The Mangrove Lab

Geomorphology : ecology : ecosystems services : remote sensing


10th June 2016 - Dan was in Bonn, Germany for a workshop on ecosystem-based solutions to Disaster Risk Reduction. This workshop was hosted by the United Nations University and the United Nations Environment Programme, and brought together academics, engineers, managers and policy makers from across the globe to answer the question of how best to increase the incorporation of ecosystems into engineering and management structures.

10th May 2016 - Dan was in Darwin, Australia for the 2nd Australian Mangrove and Saltmarsh Network conference. Hosted by our friends at Charles Darwin University, this event brought together 60 researchers, decision makers and local community members to address threats to Australia's and Southeast Asia's wetlands.

10th May 2016 - Pierre has returned to Singapore after 6 months of field and lab work in Vietnam and Canada. Pierre has been investigating dissolved carbon and nutrient exchanges in Can Gio mangrove, working with the French Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement and the Canadian Universite du Quebec a Montreal.

28th Feb 2016 - the Mangrove Lab, joined by friends from Charles Darwin University in Australia, have recently been in southwest Thailand measuring the vulnerability of mangroves to sea level rise. We have been working here for 4 years, and return every 6 months to measure a series of Rod Surface Elevation Tables, that monitor millimetre changes in the elevation of the mangrove surface. We were also looking at potential mangrove and seagrass sites to conduct carbon stock and flux assessments. It's muddy work, but somebody's got to do it!

6th Jan 2016 - our recent study on mangrove deforestation, led by Dr. Dan Richards and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has received extensive media attention. This includes BBC News, the BBC World Service, Singapore 93.8FM, and several national newspapers in Southeast Asia. Check out the Media Coverage page for access to newspaper links and radio recordings!

24th Dec 2015 - Merry Christmas from the Mangrove Lab! We've had a lot of fun this year researching mangroves, and have lots more to look forward to in 2016!

17th Nov 2015 - The MMM4 international mangrove conference is being held in Florida in July 2016. To ensure greater geographic representation, the Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography has provided two travel awards and mentorship opportunities for developing nation early career researchers. Click here for more details!

16th Oct 2015 - our regional analysis of mangrove vulnerability to sea level rise has been published in the journal Nature. Led by Prof Cath Lovelock at the University of Queensland, we show that almost 70% of mangroves are currently NOT keeping pace with sea level rise, and will be severely threatened by 2070. Mangrove resilience is further reduced by the damming of rivers such as the Mekong. We continue to expand this regional network, if you want your country involved then join us!

28th Sept 2015 - Dan and Ben have just returned from Kenya, where they were teaching on a field trip for the NUS module GE4220 Field Investigation in Physical Geography, led by Prof David Taylor. Driving through the Great Rift Valley with 16 undergraduate students, the team investigated El Nino-linked flooding events in Lake Baringo, biodiversity conflicts in Lake Bogoria and poaching in Nakuru National Park.

18th Sept 2015 - Dan has spent the last 4 weeks in the small fishing village of Tampolove, SW Madagascar with Drs Ivan and Helen Scales from the University of Cambridge, UK, as well as colleagues in Madagascar. In collaboration with the NGO Blue Ventures, the group were quantifying mangrove tree harvesting rates, and understanding the socioeconomic drivers of harvesting and deforestation. And yes, they also saw some lemurs.

4th Aug 2015 - Ben and Dan F were recently in Langkawi, Malaysia with tourism geographer Dr. Jamie Gillen, where we were investigating ecotourism practices in the Kilim Forest Geopark. We were interested in the types of ecotourism employed in the Geopark, how tourism operators cooperate and compete, and the potential impact of ecotourism on the mangrove ecosystem.

26th June 2015 - Dan F was in Koh Samui, Gulf of Thailand with colleagues from NUS Geography and Zayed University, United Arab Emirates. We were measuring coral boulders that have washed up onto the shore. When coupled with Uranium/Thorium dating and hydrodynamic equations, these boulders can help us estimate the return period of extreme wave events such as typhoons.

19th June 2015 - Dan F recently travelled to the Pacific atoll of Ouvea, off the coast of New Caledonia. Dan joined an international team from the New Zealand Institute for Water and Atmosphere, the US Geological Survey, the University of Queensland and IRD to identify potential study sites to monitor mangrove vulnerability to sea level rise. Atolls may be at particular risk as they do not receive sediment from outside sources, which would otherwise help mangroves keep pace with sea level rise.

