26 February 2010

Nature in Singapore: mushrooms, moths and mangrove palm

"Troops of bright sulphur-yellow" mushrooms were seen in our forests in 2008 with as many as 50 found in one area alone. "Prolific flushing" was also seen other locations.
What is this fungus? Find out in Nature in Singapore!

25 February 2010

'Attap Chee' - on NParks Buzz Mar 10

To celebrate International Year of Biodiversity our wildlife will be featured on NParks Buzz the NParks newsletter.
Did you know that the "Attap Chee" we eat comes from the Nipah palm (Nypa fruticans)?

24 February 2010

5 Mar (Fri): Butt Watcher's Workshop - A New Perspective

Fascinating 'butts' abound in our gardens and wild places. Learn more about these beautiful creatures!Khew Sin Khoon of the ButterflyCircle conducts this workshop for nature guides. The focus is on raising 'butt' awareness. The workshops are a fun way to learn and also meet other like-minded 'butt' lovers.

22 February 2010

Connecting with Nature Week for kids - March holiday specials

Exciting nature activities for kids are lined up at our parks this March school holidays! Lots of fun ways to learn more about Singapore's biodiversity!
from the Cicada Tree Eco Place website.

There are special workshops on dragonflies, night workshops on frogs and toads, and bats! And walking tours for kids at the Southern Ridges and Kent Ridge Park. As well as an art exhibition.

19 February 2010

26 Feb (Fri): Talk about Ginger flowers

Did you know that the appearance of flower parts can provide valuable information about the evolutionary history of individual plants, their species or genera?
Find out more at the talk on "Secrets to Anthers - Window to Curcuma Evolution?"

18 February 2010

27 Feb (Sat): Screening of "End of the Line" and get the WWF Singapore Seafood Guide

Come for the screening of "The End of the Line" and the chance to pick up a free WWF Singapore Seafood Guide! More about the Seafood Guide.
Where have all the fish gone? See the world’s first major feature documentary film revealing the devastating impact of overfishing on the oceans!

16 February 2010

Dr. John Yong's Guides to mangroves, mistletoes and ferns

Dr. John Yong has shared valuable guides to our mangroves, mistletoes and ferns!
Comparative Guide to Mangroves by JWH Yong
Click on image to download full size.

These guides are a wonderful aid for those learning to identify these plants!

15 February 2010

PrawnWatch at Sungei Buloh: fun way to learn about mangroves!

This free guided introduction to traditional prawn farming is a great way for kids and the family to learn about mangroves!

This activity is not held very often. So try to catch the upcoming PrawnWatch on 20 Feb (Sat)!

09 February 2010

18 Feb (Thu): Talk on brittle star biology

Learn about our brittle stars and basket stars!
Dr Toshihiko Fujita from the National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo will be in Singapore to give an introduction to these fascinating animals!

08 February 2010

New guided walk! At Bukit Batok Nature Park

Developed on an abandoned quarry site, Bukit Batok Nature Park has undulating and meandering footpaths leading to scenic look-out points, some more than 10-storeys high! The quarry now forms a scenic pool with a small stream.
Photo from the NParks website on Bukit Batok Nature Park

The Park has a regenerating secondary forest and planted trees. The most popular of these trees must surely be the durian trees planted by squatters long ago. These result in an increase in visitors during the durian season!

Our sponges - on NParks Buzz Feb 10

To celebrate International Year of Biodiversity our wildlife will be featured on NParks Buzz the NParks newsletter.
In the Feb 10 issue, the spotlight is on our sponges!

06 February 2010

Sitting Pretty:
Colour morphology and hunting success in orb web spiders

Why do some orb web spiders display striking colours and patterns, while others are drab and brown? Bright colours, it seems, help to attract tasty prey to their webs, but also provide easy targets for ferocious predatory wasps. What spiders have done, according to Dr. Tso I-Min of Tunghai University, is to evolve optimum trade-offs in morphology, behaviour and mutualistic relationships that balance the scales of reward and risk.

05 February 2010

Hooked on Hymenopterans! (part 2)

Visit John's website, www.vespa-bicolor.net, for insights into these hornets and other hymenopterans!

Amateur hymenopterist, John Lee, talks about the bees and wasps of Hong Kong, their similarities and differences with Singapore's species, and his work to share about these fascinating insects with the public in both countries. Read Part 1 here!

Beesy in Singapore!

According to hymenopterist, John Lee, there are three common species of honeybees in Singapore. One is the common Asian honeybee, Apis cerana, a species that deserve more attention and study as it is more resistant to diseases than the European honeybee, Apis mellifera.

The inch-long giant honeybee, Apis dorsata (pictured above), builds combs that can exceed a metre. This aggressive species nests high in trees, and so is rarely encountered by humans. Its honey, however, is highly sought after and collected by local communities in many parts of Asia, who use smoke or fire to deflect the hive’s defenders.

03 February 2010

Hooked on Hymenopterans! (Part 1)

Why enjoy life on one island, if you can do so on two? That's what John Lee, a self-taught entomologist specialising in bees and wasps has been doing since his teens. In this interview, posted in two parts, John shares how he got hooked on hymenopterans (click here for a quick introduction to these insects), the hazards of the hive and the discoveries that keep him coming back for more, in both Hong Kong and Singapore.

You’d expect the prospect of getting stung and other jungle hazards to be part of the package for one who studies bees and wasps. But who would have thought that the pursuit of new hymenopterans could involve getting chased by angry villagers unused to snooping strangers?

That’s what John Lee, a young Singaporean based in Hong Kong, has to deal with at times as he explores the northern New Territories. These rural parts are some of the most productive places to observe wasps, with high concentrations of rare species. “But the villagers are often highly suspicious, close-minded and can get violent,” he notes. Other risks in the field include unpredictable weather, particularly sudden thunderstorms in Singapore, and dogs. “I have learnt how to stand my ground and force them to retreat,” John remarks.

What are Hymenopterans?
The world of bees and wasps

Male carpenter bee (Xylocopa confusa)

Named for their membrane-like wings (hymen = membrane in Greek, while pteron = wing), hymenopterans include bees and wasps. Ants also belong to this order, but except for their reproductive forms, called alates, this family (Formicidae) has abandoned flight to create colonies that have been described as superorganisms of unmatched complexity.

01 February 2010

Celebrating a Parasite a Day

Not all biodiversity is cute and cuddly. Some are positively creepy. But all play a role in life on this planet.
As part of International Year of Biodiversity, American Museum of Natural History Curator Susan Perkins celebrates with a blog featuring a Parasite of the Day for the entire year!

Here's more about her site and why we should care about parasites.

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