With industrialisation and development, Singapore's area is now as follows: built-up (49.7%), with the remainder as farms (1.7%), forest (4.4%), marsh and tidal waste (2.4%) and others (including inland reservoirs, cemeteries, public gardens, etc.) (41.9%). With a population density of 5,354 per sq km, the third highest in the world, the pressure for land is thus very high.
Estuarine and tidal habitats have been badly affected by the construction of reservoirs and land reclamation. Six estuarine reservoirs were formed by damming rivers draining to the north and west coasts between 1972 and 1984. From the 1960's to the present day, land reclamation has increased the original land area by one-tenth, altering most of the southern and north-eastern coasts.
The mangrove forests that remain are no longer complete ecosystems. As with habitats all over Singapore, animals at the top of the food chain have long since disappeared. In mangroves, this means the absence of tigers and crocodiles. However, this also means that it is relatively safe for researchers to explore without fear of disappearing!
They include: Hardyadrama excoecariae Lee, 1991 (a dipteran fly), Limnoria cristata Cookson & Cragg, 1991 (a limnorid woodlouse), Linoglossa murphyi Sawada, 1991 (a staphylinid beetle), Potamalpheops tigger Yeo & Ng, 1997 (an alpheid shrimp, in photo at right), Praosia punctata Tan & Ng, 1993 (a leucosiid crab), Raphidopus johnsoni Ng & Nakasone, 1995 (a porcelain crab), Thais malayensis Tan & Sigurdsson, 1996 (a muricid snail), Murphydoris singaporensis Sigurdsson, 1 991 (a goniodorid slug), and Argiope mangal Koh, 1991 (an araneid spider).
There are lots more new species out there, with many interesting stories about their lives. The little mangrove we have left is still a very interesting place, and promises to reveal more in the years to come.
From "A Guide to Mangroves of Singapore", Peter K. L. Ng and N. Sivasothi (editors)
Volume 1: The Ecosystem and Plant Diversity and Volume 2: Animal Diversity
Authors: Kelvin K. P. Lim, Dennis H. Murphy, T. Morgany, N. Sivasothi, Peter K. L. Ng,
B. C. Soong, Hugh T. W. Tan, K. S. Tan & T. K. Tan
BP Guide to Nature Series published by the Singapore Science Centre, sponsored by British Petroleum
© 2001 Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, The National University of Singapore & The Singapore Science Centre