NUS High School Of Maths And Science


The effect of microclimate and fragmentation on the breeding activity and detectability of frogs in Singapore





Students: (from left to right) Aaron Ong, Intan Krishanty Wirayadi, Joseph Soh.


Teacher supervisor: Malcolm Soh.

NUS co-supervisor: Dr. David Bickford, Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation Lab





Fragmentation of Singapore forests as a result of rapid industrialization can cause changes in the microclimates in forest remnants. Such changes can cause a decline in frogs since they have a semi-permeable skin that makes them particularly vulnerable microclimatic fluctuations. Fragmentation typically causes a decrease in the humidity and an increase in temperature which is detrimental to frogs. Research on frogs studying these factors has been conducted mainly in temperate regions, but little is known of the reproductive biology of frogs in the tropics. Hence, through surveys of the frog biodiversity in four parks, we aim to determine how changes in microclimatic variables: temperature and humidity and other influential factors such as rainfall and size of water bodies affect the diversity and reproductive biology of frog communities in Singapore. The four parks, Ang-Mo-Kio-Town-Garden-West, Bukit-Batok-Nature-Park, Punggol-Park and Kampong-Java Park were selected from the North, West, East and Central parts of Singapore respectively. From recent surveys we recorded the presence of common species such as the Banded Bullfrog (Kaloula pulchra) and Asian Toad (Bufo melanostictus) in all the parks. In Kampong Java, the introduced American Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) occured in high abundance. A more comprehensive analysis of data will follow after the completion of our surveys. Further, our data will also supplement a larger database of similar variables from other forest remnants recorded by the Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation Lab at NUS. This will also help us gain a broader understanding of the impacts of fragmentation on frog communities in Singapore.




Why did you become involved with the

Conservation Ecology Lab?


Having each completed research projects that were lab-based or research-intensive, we craved for a Biology project that involved fieldwork as a large component. We proposed many ideas to our teacher-mentor Mr. Malcolm Soh and deceided upon a study of frogs and fragmentation under the guidance of Dr. David Bickford.




Aaron Ong Chee How


I am a Fourth Year student in NUS High School of Mathematics and Science. My interests lie in the Biological and Social Sciences. Prior to our ongoing research on the effects of microclimatic variations and habitat disturbance on frog communities, I studied the effectiveness of using Southern Platyfish (Xiphophorus maculatus) as bioindicators of common water pollutants. I hope to further my studies in environmental management or development studies, and ultimately pursue a career in the United Nations.




Intan Krishanty Wirayadi


I am a year 4 student currently studying in NUS High School of Math and Science. I have completed two other biology projects, namely: studying the influence of weather changes on Nephila antipodiana and Nephila pilipes, as well as testing out the effects of common polutants on Xiphophorus maculatus to see if they can be used as bioindicators of pollutants. I would like to be a doctor specializing in infectious diseases when I grow up, but my dream is to be someone who can make a difference to this world.




Soh Shi Yang Joseph


I am a Year 4 student studying in NUS High School of Math and Science. Out of the wide variety of sciences, I am more interested in the field of sport science and bioengineering. This is my first time taking on a Biology research project, and hence, I'm not very experienced. However, I am keen to learn and discover about the great many things that lie ahead, hopefully having a successful and enriching time during the course of this project. I would like to further my studies in my fields of interest and business management, and hopefully that could translate to success in becoming a technopreneur.




Supervised by Malcolm Soh


I first got involved in lab through my correspondence in Dr. Bickford to see if he may be keen to supervise some NUS High students for a research project. He agreed enthusiastically and we have learnt lots from him and his most helpful post-graduate students since then! The field work on frogs so far has been great. I didn’t think I’ll take on to frogs too much initially but now I sometimes find myself have quick look around little bushes and ponds for signs of anuran life.
I’ve been teaching in NUS High School for close to four years now and prior to teaching, I completed my masters (under Navjot Sodhi, NUS) investigating how montane bird communities in Peninsular Malaysia are affected by habitat degradation.