A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge -- Introduction
The type of vegetation found on the Ridge is known as
dumosa is its characteristicallymost commonly found tree, and 'belukar' is Malay for secondaryforest. Secondary forest is forest that grows on ground that hasbeen previously cleared of its original vegetation (primaryforest) or disturbed significantly. It is different from primaryvegetation in many ways. For example, the species of plantsgrowing in secondary forests are different from those in primaryforests, and are more adapted to life in its different conditions.These different conditions include increased light intensity,lower humidity, higher temperatures, etc. In order to surviveand be successful, plants in secondary forests also have to growquickly and be easily and widely dispersed, so that they maycolonize newly disturbed ground before other plants do.
belukar is found on degraded land, whereas anothertype of belukar, Trema belukar, dominated by
sp. andsimilar plants is found in naturally occurring gaps in primaryforest, where the soil is still rich in nutrients and not degraded.
belukar was first qualitatively described by Holttum(1954a), and later by Sim et al (1992). Wee and Corlett (1986)have given a semi-popular account of secondary vegetation inSingapore, and Corlett (1991) has described the various stagesof development in Singapore's secondary vegetation based onstudies in the Central Catchment area. In general, belukar hasseveral distinct differences from primary forest. Firstly, itsfloristic diversity is much lower, with more plants per speciesper unit area than primary forest. Secondly, temperature andhumidity fluctuations are much greater. The belukar is highlyexposed to the elements, hence in the day it is very warm andduring the night it is very cool. It is much drier too, for thebelukar's average minimum relative humidity is 62% whereasprimary forests experience at least 76%. Thirdly, the soil ismuch poorer, lacking various nutrients due to its previous uses.Rain and other erosive agents wash away humus and organicmaterial as well. In short, belukar is hotter, drier, and poorerthan primary forests. Its various aspects are explored in detail
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