Category Archives: pub

Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, impact factor

Swee Hee dropped me a note yesterday:

“The SCI impact factor ranking for 2006 is now published and the impact factor of the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology has increased from 0.422 for 2005 to 0.533 for 2006.”

ISI Journal Impact Factor
2006 – 0.533
2005 – 0.422
2004 – 0.362
2003 – 0.235
2002 – 0.365
2001 – 0.434
2000 – 0.314

Slowly and steadily!


RBZ Supplement No. 15 (30 Apr 2007): “An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Singapore”

The Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, NUS published The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement No. 15, “An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Singapore,” in collaboration with the Bird Ecology Study Group.

The 179-page monograph by Wang Luan Keng and Christopher J. Hails was published on 30 April 2007. It is the 15th in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement Series. The tome is

“Dedicated to Lady Yuen-Peng McNeice, for her generous contribution towards the study of birds.”

Retail price: S$25 (including GST). Available for sale at the Raffles Museum office and Nature’s Niche (Singapore Botanic Gardens Shop). Participants of the Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium II tomorrow will be able to buy the issue at $20 between 12pm-1pm.

Wang, L. K. & C. J. Hails, 2007. An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Singapore. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement No. 15: 1-179.

Abstract. – This annotated checklist is the third major compilation for Singapore. It lists the current status of all bird species ever recorded in the wild in Singapore. A total of 404 species have been recorded, including 44 species which are now extinct or have not been recorded for the last 50 years. Some of the latter species have been recorded again as non-breeding visitors.

There are now 342 species that occur naturally in Singapore and another 22 species that were introduced by man. Fifty-eight families of birds are represented. There are 121 resident species with proven breeding records and 21 other presumed residents. One hundred and fifty-four species are winter visitors and/or passage migrants, with another 25 species listed as non-breeding visitors and 21 others that occur in Singapore as vagrants.

Census data since 1991 shows that the total number of birds in Singapore has declined by 40 % and the number of species has declined by nearly 17 %. The most abundant bird species is a migrant, the Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva).

The most important site in terms of bird population is Sungei Mandai, an unprotected (editor 2022 note: as of 2018 Mandai Mangrove and Mudflat was declared to be conserved as a Nature Park) mudflat and mangrove ecosystem while Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and Pulau Ubin are important in having the highest diversities of birds. The loss of mudflats through reclamation, damming of estuaries, and canalisation of rivers had resulted in a decline in waterbird density and diversity as shown in the Annual Waterfowl Census. The current total shorebird population in Singapore is only 4,000 – 5,000 birds, a vast decrease from the large wintering population of 10,000 birds at a single site in 1985, the Serangoon Estuary.

Forty-one of the 44 extinct species were resident forest birds, of which, 34 (87.8 % ) went extinct between 1900 and 1950. This equates to 3.4 species lost every five years, an alarming rate of extinction for a small island like Singapore. The most susceptible families are the Trogonidae and Eurylaimidae, with 100 % species loss, and Picidae, with 56.3 % species loss. The susceptible bird families are predominantly those of the forest, whereas the resistant families exist largely in open country and scrub. In fact, only three extinct species were not largely dependent on tropical rainforest for their existence. Forest species such as the Green Broadbill (Calyptomena viridis) became extinct from the forests as recently as 1941. This emphasises the role that habitat destruction has played in shaping Singapore’s avifauna.

Fifty-four species of birds are at risk of extinction, of which 34 species (63 %) live in the forest. The remaining patches of forest in Singapore are mostly protected in the Central Nature Reserves that should provide a safe haven for the forest birds. However, the forests are too fragmented, small and constantly disturbed by thousands of visitors. By connecting the smaller Bukit Timah Nature Reserve to the much larger Central Catchment forest, the forest patch size can be increased and might allow more movement of animals and plants between the two patches. Many forest birds are secretive or weak fliers and are reluctant to cross open spaces. A green corridor might encourage them to do so.

Another 16 species (29.6 %) of threatened birds are specialists of mangroves and wetlands. Preservation of these most-threatened ecosystems in Singapore is of utmost importance to the survival of the birds found in these special habitats. With improvement in the quality of habitats, we could perhaps slow down the rate of local extinction of the avifauna of Singapore. Our remaining habitats need to be protected and laws protecting wildlife must be strictly enforced, so that the birds may have a chance to coexist with us.

