Hong Kong has a seasonally dynamic marine environment. Summer sea surface temperatures can exceed 30°C whereas winter temperatures can drop below 15°C. This range in temperature allows for year-round coral communities, and abundant growth of macroalgae in the winter. For my PhD, I am researching the role of the long-spined sea urchin, Diadema setosum, in the ecosystem, here in Hong Kong. Much work has been done on Diadema antillarum in the Caribbean, and some work has been done on the D. setosum as a bioeroder of coral reefs in the tropics. However, little is known about which marcoalgae these urchins feed on; how they affect the seasonal patterns of macroalgae growth and distribution; if the urchins target living corals here in Hong Kong or just the turf algae that grows on the dead skeletons of the corals. Answering these questions will help understand the food sources of the urchins and how their energy stores vary with the seasonal change in food abundance. I am also interested in the connectivity of the populations of D. setosum across its range, as they can be found from the East coast of Africa to French Polynesia, from Honshu, Japan to NSW, Australia. I want to compare the physiological performance of the urchins from stable tropical environments and highly variable environments to determine if they show extensive physiological plasticity, or if populations have adapted to variable environments. This will allow me to predict how these important grazers will cope with future conditions across their range.
2016: Bachelor of Science, Honours Marine Biology, University of British Columbia, Canada
2013: Arts and Science Diploma: Biology, Langara College, Canada
2015: Dean of Science Scholarship – Biology research grant
2013: Betty and Tony Pletcher Memorial Scholarship – For Achievement in Biology
2012: Real Estate Foundation Biology Student Bursary – Bursary for Biology students
Wherever humans exist, they have impacts on the environment. This is a reality of life. We use resources and create waste. The Marine Futures Laboratory is concerned with not only what these impacts are but also what we can do about them to ensure the future of marine ecosystems.
Combined human impacts
Most people have an opinion on the impacts of climate change, but few have thought about the reality. We are particularly interested in how changing environmental conditions, especially ocean warming and acidification, will combine with local pollution to damage marine ecosystems. What is the future of our coral reefs and how can we improve the outlook?
Did you know that Hong Kong historically had extensive oyster reefs and the coral communities were much healthier? My team is working with organisations such as The Nature Conservancy to see if we can bring them back!
Implementing technology in macroecology
Ecological surveys are time consuming and labour intensive. However, sometimes, it does not have to be. By using technology, we can reduce time and effort, yet increase accuracy. At Marine Futures, we are developing the use of drones for ecological surveys and habitat mapping.
We are a dynamic lab with a passion for the getting wet, particularly in tropical seas. If you are interested by anything on the website and want to join the crew, visit the opportunities page or come and chat to me!
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Assoc. Prof. Bayden D Russell
The Swire Institute of Marine Science
School of Biological Sciences
The University of Hong Kong