28th April 2015 - Dan F was in Chicago for the 2015 Association of American Geographers conference. Dan presented at the Presidential Plenary on the theme of 'radical intradisciplinarity', and gave a presentation on how to reconcile physical and human ecosystem services. The AAG is the largest geography conference, with over 9000 attendees.

25th March 2015 - Dan F and Ben were recently in Langkawi, Malaysia, where we were investigating mangrove vulnerability to sea level rise. This project utilizes the Rod Surface Elevation Table (RSET) method. This is a multi-national project sponsored by the Asian-Pacific Network for Global Change Research, and involves collaborators from Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Australia.

28th Feb 2015 - the Mangrove Lab were invited to write an opinion piece for the Straits TImes - Singapore's national newspaper. This article introduces the concept of ecosystem services, and how they can be used to better incorporate coastal ecosystems into decision-making. To read the full article click here!

28th Feb 2015 - Dan F, Dan R and Ben have just returned from Trang Province, Thailand, where we were assessing the vulnerability of mangroves to sea level rise. We were measuring the Rod Surface Elevation Tables that we installed here in July 2012. We also visited the Government Biodiversity-Based Economic Development Office in Bangkok, to discuss their plans for mangrove Payments for Ecosystem Services schemes in southern Thailand.

21st Jan 2015 - the Mangrove Lab recently ran a 2 day field trip in collaboration with the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT. This trip spent the first day looking at coastal management and reclamation sites along the north coast of Singapore, before travelling to Malaysia to explore new coastal reclamations, and discussing possible transboundary issues.

12th Jan 2015 - Dan was interviewed by BFM 89.9 (Malaysian national radio station), talking about the current status of Southeast Asian ecosystems, their important ecosystem services, and novel mechanisms for their conservation, such as Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES). Click here to listen!

11th Dec 2014 - Dan R's research on cultural ecosystem service mapping has been featured on the BBC news website. The BBC covered Dan's presentation at the British Ecological Society meeting, where he presented a novel method to rapidly quantify cultural ecosystem services using social media photographs. Click here to read the news article!

1st Dec 2014 - The Center for International Forestry Research, based in Bogor, Indonesia, have created a video of our recent trip to West Papua. While we were there we installed several RSETs to measure surface elevation change and mangrove vulnerability to sea level rise. Watch us fly drones, fall in the mud, and narrowly avoid being eaten by crocodiles! Click here to view!

11th Nov 2014 - Dan and Grahame Oliver officially launched their new text book "Dynamic Environments of Singapore" at the Bookhaven book store. This book covers the Singapore's geology, the development of its coastal and terrestrial habitats, and what may happen to Singapore's in the future. Read a review here!

9th Nov 2014 - Dan was in London for the 2nd meeting of the IUCN Mangrove Specialist Group - an awesome group dedicated to conserving mangroves! It started with a 2 day symposium, where Dan presented on the Indo-Pacific mangrove and sea level rise network.

8th Nov 2014 - Dan was recently interviewed about the Lab's research on mangroves and their response to sea level rise, which has been featured on the National University of Singapore website - click here for more info!

29th Oct 2014 - Rachel has just returned from Turkey, where she was attending the 3rd International Symposium on Integrated Coastal Zone Management. Rachel presented her Masters research on mapping the geomorphological thresholds to mangrove restoration in abandoned shrimp ponds in Makassar, Sulawesi, Indonesia, which she will be finishing up at the end of this year. There were almost 100 presentations at the conference, and Rachel's talk was judged by the conference organizers to win the Best Oral Presentation award! Well done!

1st Oct 2014 - Dan was in Cambodia, teaching on the GE4221 module Field Investigation in Human Geography. Based in the fishing village of Koh Sra Lao, we looked at the natural resource management of mangroves, including fisheries, carbon and illegal sand mining. This field module was organized by Carl Grundy-Warr (NUS) and the Royal University of Pnom Penh.

20th Sept 2014 - Dan was in the Philippines with collaborators from Hawaii, Malaysia and Indonesia, dodging typhoons and installing the first Rod Surface Elevation Tables (RSETs) in the Philippines. These instruments will help to estimate the vulnerability of mangroves here to sea level rise. This project is currently funded by the Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research, and is led by Sev Salmo at Ateneo de Manila University.

