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
Bayden D. Russell
I'm interested in how marine ecosystems function and what happens when human activities change environmental conditions so that functioning breaks down. Natural ecosystems have a dynamic balance. Human activities, and the waste we produce, are changing this balance. If we remove too many herbivores then algae can proliferate and overgrow corals. As the oceans are warming, species are being pushed to their thermal limits - what will happen when they are pushed past their limits?
In addition to understanding how systems function, I'm interested in how we can best restore them. We've destroyed 80% of the world's oyster reefs - what is the best way to help them grow back? What are the benefits to the surrounding ecosystems if we can restore oyster reefs?
Finally, the underlying factor in all of my research is humans and their interactions with marine ecosystems. A looming question is, how do we feed 9 billion people? Increasingly, I'm working with teams of people who are interested in how we can develop truly sustainable aquaculture as part of this answer.
Please see our lab publications page for my latest publications