Thursday afternoon, a big bunch of learning "ecologists" from NUS went to Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve for a field trip to study mangrove ecology. And believe me, everytime you go, there is something new for you to be marvelled at.
If you enter through Kranji, you might come across this railway crossing which has only one lane for a two-way traffic. Therefore, traffic jam always occurs near here though this place is not every populated.
Upon reaching the nature reserve, we were introduced to zonations based more on topography than species since our "compressed" mangroves are more heterogenous as compared to other undisturbed mangroves elsewhere from Singapore. From landward to seaward, the zonation goes like this: Back mangrove, mud lobster mound system, main forest, sandbank and then mudflat. One thing about the diversity of mangrove plants as compared to that from tropical rainforest is that species diversity is low as few plants can tolerate low oxygen, high salinity conditions.
Our first station is the back mangroves where it is found at tidal heights beyond where the highest water spring tide occur. What dominates the back mangrove will be Sea Hibiscus.
The next zonation will be the mud lobster mound and pool system.
Over here, the mud lobsters dig mud and unknowingly, they create huge mounds which are analogous to condominiums, even with swimming pool, in the forms of water pool. The height of the mound is advantageous to those plant which cannot tolerate salt because these plants can grow on the sides or on top of these mounds and be higher up from the salty water of the incoming tides. Growing on these mounds are mangrove ferns...
and sea holly. These plants can be identified by its jagged edges.
The main forest zone of Sungei Buloh is highly disturbed and therefore has more species of plants in a small area as compared to undisturbed mangroves. The common mangrove trees include the Rhizophora tree with stilt aerial roots, Bruguiera with knee like roots (as shown above) , and Avicennia with thin pencil-like roots.
The furthest seaward zone is where you can find the sandbank, as shown here. You can see many herons resting and feeding on the sandbank and also have a great view of Johor from here.
Across again, another view of Johor. Sadly, we did not see natural shores along, but with modifications.
The whole trip was summarized with a short test and we were of course stressed over it for that short moment. Other than that, was a great trip. Thank God for wonderful weather despite nasty forecast from meterological station.