Environmental Monitoring and Dynamics

Marine MonitoringEffective marine environmental planning in Singapore requires holistic ecosystem approaches that incorporate quality datasets on physical, chemical and ecological aspects and forecasts from realistic numerical hydrodynamic and water quality modelling. The Environmental Monitoring and Dynamics programme at TMSI focuses on fundamental as well as downstream applied research, built on the development of baseline knowledge and expertise pertaining to Singapore’s marine environment. Key activities include environmental monitoring of Singapore’s port waters, environmental assessments, fundamental and strategic research. This team currently consists of members from several different research groups in TMSI .

Our core strengths lie in environmental and disturbance ecology, sampling and experimental design, multivariate analyses of large datasets, taxonomy of selected groups as well as parataxonomy of other taxa. We are also developing capability in data-driven modeling of biota. The programme leverages heavily on expertise developed within individual groups at TMSI, collaborating closely with scientists from both hydro-informatics and biological disciplines on commercial and research projects.

Many of our projects are conducted for government-linked agencies including JTC, PUB, Surbana, MPA, NEA, MINDEF and NParks. We provide expertise in areas such as Ecological Assessment, Rapid Biodiversity Assessment, Water and sediment quality and Ecological Monitoring.

We achieve the diverse objectives of these projects by strategic collaborations that provide complementary strengths and broader opportunities. Local research partners include the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, the Institute of Environmental Science and Engineering, Centre for Remote Sensing Imaging and Processing and the Faculty of Medicine. International collaborators have included the US Coast Guard, Biosecurity New Zealand, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Centre, Deltares.


Environmental Monitoring

Monitoring of marine and coastal water and sediment quality has been undertaken for various government-linked agencies since 2001. A combination of in-situ sensors and field sample collection is used to monitor key physical, chemical and biological variables.

Field sampling (L-R): Plankton haul, rosette with CTD probe, benthic sampling

Ecological monitoring of macrobenthic communities and coral reefs

These activities provide baseline and ecological characterisation of our port waters and allow for reliable detection of changes due to coastal infrastructure development and discharges into the marine system. In addition, the data allows us to identify key processes and links between biota and the abiotic environment to further our understanding of fundamental processes and dynamics in the ecosystem.

Some benthic organisms obtained using Van Veen grab
 The datasets generated are also integral to the calibration and validation of the various numerical models developed in TMSI for forecasting and prediction of changes in water quality and hydrodynamics. Predicted changes are then analysed in relation to ecological information and species tolerances in Environmental Impact Statements and Environmental Assessments.

Environmental Assessments

We regularly perform Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements for coastal urban development for several government agencies with regard to potential impacts on the marine environment arising from reservoir creation, coastal expansion, discharges from water reclamation plants and desalination plants. Assessments are conducted based on following process (i) creating spatially referenced maps of ecosystem/ key taxa distribution and predicted impact sources; (ii) relating predicted concentrations to environmental response curves developed for ecosystems and key taxa. Environmental Monitoring and Management Programmes, with recommendations for compliance monitoring, mitigation and rehabilitation are subsequently implemented for verification and quantification of actual change and causality.


We focus on directed research that leverages on integrated environmental and ecological datasets with the aim of understanding and predicting the responses of biological systems to variable environmental conditions, and to achieve a more holistic approach to environmental assessment, management and planning. This includes the development of spatially-referenced ecosystem classification schemes, predictive ecological models that take a national-level approach to marine environmental research and planning. Current research directions include:-

•    Developing biotic indicators of environmental condition in macrobenthic communities
o    Deriving linkages between environmental and biotic variables to identify indicator taxa for specific issues such as organic pollution
o    Higher-order indicators such as Abundance-Biomass Comparisons and Neutral models
•    Examining the implications of resource specialisation on organisms
o    Numerical and distributional rarity
o    Susceptibility to impacts
•    Coral-algal dynamics
o    Implications on reef health, growth and alternative stable states

•    Quantitative predictions of community change
o    Tolerance, Resilience and Recovery of key ecosystems and ecosystem engineers to impacts and environmental changes

Team Members

Ahmad Syukri Bin Othman
Ahmed S/O A. Aliyar
Ang Hwee Peng, Serene
Oh Zhao Lan, Beverly
Jani Thuaibah Isa Tanzil
Karanam A P Roopsekhar
Lee Ai Chin, Michelle
Lee Chun Hao
Lee Cosin
Marimuthu Bharanidharan
Mohamad Noh Anuar Bin Mohd Ras
Mohamed Faizal Bin Mohd Samsi
Sin Tsai Min
Soon Wei Ming, Shaun
Suryati Binte Mohamed Ali
Tan Hui Theng
Wong Lian Jie
Yeo Yin Sheng, Wilson

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