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Butterfly Diversity At Admiralty Park Project

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Introduction

Admiralty Park, located in Woodlands, houses the largest nature area within an urban park in Singapore. With its wide range of habitat like mangrove and open grassland, it is also home to more than 100 species of flora and fauna and one of the perceptible species that could be found in the park are butterflies. Butterflies are indicators of healthy environment and healthy ecosystem. They provide a wide range of environmental benefits such as pollination and natural pest control. The research project aims to interest students in learning about nature and protecting the environment in their local communities as Admiralty Park is adjoining to Republic Polytechnic and monitor butterfly species and their numbers, to help determine the health of an ecosystem. This data collected will be shared with the National Parks Board (NParks).

Literature Review

Biodiversity of Butterflies

The study of butterflies by amateurs is not new, and indeed, it is through the observations of these dedicated individuals that there are more important data being accumulated over the years. The information on butterfly biodiversity in Singapore is almost inadequate. Only recently, a collaborative effort was made to study and establish the status of butterfly biodiversity in Singapore.

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With the continued support from the National Parks Board, there is an opportunity to launch a long-term butterfly biodiversity survey in Singapore that aims to improve the users’ knowledge and understanding of these beautiful creatures. Field surveys were conducted from 1990 to 1997 in and around various areas in Singapore. Of the 363 species, previously known species in Singapore, a total of 218 (or 60%) was accounted for. A further 18 new records were observed, making a total of 236 extant species. (Khew, S. K., & Steven, N. (1997).

Unique Life Cycle of Butterflies

Scientists estimate that about 15,000 butterfly species exist worldwide. They are found nearly everywhere in the world except Antarctica. Butterflies have lived on Earth for at least 150 million years. During its life cycle, a butterfly undergoes a complete metamorphosis during which it changes from a leaf-eating caterpillar to a nectar-sipping butterfly and this metamorphosis happens to most insects.

There are four stages in a butterfly’s metamorphosis. Every butterfly begins life as an egg. when the egg hatches, the larva emerges. After that, the caterpillar becomes a pupa and the final stage occurs when an adult butterfly finally pushes itself out of its chrysalis. When the butterfly breaks through, it must rest while it expands its wings to pump blood. Then, the adult butterfly is ready to fly and begin this cycle all over again by looking for a mate. (‘Butterflies.’ UXL Encyclopaedia of Science)

Importance of Butterflies

In a write up, it is known that butterflies have been identified as the ‘biotic-indicators’ for the species richness monitoring system in an ecosystem and similarly for forecasting the climatic change impacts on biodiversity. (2010, January 29) Changes in climate will impact butterflies because temperature changes and rainfall amounts may alter migration patterns and timing. Loss or fragmentation of habitat increases predation which also affects migration. Korpella, R. (2017, April 24).

So why are butterflies the best indicator? Healthy presence of butterflies ensures the healthy status of a forest ecosystem. (2010, January 29).

Methodology

Training Session

On 19th august 2017, the team attended the Butterfly Watch programme that was conducted by the National Parks Board at the Botanical Gardens arranged by their supervisors Ms. Uma and Mr. Clayton, to help the team understand better about the biodiversity of butterflies, the importance of butterflies, the types and population of butterfly in Singapore. In addition, they also taught them how to differentiate butterflies and moths as both are from the lepidoptery family.

Pollard Walk Method

For the team’s project, they did a survey about the butterflies that could be identified at Admiralty Park through a survey method called Pollard Walk which was introduced to the team by the training guide. Pollard Walk is basically walking 200 meters for about 20 minutes from point A to point B to look out for butterflies. As the team walked along, the guide described about the butterfly species that were seen at Botanic Gardens.

Survey Transect Location

After the training session, the team’s supervisors led them on their first recce at Admiralty Park on 12 September 2017. During the recce, the team looked out for possible locations where butterflies could be found for their Pollard Walk. From the training session, the team understood that butterflies usually appear from 9am to 12pm when there is sunlight. Taking this information into consideration, they had an idea on how to identify for butterflies at Admiralty park. The team recced the entire park several times to spot butterflies and look out for areas where sunlight was exposed to the plants or flowers that butterflies were attracted to. With that, the team finalized three surveys transect location base on the number of butterflies seen, areas where there were more flowers or visible host plants where caterpillars usually eat the leaves and the accessibility of the area. As Pollard Walk required 200 meters for the route, the team used Google maps to point out the survey transect locations for accurate distance and to point out the start and end of the location.