24th Aug 2014 - The Lab were in Melaka, Malaysia, for the Asia Chapter meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology. The Lab were busy - we presented several talks and posters, and hosted a symposium on "Ecosystem Services of Threatened Mangroves in Southeast Asia" with invited mangrove researchers from across the region.

28th July 2014 - The Mangrove Lab have been busy with fieldwork this summer! Pierre has been on a summer school in Europe, Leon has returned from 3 weeks of field surveys in Myanmar, Rachel has been measuring shrimp ponds and mangrove restoration success in Sulawesi, and last week the two Dans and Leon were measuring surface elevation change using the RSETs installed in Thailand.

11th July 2014 - The Mangrove Lab and the Centre for International Law are looking for an experienced GIS analyst for a 3 month, full-time position. The successful candidate will be creating a database of critical coastal and marine habitats for oil spill response teams. You'll also need to liaise with several government and industrial partners. Sounds like fun? The application deadline is the 28th of July, click here for more info!

1st July 2014 - The Mangrove Lab has a new addition! Dr. Dan Richards graduated from the University of Sheffield, UK, and joins us a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Dan will be modelling the provision and trade offs of coastal ecosystem services under different development scenarios around the coast of Singapore.

28th June 2014 - Dan was recently in Brisbane, Australia, discussing mangroves and sea level rise with colleagues at the University of Queensland, University of Wollongong, NIWA, US Geological Survey, Department of Fisheries and Marine Affairs Indonesia, and many other places! We have all been using the Rod Surface Elevation Table as a standardised method to assess mangrove vulnerability to sea level rise. See our recent Nature Climate Change article on this topic.

14th June 2014 - A bunch of the Mangrove Lab were at the ASEAN Symposium on Intertidal Conservation, with a particular focus on the stability of coastal ecosystems for migratory birds. Dan presented on the use of the Rod Surface Elevation Table to monitor the vulnerability of bird reserves and ramsar sites to sea level rise.

8th June 2014 - Dan and Val were in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand, with Prof Alan Ziegler and 25 students from NUS on the annual Geography Department Field Studies module. We were surveying waterfall topography, measuring river flows and digging (lots of!) soil pits!

18th May 2014 - Dan has just returned from fieldwork in Bintuni Bay, West Papua, working with CIFOR (Bogor, Indonesia) and the University of Papua. Bintuni Bay is the 3rd largest mangrove in the world, and only accessible by Cessna and boat! We were installing Rod Surface Elevation Tables to measure long-term mangrove response to sea level rise. Bintuni is a relatively untouched mangrove ecosystem, though may be threatened in the future by oil and gas exploration.

15th April 2014 - the Mangrove Lab were busy presenting their research today in NUS at the Graduate Research Workshop. Val was talking about mangrove and seagrass carbon stocks, Pierre enthralled everyone with his project on mangrove carbon fluxes, and Wei Kit explored themes related to the coastal protection value of mangroves in Singapore. And now everyone else in the room wants to be a mangrove researcher!

18th March 2014 - Val, Sonia, Dan and other members of NUS Geography have been taking subtidal soil cores off the coast of East Singapore. To do this we had to use a gravity corer off the side of a boat! This is part of Val's Masters project on the carbon stocks of the different intertidal habitats of Singapore. As well as the subtidal mudflats, Val has also been calculating the carbon stock stored in mangroves and seagrass.

2nd March 2014 - Come join the Mangrove Lab at the Society for Conservation Biology's Asia Chapter meeting from 19th-22nd August in Melaka, Malaysia. We are chairing a symposium on "Ecosystem Services of Threatened Mangroves in Southeast Asia". If you'd like to present send us an email! More info at

28th Feb 2014 - Dan was at James Cook University for the Australian Mangrove Society conference. This meeting brought together academics, researchers, government, NGOs and citizen scientists to discuss the state of Australia's coastal zone, and share new research on mangroves. Dan presented our current project on propagule dispersal modelling.

21st Feb 2014 - Rachel and Dan were in Bogor, Indonesia, for a workshop on "Restoring Coastal Livelihoods". The workshop was hosted by Mangrove Action Project and CIFOR, and brought together academics, government, NGOs and other stakeholders to discuss mangrove management and restoration. Rachel presented her Masters research on restoration in Sulawesi, and Dan gave a few presentations on how to monitor mangrove vulnerability to sea level rise, and how to use Google Earth to monitor mangrove encroachment.

