TAN MING KAI
Current affiliation: Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, 14 Science Drive 4, Singapore 117543, Republic of Singapore
My research focuses on the Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets, and katydids) from Southeast Asia. I have broad research interests, but my main interests currently lie in taxonomy, natural history, and behaviour and ecology. Here are my current research projects.
The Orthoptera are among the most common terrestrial macro-invertebrates (more than 28,000 species worldwide and 2,000 species in Southeast Asia) (Cigliano et al., 2018; Tan et al., 2017). In the tropical Southeast Asia, the orthopterans can be found in most terrestrial habitats, from the dipterocarp forests and grasslands to the mangroves and coastal forests, as well as highly urbanised areas. They also occupy a diverse array of microhabitats, from the sub-terrain and leaf litters to the canopy, as well as the streams and inter-tidal zones. Many of the orthopterans are nocturnal and more easily observed during night time, and therefore are generally poorly known and appreciated. But, the orthopterans also play numerous ecological roles, many of which are understudied (e.g., pollination [Tan et al., 2017; Tan & Tan, 2018]). Their diversity in forms and niches make them potentially useful ecological indicators (Tan et al., 2017).
Grasshoppers and relatives have a “love-hate relationship” with humans (Lockwood, 1998; Samways & Lockwood, 1998). They are generally considered as nuisance merely because a fraction of orthopterans (namely the locusts, or migratory grasshoppers) have historically plagued agricultural civilisations. On the other hand, the orthopterans have also been featured in mythology, bible, and folklore. Some crickets and katydids made popular pets (fighting crickets and singing pets) in the past, while other species are now considered important protein source of lower carbon footprint (Paul et al., 2016).