All are welcome to this Department of Biological Sciences PhD Qualifying Exam seminar!
Date: 12 November 2012; Time: 10 AM; Venue: DBS Conference room (map)
Abstract: Habitat degradation and fragmentation in the tropics, especially in South East Asia, poses great threat to tropical butterflies. Forest dependant butterfly species get worse hit as they lose original habitat and are often unable to colonize degraded habitats due to lack of species specific resources in such habitats. If scarce resources limit populations of threatened butterflies, then chances of survival of these species can be improved by enhancing habitats with key resources. Furthermore, many threatened insects cannot maintain their own populations and need intervention in the form of habitat enrichment. By using Singapore as a model system, the study first maps hotspots of butterfly diversity in Singapore, identifies areas which hold species of conservation concern and hypothesizes bottlenecks for the survival and reproduction for rare and threatened butterfly species. Next a habitat enrichment strategy using larval host plants (juvenile food resource) and nectar plants (adult food resource) is proposed to quantify the effect of habitat enrichment and identify real bottlenecks for butterflies by 1) maximizing populations in native habitat 2) improving sub-optimal habitat quality and 3) improving connectivity of fragmented native habitat by establishing resource rich stepping stones in between them. Finally, using capture-mark-recapture techniques the study will test if creating these stepping stones can increase exchange between forest fragments thus increasing long term viability of fragmented metapopulations. The study will be the first to identify bottlenecks and quantify the effects of habitat enrichment for butterflies in the tropics and give specific recommendations for conservation planning.