17th Jan 2014 - Dan and Grahame Oliver have just written the book "Dynamic Environments of Singapore", published by McGraw Hill. Over 15 chapters, this book covers Singapore's numerous coastal, terrestrial and aquatic environments, and the geological and biophysical processes that shape them. We also ask "what will Singapore's environment look like in the future?" Read a review of this book here!

12th Jan 2014 - The Mangrove Lab has just returned from fieldwork in Southern Thailand. We were remeasuring Rod Surface Elevation Tables (RSETs): these instruments are drilled into the bedrock and measure surface elevation change in the mangrove, as a response to sea level rise. We also conducted the maiden flight of our new UAV to collect aerial imagery of the mangrove!

22nd Dec 2013 - we're finishing up the year with a few publications that are now available online. If you're interested in variability in mangrove change estimates (Global Ecology and Biogeography), mangrove deforestation in the Ayerwaddy Delta (Global Environmental Change) or rapid creek erosion due to wetland restoration (Geomorphology) then download them from the Publications page!

12th Dec 2013 - Valerie and Dan were in Jakarta for the 1st International Workshop on Blue Carbon Indonesia. This workshop was hosted by the Department of Fisheries and Marine Affairs, Blue Carbon Indonesia, GIZ and Conservation International. The goal is to create and implement a National Science Plan for Blue Carbon.

27th Nov 2013 - The environmental news service Mongabay covered our recent paper "Deforestation in the Ayeyarwady Delta and the conservation implications of an internationally-engaged Myanmar", recently published in Global Environmental Change. It reports a study where we documented mangrove loss in the context of recent and future reforms in Myanmar. See the story here and the paper here

20th Oct 2013 - Dan was in London for the kick off meeting for the newly formed IUCN Mangrove Specialist Group, hosted by the Zoological Society of London. This is an exciting new group of mangrove experts from around the world bridging the gaps between academia and conservation, and representing mangroves in international policy.

26th Sept 2013 - Dan is giving a public talk at the Science Centre Cafe next week, entitled: "Biophysical Threats to the Mangrove Swamps of Southeast Asia". Dan will talk about the biophysical processes that threaten mangroves, and how we need to understand these processes in order to manage them.

When: 1st October, 7pm

Where: The Science Centre, Singapore (entry fee applies)

25th Sept 2013 - Rachel has spent the last 3 weeks in Sulawesi, working on the preparation for a large mangrove restoration project due to take place in November. Together with colleagues from Mangrove Action Project and student volunteers from Universiti Hassanudin, Rachel mapped the elevation of abandoned shrimp ponds and natural mangrove forests. This information can be used to predict restoration success. Rachel will be flying back there soon!

31st Aug 2013 - along with Sivasothi in Biology, we held the Mandai Mangrove and Mudflat Workshop. We had over 150 attendees and 30 presentations covering plants, pollination, seagrass, (lots of) crabs, birds, wave attenuation, sedimentation, surface elevation change, pollution, management and law! Several members of the Mangrove Lab presented their student thesis work. The aim of this workshop was to bring all of this research together, and think about the future management of Mandai. For a workshop summary click here!

23rd Aug 2013 - we've uploaded some remote sensing guides, covering the use of Google Earth and other free shareware for higher-level GIS analyses, geocorrection and land cover classification in ERDAS Imagine. We'll be adding more guides as we get them! Feel free to download, use and distribute! See the Publications page for more info.

23rd Aug 2013 - Dan was in Bali, helping conduct training for the USAID Workshop on Response of Mangrove Wetland to Sea Level Rise, organized by Frida Sidik, Cath Lovelock (University of Queensland) and Candy Feller (Smithsonian). 20 young Indonesian researchers conducted projects about forest structure, carbon stock assessment, invertebrate communities, mangrove restoration and remote sensing. A fascinating workshop with some great data presented!


On the 31st of August Sivasothi and Dan are hosting a workshop on the last 50 years of research conducted at Mandai - a mangrove under threat in Singapore. Everything from biology, zoology, ecology, geography and management! Find out more and sign up here!

28th June 2013 - Dan spent a week in West Thailand along with Dr. Ziegler (see his lab here), Dr. Carl Grundy-Warr and ~40 students on the Geog Department's annual 6 week Field Studies course. We were looking at a range of coastal issues, such as tsunami escape routes and tsunami boulders in Khao Lak, and mangrove restoration and carbon/biomass measurements in Ranong!

