TAN MING KAI
Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, 14 Science Drive 4, Singapore 117543, Republic of Singapore.
Research areas and interests
My research focuses on the Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets and katydids) from Southeast Asia. My main interests lie with its taxonomy, natural history and ecology, in which there are still much to be discovered and understood for Southeast Asian orthopterans. I hope to fill knowledge gaps on our understanding of Southeast Asian orthopterans.
The Orthoptera are among the most common terrestrial macro-invertebrates around (more than 27,000 species worldwide) (Cigliano et al., 2016). In tropical Southeast Asia, Orthopterans can be found in most terrestrial habitats, from the dipterocarp forests and grasslands to mangroves and coastal forests, and even highly urbanised areas. They also occupy a diverse array of microhabitats, from subterranean and leaf litters to canopy as well as streams and intertidal zones. Many of the orthopterans are nocturnal or more easily observed during night. While the ecology of Southeast Asian orthopterans is not well known, orthopterans are generally important players in the ecosystem. Being abundant and diverse, orthopterans belong to the class of short-lived organisms that maintains the integrity of tropical forests (Wilson, 1987). They form close interactions with plants and vegetation structure (Joern, 1982; Badenhausser et al., 2015), and are responsible for numerous crucial ecological roles that include pollination and predation (Micheneau et al., 2010; Poo et al., 2016). These also make them potentially useful ecological indicators (Bazelet & Samways, 2011; Fartmann et al., 2012). Nonetheless, grasshoppers and relatives also have a “love-hate relationship” with humans (Lockwood, 1998; Samways & Lockwood, 1998). Locusts, which are migratory grasshoppers, have historically plagued agricultural civilizations and a few species are still considered pests in some countries. Yet, orthopterans have also been featured in mythology, folklore and can be popular pets (fighting crickets and singing pets) or food that is high in protein (Paul et al., 2016).
Design update: 15 October 2016