“Birds: Masters of flight” brochure

07 May 07 – Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research is pleased to announce the guidesheet, “Birds: Masters of Flight”.

Splashed across two pages in full colour, this is the third of 10 guidesheets that will feature the natural history of Singapore. This project is supported by ExxonMobil Asia Pacific Pte Ltd.

See the Exxonmobil-Raffles Museum “Natural History of Singapore” brochures webpage.

Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement No. 1 (1995) pdf available

10 May 2007 – the pdf of Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement No. 1 (1995) is now available. [Link]

When the pdfs of the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology were created, we did not scan the supplements as these were lengthy and specialised tomes that most specialists would buy since it’d be value for money.

However there had been considerable demand for Supplement No. 1, and Murari P Tapaswi and colleagues at the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, India offered to make a quick scan of the documents and return us the pdf. We gratefully accepted, of course.

A few days ago, thanks to an email request from Tay Mei Lin (a grad student at the School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand), Swee Hee and I were prompted to dig out that pdf and post it online. Although the black and white images did not scan well, the text and line drawings in the 5.8MB pdf are excellent and will be useful to researchers.

So here it is: Wee, D.P.C. & P. K. L. Ng. 1995. Swimming crabs of the genera Charybdis De Haan, 1833, and Thalamita Latreille, 1829 (Crustacea: Decapoda: Brachyura: Portunidae) from Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement No. 1. Pp. 1-128

What do the crabs look like?

For the non-crabby people, here’s a peek at the two genera, courtesy of Joelle Lai whom I pried away from a barbeque to send over two photos by C. W. Lin (Chan Tin Yam’s nominee from National Taiwan Ocean University, ROC). These were taken during the Panglao expedition that Joelle sailed with – she certainly picked out some lovely examples!

Charybdis miles
Thalamita spinimana

Coming your way: Birds of the Malay Peninsula (1927-1939)

Museum staff Wang Luan Keng passed me a flashdrive this week – in it were the digitised contents of the first four volumes of the “Birds of Malay Peninsula.”

This is the culmination of a project funded by Lady Yuen-Peng McNeice. The four tomes published between 1927-1939 were loaned out from the Science Library of the National Universty of Singapore.

The pdf files will hosted on frills-free webpage in the manner of the bibliography page of the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology.

There are about 275 files, and we will post updates here as soon as they are up.

Celestial Pearl Danio featured in National Geographic News

“Aquarium Fish Threatened With Extinction Just Months After Discovery.” By Maryann Mott. National Geographic News, 07 Mar 2007.

“Just months after the discovery of a colorful new aquarium fish in Southeast Asia, worldwide demand and intense exportation are already causing concern about the survival of the species.

The celestial pearl danio (Celstichthys Celestichthys margaritatus) was first found in August by a commercial aquarium-fish dealer near the town of Hopong in Myanmar (formerly Burma), which neighbors China and Thailand.

Measuring less than an inch (2.5 centimeters), the fish is deep blue with pearly pink or golden iridescent oval spots. It lives in heavily vegetated ponds in a remote northern part of the country, which is largely off-limits to foreigners.

At first the danio’s location was kept a secret. But it wasn’t long before word leaked out to other commercial dealers, said Tyson Roberts, an ichthyologist who has collected fish in Myanmar for almost 30 years.

Within a few months one Thai company alone had exported about 15,000 of the fish, he pointed out.

Since then exportation – mainly to Japan, North America, and Europe – has probably been ten times that amount, Roberts added.

“Captive breeding may be the only way for the aquarium hobbyist to ensure a supply of the species in the future, since it reportedly is already nearly fished out in the area where it was discovered,” he wrote by email.

Roberts is the author of a paper on the celestial pearl danio that appeared in last week’s issue of the journal the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology. He also named the new species, after white spots on its body that reminded him of stars and pearls.”

Read the entire article at National Geographic News. Thanks to Ria Tan for the alert

Practical FishKeeping advises against purchasing the “Celestial Pearl Danio”

“Galaxy rasbora placed in new genus.” By Matt Clarke. Practical Fishkeeping, 28 Feb 2007.

