CHONG Kwek Yan

Senior Tutor

Contact Information:

Department of Biological Science
National University of Singapore
14 Science Drive 4
Singapore 117543

Website: https://kwekings.wordpress.com/about-me/about/

6601 6351
6779 2486

Academic Qualifications

PhD (NUS), BSc (Hons) (NUS)

Research Areas and Selected Publications

Vegetation ecology

  1. Neo, L., A.T.K. Yee, K.Y. Chong, C.Y. Kee & H.T.W. Tan. 2017. Vascular plant species richness and composition in two types of post-cultivation tropical secondary forest. Applied Vegetation Science 20: 692–701.

  2. Yee A.T.K., K.Y. Chong, L. Neo & H.T.W. Tan. (2016) Updating the classification system for the secondary forests of Singapore. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 32: 11–21.

Urban ecology

  1. Chong, K.Y., S. Teo, B. Kurukulasuriya, Y.F. Chung, S. Rajathurai & H.T.W. Tan. 2014. Not all green is as good: different effects of the spontaneous and cultivated components of urban vegetation on bird and butterfly diversity. Biological Conservation 171: 299–309.

  2. Chong, K.Y., S. Teo, B. Kurukulasuriya, Y.F. Chung, S. Rajathurai, H.C. Lim, H.T.W. Tan. 2012. Decadal changes in urban bird abundance in Singapore. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 25: 189-196.

Plant invasion ecology

  1. Chong, K.Y., M.B. Raphael, L.R. Carrasco, A.T.K. Yee, X. Giam, V.B. Yap & H.T.W. Tan. 2017. Reconstructing the invasion history of a spreading, non-native, tropical tree through a snapshot of current distribution, sizes, and growth rates. Plant Ecology 218: 673–685.

  2. Raphael, M.B., K.Y. Chong, V. B. Yap & H.T.W. Tan. 2015. Comparing germination success and seedling traits between exotic and native pioneers: Cecropia pachystachya versus Macaranga gigantea. Plant Ecology 216: 1019–1027.

  3. Yeo, H.H.T., K.Y. Chong, A.T.K. Yee, X. Giam, R.T. Corlett & H.T.W. Tan. 2014. Leaf litter depth as an important factor inhibiting seedling establishment of an exotic palm in tropical secondary forest patches. Biological Invasions 16: 381–392.

Current Research Projects

  1. Development of a Biodiversity Index for Residential Towns Using Biodiversity Field Surveys
  2. An Estimation and Assessment of Carbon Stocks in the Nee Soon Swamp Forest

Undergraduate Student Research Opportunities

Please contact me for a discussion if you are interested in taking up any of the following projects for Honours or UROPS.

AY 2018/2019
1. Every year, we seek one or two Honour-year students to support the funded research project “Biodiversity Index for Residential Towns”. This project involves point counts of birds, butterflies, odonates (dragonflies and damselflies) and amphibians across two towns each year. A student who wishes to participate in our project should contribute to our data (and therefore have at least some ability to spot and identify the common species) for at least one of these four groups, but at the same time address a research question that can stand as a separate project on its own. Other data from the funded project, e.g., surveys completed in previous years, will be made available if the research question requires.

A possible project on odonates: Functional ecology of urban odonates

Ecological traits have been collected for plants, birds, butterflies, and even fish, for various types of analyses regarding extinction, invasiveness, adaptability to the urban landscape, etc. However, odonates have not been examined in the same way. This is a project that involves mining odonate trait data, such as wingspan, body length, etc. from online and published literature as well as making measurements from museum specimens, in addition to supporting field surveys of odonates.

2. The contribution of litter production and decomposition to carbon flux in wet and dry areas of the Nee Soon catchment
Hydrological conditions affect ecological processes such as community assembly, productivity, and nutrient cycling. This project will support on-going research on freshwater swamp forests in Singapore. The student will set up and monitor litter traps in vegetation plots established in Singapore’s last substantial tract of freshwater swamp forest. The litter collected will be sorted into litter decomposition bags and placed back into the forest environment. The bags will then be re-collected at regular intervals, and the contents analyzed for litter decomposition rates and carbon content.

3. A vegetation map of Johor, Malaysia
This project will aim to (1) review past published maps, if any, and (2) produce a vegetation map of the state of Johor, Malaysia, using freely available satellite imagery. We will focus on the mainland, and verification will be done via high resolution Google Earth images. The student should already be familiar with the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software, e.g., having taken a module or a course in GIS before signing up. Ability to read Bahasa Melayu and a basic knowledge of remote sensing would be preferable. Suitable for a one- or two-semester UROPS. The student will be co-supervised by Dr. Alex Yee.

If the output is of sufficient quality, the student may continue to an Honours-year project in the following year to extend the map to offshore islands, the Riau Archipelago, Indonesia (with a focus on Batam and Bintan islands). Landsat images have previously been used to show temporal landscape changes; see here. The extended project will build on such work, e.g., by differentiating between forest and plantation, etc., to generate data such as the age of regenerating vegetation since last clearance.

4. Estimating the current rate of brood parasitism of house crow nests by Asian koels
I have suggested in the past that heavy culling of the non-native house crows in the past have reduced the formation of community roosts, and consequentially raised the vulnerability of their nests to brood parasitism by the Asian koel. This project will test this hypothesis, by estimating the current proportion of house crow nests that are parasitized by the Asian koel and compare this to the rate estimated in 2000. This project is suitable for a two-semester UROPS (beginning in January 2018) or an Honours project.

See my track record of past Honours and UROPS supervision.

There is also the possibility of extending past projects such as Effects of understorey weeding in the Labrador Nature Reserve completed by Lorraine Tan and Cultivated plants in the urban landscape as food for butterfly caterpillars completed by Rie Chong in AY2016/2017. These may involve additional study sites so an interested student should get in touch early while we are figuring out this aspect.


BL5203 Invasion Biology
LSM2251 Ecology & Environment (Semester 2)
LSM4262 Tropical Conservation Biology