TAN MING KAI10435005_10152522284157710_1457162775749643971_n

Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, 14 Science Drive 4, Singapore 117543, Republic of Singapore. Email: orthoptera.mingkai@gmail.com

Public profiles: Google Scholar; ResearchGate

Research areas and interests

My research focuses on the Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets and katydids) from Southeast Asia. My main interests currently lie in their taxonomy, natural history, and behaviour and ecology. I hope to address knowledge gaps on our understanding of Southeast Asian orthopterans.

More about me on The Straits Times (2015).


About Orthoptera

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, 2011Fartmann et al., 2012). Nonetheless, grasshoppers and relatives also have a “love-hate relationship” with humans (Lockwood, 1998Samways & 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).