“Practical Fishkeeping reported earlier this month that the habitat had been decimated by fish exporters who had gone to the area specifically to catch the species to meet massive consumer demand for the species since it was introduced just six months ago.”

“Practical Fishkeeping is advising fishkeepers not to purchase the species to reduce global demand.”

Celestichthys margaritatus is the new species described in: Roberts, T. R., 2007. The “Celestial Pearl Danio”, a new genus and species of colourful minute cyprinid fish from Myanmar (Pisces: Cypriniformes). The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, 55(1): 131-140. See Raffles Museum News.

“Taxonomist sources told Practical Fishkeeping that at least three scientists were simultaneously planning to describe the new species, but Roberts was the first to release his description of the popular new cyprinid.”

The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Vol. 55, No. 1 (28 Feb 2007)

The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Vol. 55, No. 1 (28 Feb 2007)

Volume 55 Number 1 of The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology is published today . All the articles are available for free download at the bibliography page, “pdfs of The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, 1928 – 2007” – link.


  • Records of dacine fruit flies and new species of Dacus (Diptera: Tephritidae) in Bhutan. Richard A. I. Drew, M. C. Romig and C. Dorji. Pp. 1-21.
  • The Phortica sensu stricto (Insecta: Diptera: Drosophilidae) from Malaysia. Hong-Wei Chen, Masanori J. Toda, Maklarin B. Lakim and Maryati B. Mohamed. Pp. 23-41.
  • Three new species of Stegana (Oxyphortica) from Yunnan Province, Southwestern China (Insecta: Diptera: Drosophilidae). Miao-Feng Xu, Jian-Jun Gao and Hong-Wei Chen. Pp. 43-47.
  • Paraclius (Diptera: Dolichopodidae: Dolichopodinae) of Singapore, with new species from mangroves. Lili Zhang, Ding Yang and Patrick Grootaert. Pp. 49-62.
  • First records of the family Ochyroceratidae (Arachnida: Araneae) from China, with descriptions of a new genus and eight new species. Yanfeng Tong and Shuqiang Li. Pp. 63-76.
  • Two new freshwater prawns of the genus Macrobrachium Bate, 1868 (Crustacea: Decapoda: Palaemonidae) from the Kelian River, East Kalimantan, Indonesia. D. Wowor and J. Short. Pp. 77-87.
  • Two new species of Gonodactylellus from the Western Pacific (Gonodactylidae: Stomatopoda). Shane T. Ahyong and Mark V. Erdmann. Pp. 89-95.
  • A new species of the hermit crab genus Pagurixus Melin (Crustacea: Decapoda: Anomura: Paguridae) from the Indo-west Pacific. Tomoyuki Komai and Masayuki Osawa. Pp. 97-105.
  • Revision of the Indo-west Pacific sponge crabs of the genus Petalomera Stimpson, 1858 (Decapoda: Brachyura: Dromiidae). Colin L. Mclay and Peter K. L. Ng. Pp. 107-120.
  • On a new species of Elamenopsis from Singapore, with notes on Crustaenia palawanensis (Serène, 1971)(Crustacea: Decapoda: Brachyura: Hymenosomatidae). Tohru Naruse and Peter K. L. Ng. Pp. 121-125.
  • On a new species of cavernicolous crab of the genus Sesarmoides Serène & Soh, 1970 (Crustacea: Decapoda: Brachyura: Sesarmidae) from Sulawesi, Indonesia. Tohru Naruse and Peter K. L. Ng. Pp. 127-130.
  • The “Celestial Pearl Danio”, a new genus and species of colourful minute cyprinid fish from Myanmar (Pisces: Cypriniformes). Tyson R. Roberts. Pp. 131-140.
  • Cyclocheilichthys schoppeae, a new species of freshwater fish (Teleostei: Cyprinidae) from Northern Palawan, Philippines. Miguelito Cervancia and Maurice Kottelat. Pp. 141-145.
  • A review of the catfish genus Pseudexostoma (Siluriformes: Sisoridae) with description of a new species from the upper Salween (Nujiang) basin of China. Wei Zhou, Ying Yang, Xu Li and Ming-Hui Li. Pp. 147-155.
  • A new treefrog of the genus Rhacophorus (Anura: Rhacophoridae) from Hainan Island, China. Wen-hao Chou, Michael Wai-Neng Lau and Bosco P. L. Chan. Pp. 157-165.
  • A new Luperosaurus (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from the Sierra Madre of Luzon Island, Philippines. Rafe M. Brown, Arvin C. Diesmos and Melizar V. Duya. Pp. 167-174.