Data Sheet Design

To monitor the types of butterfly and their population, the team designed a data sheet to tabulate the results. In the design of the data sheet, the team broke down into 6 columns of key aspects to take into consideration which are weather, location, picture of species, name of species, count and date and time. Weather is an important factor because it helps the team to be able to track which weather is the most suitable to spot butterflies. For locations, the team have already found out the three routes for the Pollard Walk but however, each location may have different type of butterflies depending on the environment of the location. Upon tabulating the results some flowers or plants at the three locations attract different type of butterflies. This helps target audience know what type of butterflies could be found at the various locations.

Next, the team included pictures of species. Pictures of the species helps to identify the type of the species better as some of the butterflies tend to have similar features but are classified differently. So, when the pictures of the butterflies are collated, the team can differentiate how they look like. The team put in the name of species so that when they identify the butterflies it will be helpful to put the information on the website for the users. Having count as a key aspect is important because the team can identify which is the most common butterfly that could be spotted at the different locations although it may not accurately give the overall population of the butterfly at the park.

Lastly, date & time helps to keep track of when the Pollard Walk is done and find out which timing of the day do the different butterflies appear. As discussed, the team planned to conduct the Pollard Walk survey twice a week but due to circumstances like bad weather the team could not do the survey. However, the team have recorded the survey every fortnightly.

Identification Guide

The way the team conducted the Pollard Walk survey was to go to the first location, walk 200 meters from point A to point B in a steady pace for 20 minutes while taking pictures with their cameras that they used which are Canon EOS 60D, Canon EOS 550D, Olympus OM-D E-M 10, Olympus OM-D E-M 10 MK II and iPhone 7 plus and count the butterflies spotted within the band. Likewise, for the remaining two locations the team use the same method. Also, the team chose different timing to do the Pollard Walk to determine which timing is the active period for different types of butterflies.

The reason why the team chose Pollard Walk is because it is not intrusive. It does not require butterflies to be captured or be harmed in any way possible. The identification guides the team used were, Butterfly Circle, Nature Society Singapore Butterfly List and SGBioatlasAPP. The identification guide helped the team find out what are the types of butterflies that was spotted at the chosen locations of Admiralty Park and the photos taken were used to compare with the butterflies in the websites.

Selecting Target Audience

How the team selected the target audience was based on Pavithran’s internship experience with Yew Tee Primary School. The primary 1 and 2 students have a compulsory curriculum called Programme of Active Learning where they learn about outdoor education. So, the team felt that this project was a good platform to let neighbouring schools near Admiralty Park to use as a classroom for their learning of flora and fauna of the parks to improve their knowledge on outdoor education. The target audience are children from the age of seven to ten years old so therefore the team implemented the website to be attractive. The team used bright vivid colours for the website, interactive elements such as educational games, pictures, keeping the website less wordy and using simpler words for lower primary students to understand. Overall, the team want students or the public to have interest in learning about nature and protecting the environment in their local community such as Admiralty Park.

Evaluation

Butterfly Data Analysis

The guiding question for my team’s final year project is to identify different types of butterfly species that could be found in Admiralty Park and create a website with information on the butterflies found. To identify the butterflies and their numbers that the team have spotted, the team created a data sheet with reference to the data sheet done by NParks to conduct and tabulate our Pollard Walk results. Over a period of one month, the team headed over to Admiralty Park to conduct the Pollard Walk survey to identify the type and numbers of butterfly species spotted.

One of the key factors the team took into considerations was weather. Based on our research in the early stages, the team found out that butterflies appear frequently when the weather is sunny or cloudy. The team aimed to find as many butterflies as possible so the team decided that it was better to conduct the survey when the weather for the day is sunny or cloudy as more butterflies could be spotted.

