The Landscape Company Register Online System is now accessible. Please click here for the new link.
Button to close the announcement bar

Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research (LTSER) Programme


Launched in 2021, the Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research Programme (LTSER) aims to monitor, document, and understand the socio-ecological changes in Singapore occurring over long timescales. With Singapore’s ongoing transformation into a City in Nature, set against the backdrop of increasing urbanisation and climate change, it is timely to strengthen our understanding of the processes, functions, and services of our ecosystems, their responses to various environmental and anthropogenic drivers, as well as the mechanisms underlying these responses. LTSER brings together a focused set of interdisciplinary research projects that leverage dedicated long-term study sites and repeated studies to collect and analyse long-term data in three focal domains – urban biodiversity, biogeochemical and biophysical, and socio-behavioural. Through capturing a wealth of socio-ecological data over time and space, the insights generated will help strengthen our predictive capabilities and inform the development of science-based solutions, policies, and programmes, to ultimately bolster Singapore’s climate, ecological, and social resilience.

Globally, Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) programmes have been implemented in many countries around the world and have been demonstrated to have higher scientific impact and stronger application in environmental policy. This is because ecological processes tend to span broad spatio-temporal scales and be subject to both stochastic and deterministic forces, making it only possible for long-term studies to uncover patterns and identify the forces at play. LTSER is one of few LTER programmes in the tropics and with an urban focus.

Research Approach

Focal domains

Research and monitoring efforts under LTSER are centred around three focal domains:

  • Urban biodiversity – Urban biodiversity refers to the biotic component of our ecosystems – the richness and diversity of living organisms inhabiting our natural ecosystems and urban green spaces. These studies aim to enhance our ability to conserve Singapore’s biodiversity in the long term, in the face of urbanisation and climate change.
  • Biogeochemical and biophysical – These studies seek to understand the abiotic component of our ecosystems – the flow and stock of materials and energy. LTSER will focus on determining the baseline levels of carbon, nutrient, water, and energy cycles in Singapore, how these levels change through the implementation of City in Nature initiatives, and how the changes might strengthen the resilience of Singapore’s ecosystems and enhance the implementation of nature-based solutions.
  • Socio-behavioural – These studies focus on understanding the shifts in values, beliefs, and social norms arising from City in Nature initiatives. They will examine how these shifts can lead to changes in behavioural patterns and human-nature relationships, and how they can generate positive societal outcomes such as individual and community well-being, social cohesion, national pride and identity, and environmental stewardship.

Long-term sites

LTSER’s studies are primarily concentrated within designated long-term sites. These comprise nine terrestrial sites, identified based on their ecological significance, proximity to key green areas, presence of long-term data records, as well as anticipated changes in green cover in the coming years attributing to ongoing or planned City in Nature initiatives. LTSER will also leverage opportunities, where suitable, to undertake comparative studies across several sites, such as along a gradient from more natural to more built-up. In addition, a number of projects will assess changes at the city or population level. The spatial scales covered will vary depending on individual projects’ research objectives.


1) Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (BTNR)

2) Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) (including Nee Soon Swamp Forest)

3) Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR), Mandai Mangrove and Mudflat

4) Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG)

5) Bishan-Ang Mo Kio

6) Jurong Lakeside District

7) Pulau Ubin

8) Bukit Batok-Tengah Nature Corridor

9) Sungei Kadut-Kranji


(Click thumbnail photo to enlarge)

Basemap Source: Google Map

Examples of Ongoing Projects

The table below provides a summary of the ongoing LTSER projects

S/N Project Focal domain(s) Long-term sites Project Summary

Long-Term Forest Ecological Monitoring in Singapore (LTFEM)

Urban biodiversity, biophysical and biogeochemical Central Catchment Nature Reserve This project aims to establish and maintain a network of permanent forest plots for long-term monitoring of tree recruitment, growth, survival, and phenology, as well as ecosystem processes such as primary production and associated carbon and nutrient cycling. This will advance our understanding of the ecological performance of forest fragments and inform the development of strategies for long-term forest management.

Assessment of Mammal and Bird Diversity, Abundance, and Plant-Frugivore Interactions in Singapore’s Forests

Urban biodiversity Central Catchment Nature Reserve This project will provide an updated assessment of bird and mammal abundance and diversity in the nature reserves and nature parks, making use of the LTFEM forest plots (Project 1) to combine faunal monitoring with vegetation monitoring. Understanding the interactions between faunal and floral species, such as frugivory and seed dispersal, will provide valuable information for species recovery programmes and forest restoration efforts.

Long-term Phenological Monitoring in the Singapore Botanic Gardens

Urban biodiversity Singapore Botanic Gardens Ongoing since the 1920s, this study collects long-term data on the phenology of selected botanical specimens in the Singapore Botanic Gardens, allowing the correlations between phenological changes and climatic changes over time to be explored and the impact of phenological changes on ecological functions to be studied.

Long-term research on shorebirds and passerines at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Mandai Mudflat, and other wetland sites

Urban biodiversity Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Mandai Mangrove and Mudflat Ongoing since 1990, this project makes use of bird census and bird ringing to assess the changes in bird abundance, diversity, biometrics, and movement, and to develop guidelines for the long-term management of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and surrounding habitats.

Long-term Socio-Behavioural Impacts of City in Nature

Socio-behavioural City-wide This study seeks to collect baseline data on the values, beliefs, and norms of Singapore residents towards nature, examine the impact of nature on social outcomes, and understand the mechanisms underpinning the relationship between nature and well-being.

Grant Calls

A Research Collaboration Opportunity (RCO) for the topic "Determination of nutrient and water budgets and surface energy fluxes in urban and forest ecosystems" has been launched on 15 March 2024. More details on the RCO can be found here.

Contact Us

For enquiries and potential collaborations, please contact Sorain at