Rapid biodiversity change is contributing to the spread of old and new diseases, increased vulnerability of food systems and supply chains, and growing threats and costs to economic productivity. Climate change and environmental degradation have amplified this problem in Southeast Asia, a region home to the Coral Triangle and among the world’s richest centres of biodiversity. Yet one of the most consequential drivers of rapid biodiversity change has been the historical introduction of alien species and their naturalisation and establishment (i.e., naturalised species). Through the lens of naturalised species and their historical vectors, this project will explore how and why this growing environmental problem of rapid biodiversity change impacts health security, food security and economic security in Singapore and Southeast Asia. These vectors include, for example, climate change, monsoon cycles and land-use change. The research team will leverage digital humanities methods and new historical source materials to answer these interrelated questions. The use of innovative methods and new materials will dramatically scale up our naturalised species database and data visualisation platform – what the team collectively refers to as The Singapore and Southeast Asia Historical Biodiversity Database and Platform. These digital tools will support interdisciplinary research; enable the GIS-based multi-layered visualisation of rapid biodiversity change and its negative impacts; a more powerful analysis of naturalised species; historical vectors and their impacts on health security, food security and economic security in Singapore and Southeast Asia from the early 19th century to the present; innovate teaching in the digital and environmental humanities; and facilitate public outreach and policy engagement.
This is a project in partnership with the Asia Research Institute at NUS, NUS Department of Geography, NUS Libraries, NUS Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM), National Parks Board (NParks/Singapore Botanic Gardens), National Library Board (NLB), Oxford University Museum of Natural History (OUMNH), and University of the Philippines Diliman.