15th May 2013 - Rachel and Dan were in Makassar, Sulawesi, Indonesia, checking out research field sites with the Mangrove Action Project - a great NGO promoting community-led natural mangrove regeneration. Along with staff and students from Universiti Hasanuddin, we will be creating digital elevation models of abandoned shrimp ponds and measuring the flooding tolerances of different mangrove species. Rachel will be using this information to predict where mangrove restoration will be most successful or where other measures are required. Makassar also fulfils another important research site criteria - it has great food!

3rd May 2013 - Valerie and Dan were in SW Thailand for a US Forest Service workshop on quantifying mangrove carbon. We worked with friends and colleagues from all over SE Asia, Papua New Guinea and the US, measuring trees and taking soil cores. Hopefully we'll see a lot more mangrove carbon stock assessments in our region over the coming months!


"A global standard for monitoring coastal wetland vulnerability to accelerated sea level rise"

Wetland elevation is an often ignored piece of the jigsaw puzzle when it comes to monitoring coastal dynamics and sea level rise. We make the case for low-cost, effective regional monitoring networks using the Surface Elevation Table to monitor threatened wetland ecosystems and their response to rising sea levels. To access this paper drop us an email or click here!

3rd Mar 2013 - we just returned from Rajamangala University, Trang Province, Thailand, where Dan was running a graduate field methods module for Singaporean and Thai students. Tasks included mapping areas of mangrove colonization, studying coastal morphodynamics, hunting for buried tsunami deposits (left), learning about flooding events, and igneous geology! See the Photos page!

25th Jan 2013 - the Queen, Prince of Orange and Princess Maxima of The Netherlands, Ambassador Tommy Koh and a number of Singaporean and Dutch ministers visited the NUS Aquatic Science Centre today. Dan talked about mangroves, and particularly our research in Singapore and Thailand and its importance for understanding mangrove conservation and restoration in the region.

Dec 8th 2012 - we've just returned from the 1st ASEAN Congress on Mangrove Research, organized by the Philippines Govt. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. This workshop drew together top scientists, practitioners and policymakers from across the region. Dan presented on establishing a Philippines and ASEAN network for Sea Level Rise vulnerability monitoring. Watch this space!

Nov 29th 2012 - Rickson, Rachel and Dan spent a week battling monkeys and the monsoon weather to take the first Surface Elevation Table measurements in SW Thailand, which we first installed in July-August. We'll be heading back there every 6 months for the next 5-10 years to see if the mangroves here are accreting or sinking, and whether the surrounding villages will be vulnerable to sea level rise.

Oct 14th 2012 - Dan will be speaking at a workshop on Weds 24th Oct - "Biological Approaches to Coastal Enhancement and Restoration" organised by NParks, Deltares and NUS. Dan will be talking about coastal research relevant to mangrove restoration, with experience from NGOs in the region. Register with Sally Teh Click here

Sept 14th 2012 - we just returned from Sheffield, UK for a workshop "Decentering Knowledge Production". We talked about biases in the global spread of mangrove research, which is currently centred in a handful of countries such as the US and Australia, and the implications of this for the management of mangroves in under-researched regions such as SE Asia and the Pacific islands.

Aug 15th 2012 - the Mangrove Lab just returned from 3 weeks of fieldwork in Trang Province, SW Thailand. We installed 24 Surface Elevation Tables to measure long-term changes in mangrove surface elevation. This information helps us estimate whether these mangroves are vulnerable to sea level rise. Sounds simple, but it means drilling solid steel rods into the bedrock - and that needs power tools! Click on the Photo Gallery page to see more!

Jul 16th 2012 - we were in Sri Lanka, attending the international MMM3 Meeting on Mangrove Ecology, Functioning and Management. This conference brings together researchers on topics as varied as remote sensing, gender issues, ecology and crabs! Dan gave two talks on "high-resolution mapping of mangrove topography and vegetation community structure" and "a global standardized network for monitoring mangrove vulnerability to sea level rise".

Welcome to the Mangrove Lab!

This is the lab page for Dr. Dan Friess, Assistant Professor in Geography, National University of Singapore.

We research the ecosystem services produced by coastal wetlands, the myriad threats they face, their restoration, and the policies that affect their conservation.

We do research throughout Southeast Asia (Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Vietnam) and Madagascar.

The Mangrove Lab is always on the look out for outstanding graduate students and postdoc researchers interested in mangrove science and coastal management.

Want to get in touch? Email dan.friess(at)