QE: Conservation of epiphytic orchids in an urbanised tropical environment (Muhammad Izuddin Bin Mohamad Rafee, 8 May, 10am)

Department of Biological Sciences, NUS
Qualifying Examination

Conservation of epiphytic orchids in an urbanised tropical environment
Speaker:        Muhammad Izuddin Bin Mohamad Rafee (Graduate Student, Dept. of Biological Sciences, NUS)
Date:             8 May 2015, Friday
Time:            10am
Venue:          Seminar Room 1 (S2Level 4,# 04-14)
Supervisor:   Assoc Prof Webb, Edward Layman

Abstract: –

The Orchidaceae is one the world’s largest plant family. Orchid species grow in a wide variety of habitats and have various life history strategies ranging from evergreen to non-green species, and from epiphytic (70% epiphytes) to terrestrial. Despite their high diversity, many orchids are at risk of extinction as a consequence of human processes. Urbanisation—along with deforestation—is a prevalent process contributing to the rapid loss of biodiversity, especially in the tropics where floral diversity and endemism levels are highest. For example, the city-state of Singapore has lost more than 99% of its native forest and concomitantly 62-68% of its original 297 native epiphyte species. Yet, although urban environments tend to have reduced biodiversity as compared to natural forest habitats, there are considerable evidence highlighting their capacity for biodiversity conservation. Understanding the potential for managed vegetation (e.g. roadside trees, urban parks) to provide opportunities for maintenance of orchid biodiversity is therefore essential. My PhD research aims to address less-studied, yet pertinent ecological aspects of epiphytic orchids in the urban environment—mainly mycorrhizal fungus availability, orchid-mycorrhizae relationships, and microsite constraints. The aforementioned uncertainties will be addressed using a combination of environmental monitoring techniques, ecological modelling, and phylogenetics. The findings may pave the way for spatial expansions of rare orchid species (and their associated pollinators) beyond natural environments, leading to the desirable utilisation of potential, alternative species/genetic storehouses i.e. urban areas. Such knowledge may also allow for more informed and systematic intervention actions and management-conservation frameworks.

All are welcome