  • Butterfly (Lepidoptera: Rhopalocera) distribution along an altitudinal gradient on Mount Tangkuban Parahu, West Java, Indonesia. S. S. Tati-Subahar, Anzilni F. Amasya and Devi N. Choesin. Pp. 175-178.
  • The latitudinal distribution of sphingid species richness in continental Southeast Asia: What causes the biodiversity ‘hot spot’ in Northern Thailand? Jan Beck, Ian J. Kitching and Jean Haxaire. Pp. 179-185.
  • Cooperative breeding in the puff-throated bulbul Alophoixus pallidus in Thailand. Andrew J. Pierce, Kihoko Tokue, Korakoch Pobprasert and Wangworn Sankamethawee. Pp. 187-189.
  • The role of birds in matter and energy flow in the ecosystem. Aeshita Mukherjee, B. Wilske and C. K. Borad. Pp. 191-194.
  • Rediscovering the Dugong (Dugong dugon) in Myanmar and capacity building for research and conservation. A. D. Ilangakoon and Tint Tun. Pp. 195-199.
  • Covarvariation in the great calls of rehabilitant and wild gibbons (Hylobates albibarbis). Susan M. Cheyne, David J. Chivers and Jito Sugardjito. Pp. 201-207.
  • A camera trapping inventory for mammals in a mixed use planted forest in Sarawak. Belden Giman, Robert Stuebing, Nyegang Megum, William J. Mcshea and Chad M. Stewart. Pp. 209-215.
  • The Javan Rhinoceros Rhinoceros sondaicus in Borneo. Earl of Cranbrook and Philip J. Piper. Pp. 217-220.


  • Fishes of Mongolia. A check-list of the fishes known to occur in mongolia with comments on Systematics and Nomenclature. Tan Heok Hui. Pp. 221.
  • Colugo. The Flying Lemurs of South-east Asia. Richard Corlett. Pp. 222.

The Celestial Danio, a highly anticipated species description by Tyson Roberts

The highly anticipated taxonomic description of the ‘celestial’ danio (aka Microrasbora ‘Galaxy’) is brought to you by the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology.

Roberts, T. R., 2007. The “Celestial Pearl Danio”, a new genus and species of colourful minute cyprinid fish from Myanmar (Pisces: Cypriniformes). The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, 55(1): 131-140. Click to download the 4.6 MB pdf.

This is incredibly colourful fish from Myanmar now has a scientific name. When this fish first appeared on the Internet forums, many thought that this fish was the result of an ardent Photoshopper. This fish caught the fish keeping world by storm with many people clamouring to get their hands on this elusive fish.

Tyson Roberts, who was visiting the museum last year, rushed to complete the description of this beautiful but now presumably endangered fish.

In his paper, he highlighted the critical situation of the fish – it is critically over-collected in the type locality which has also largely destroyed the habitat. He made an impassioned plea for aquarists to control and maintain this fish through the trade via artificial breeding rather than buying stock from the wild.

By Tan Swee Hee, Managing Editor, The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology.

It’s out! Chua Ee Kiam’s “Singapore Splendour – Life on the edge”

08 Feb 2007 – I walked into the museum to discover a signed copy of Chue Ee Kiam’s “Singapore Splendour – Life on the edge” on my table. What a wonderful surprise!

Last November, I got a glimpse of the book as Ee Kiam went through the text with museum staff to identify some organisms and make some last-minute edits. I’ve been waiting for it eagerly since as it was almost ready then!

I was surprised by the final product and have been carrying it around with me, heavy though it is, to let others I meet share a discovery of its wonderful, colourful photos of organisms, scenes of many of Singapore’s shorelines and faces of the community captured in the most delightful way.

I have to confess that I’ve yet to sit down to read the text but already the dust jacket is getting weathered! Once I do, expect reviews here.

Meanwhile, hop over to Simply Green.