. Sentosa. Someone once did dig sand for sandcastle in Sentosa's beach and hit concrete. How disappointing yet amusing.

More sandy animals are the sand dollars and also this soldier crab that is part of large troops on Cyrene reef, a rare sight nowadays.

It was a sunny and scorching afternoon, yet we persisted on to explore the huge area of land exposed during low tide. Time is always not enough.

There are different and many "boulders" of hard corals...

and different types of soft corals, like this fingerlike leathery soft coral, in the reefs of Cyrene.

Ron and I were excited to see this huge slug that was almost 3 quarters the size of a pair of chopsticks. According to Ron, it looks like Pleurobranchus forskalii.

Ron and I came across these school of fishes leaping across the tidal pool we were crossing and it was a spectcular sight! There are so many fishes. Hope this video uploaded is clear enough.

Saw this Neptune's cup sponge with Ron before we had to really leave before the tide caught us trapped.

While waiting for our small boat to fetch us, I found this bunch of seed-like stuffs. Asked Marcus and he told me these are the egg cases of a shark.

As sun sets over the stunning the Cyrene, we bidded goodbye.

And here we go, with the boatman, back to the large boat, where we returned back to mainland, back to reality, back to tons of work awaiting.... Haha. End of fantasy.

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