I am an ecologist, whose research focuses on the challenges and opportunities associated with conservation, management, and restoration of tropical forest landscapes and human-modified systems. I am particularly interested in “the little things that run the world”, and my research focuses on the links between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, with a particular emphasis on invertebrate diversity and community interactions.
Much of my research has focused on using dung beetles as model systems but I have worked on a range of taxa from moths and woodlice to hornbills and small mammals in both tropical (Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Belize, Brazil) and temperate (UK, Finland) environments. I am also interested in the development of policy and best practice in the oil palm industry and I am working with government agencies and NGOs engaged in land-use planning in Sabah, Malaysia.
Ong Xin Rui
I was introduced to the fascinating world of dung beetles during my undergraduate years in NUS. My most memorable event was rediscovering a dung beetle species that was thought to be extinct in Singapore.
After graduating, I have worked in the public service, and have now returned to the research field as a research assistant. I currently help to manage the Tropical Ecology and Entomology Lab in NTU. In the future, I hope to pursue a PhD and study the impacts of land-use and climate changes on dung beetles in Southeast Asia.
Chiew Li Yuen
I am affiliated with the Institute for Tropical Biology and Conservation in Sabah, Malaysia. I am an ecologist, who is interested in studying the role of dung beetles in the forest ecosystem as “Ecosystem Service Providers”. My study focussed on how dung beetle–mammal interaction networks change across a land-use gradient in Sabah (i.e. primary forest, logged forest, agroforestry, and oil palm plantation).
In addition, I investigated the chemical cues involved in dung selection by dung beetles. I addressed dung beetle diet preferences based on chemical cues and animal dung nutrients found in forests of Sabah. My study also examines the consequences of biodiversity and land-use change for ecosystem processes and functionality by examining rate of dung removal, herbivore predation, seed predation, bait lamina sticks, and bioturbation.
I am based at the Queen Mary University of London. My NERC-funded PhD is on the impacts of microclimate on the community and functional ecology of dung beetles in lowland Malaysian Borneo. I generate microclimatic data and combine it with remote-sensing to inform landscape level microclimate projections, before mapping species abundance distributions onto these projections.
I go on to demonstrate how we can investigate the variation of physiological and functional traits across these same human-modified landscapes; and, finally, how differential gene expression can be used to understand the mechanistic processes behind physiological thermal tolerances, that ultimately shape species distributions, community composition and ecosystem function.
I am a PhD candidate at Ecosystem Management Group, Department of Environmental System Science, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich). My study aims to determine which forest properties influence the performance of ecosystem functions in tropical forests.
In my study, I am measuring hydrological ecosystem functions, such as throughfall and infiltration capacity, and testing whether they can be improved with the help of dung beetle tunneling activity. Furthermore, I am investigating ecosystem functions related to carbon and nutrient cycling to understand how active restoration influenced natural forest dynamics.
I am a Year 2 undergraduate in ASE, majoring in Environmental Earth Systems Science. My project is titled "The effectiveness of Singapore Nature Ways in Supporting Local Pollinator Biodiversity."
Are Nature Ways in the way of nature? Nature Ways in Singapore are paths that connect green spaces (urban parks, nature parks, and nature reserves) together. Their primary purpose is to enhance biodiversity through planting specific plants and trees that mimic the canopy layer of forests. However, there is lack of regional and local research that prove their effectiveness. This project focuses on the usage of these Nature Ways by pollinator insect species, particularly: butterflies, bees, flies, hoverflies, ants.
I am a Year 4 undergraduate in ASE, majoring in Environmental Earth Systems Science and specializing in Ecology.
In my project, I analyze body traits of dung beetles, such as colour, body size and hairiness, and see how these traits vary between different habitats.
Tay Li Si
I am a Year 2 undergraduate in ASE, majoring in Environmental Earth Systems Science, specializing in Ecology. My research project is about relating termite communities to wood decomposition in peatlands in Indonesia. Peat swamp forests are the world’s most efficient carbon sinks, storing a third of the world’s soil carbon. A quarter of the tropical global peat swamp area is found in Indonesia and Malaysia and almost half of this area has been converted to agriculture.
Termites are often the main macrofaunal agent of decomposition in the tropics. Although they are likely to be major decomposers in tropical peat forests as well, little is known about termite communities and their ecological role in these ecosystems, or about how they are impacted by peat forest degradation and conversion. This project will sample the termite communities associated with wood across a land use gradient from undisturbed peat, to logged-over peatland, restored peatland, and agriculture (e.g. oil palm) planted on peat.
I am a Year 1 undergraduate in ASE. I am currently working on my first undergraduate research project as part of my research module, investigating spatial and temporal turnover in beetle populations in tropical rainforests. In my project, I will be looking at species richness and abundance in varying forest environments.