Butterfly Analysis

Over a period of one month of doing the Pollard Walk survey, the team analysed that there were a total population of 146 butterflies that are of from 21 different species. The most commonly found butterfly was Common Grass Yellow with a total count of 64. It was mostly found in location A and C.

Location A and C has almost the same number of butterflies identified, 53 and 52 respectively. Furthermore, location A and C has a higher population of butterflies as compared to location B with only 41 butterflies.

Method of Evaluation for Prototype

The team created the website with the key aspect of helping Ministry of Education (MOE) school students from the age of seven to ten years old for their Programme for Active Learning (PAL) lessons which has the element of outdoor education. The website is also for the teachers to use as material during lessons.

The method of evaluation that the team chose was to conduct a survey questionnaire via Google forms. This is because, survey questionnaires are quick, easy to use and can be administered immediately after the course. The team decided that they should come out with pre-design survey and evaluation survey questions to help them create the website.

Profile of the Survey Participants

The team collected a total of 40 responses from students through friends, family, relatives and the kids age seven to ten years old who visited Admiralty Park. The team requested permission from their parents to allow their children to complete the survey for us. The team guided some of the students as they did the survey while others who did the survey online were guided by their parents. Likewise, for the teacher’s survey, the team collected a total of 22 responses from teachers whom they knew from previous schools and facilitators from Republic Polytechnic (RP)

Results & Discussion of Survey for Students

82.5% of respondents found that the website was easy to understand. This is to ensure that our website is clear and simple since our target users are students aged seven to ten years old. The team asked students about what they liked about the website so that the team can improved the lacking elements in the website. The top three elements that the student liked were pictures (61.5%), colour of the website (38.5%) and games (33.3%).

Results & Discussion of survey for teachers

The team asked the teachers to rate on a scale of 1-5 (1 being strongly disagree and 5 being strongly agree) on whether the contents of the website are sufficient for the students’ learning process. The team can conclude that, 50% of the teachers rated it as 3 (neutral), 31.8% rated 4 (agree) and 18.2% rated 2 (disagree). This tells us that the contents in the website can be further improved to maximize the students’ learning.

The team asked the teachers what kind of elements they would like to see to help students’ learning. There were many useful suggestions such as including more videos, photos, interactive activities, more information on butterflies, printable notes, games, animation and aesthetics. Videos was the most suggested element but all the stated elements can be implemented in the website.

The top three suggestions were, making the website less wordy, including more pictures as well as making the content more colourful.

Recommendation for Improvements

Improving the Content of the Website

Teachers found that the content could have been more sufficient. The team felt that the website can improve in terms of quality, quantity and variety of content. In terms of the quality, information of butterflies can be more in depth and relatable to what they are learning in school. The team then decided to include information about the life cycle of butterflies.

Improvements for quantity would be having more well elaborated facts in the website and descriptions of the different butterflies. So, the team showed pictures of the butterflies and tell viewers about their name and number of species that could be found in Admiralty Park. Another improvement was, the team created an interactive video featuring the butterflies that the team can spot in the Admiralty Park.

Improvements for variety was instead of having just one or two games, the team decided to include more variety games to attract the students, as well as enhancing their knowledge by providing more information in the games.

Elements to Enhance the Website

Currently, the website has pictures, games and some information relating to butterflies. To further attract the students, these elements can be tweaked to enhance the appearance of the website. An example would be, having vivid colours to attract the attention of the students as seen from the survey, they would like to see more colours.

The team concludes that, by the implementations mentioned above, the teachers and students will find that the website will be a useful learning resource

Limitations

In the survey results, it was mentioned that adding animations or 3D graphics will help captivate the student’s attention and entice them to visit the website more. However, since the team is not expert in creating animated games or 3D websites, the team added images of games and described how it is played.

Another limitation would be, since it is only a website, it will require students to use computer or tablets to access our website. Some students may not have such accessibility at home so it limits to them only using the website at school.

If teachers would like to use iPads at Admiralty Park, it can be a limitation. Certain schools have access to the usage of iPad for learning purposes in school. However, some schools may have a policy of not bringing the iPad out of school in case of any possible damage that could occur.

Disclaimer

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