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
Human impacts on ecosystems
Humans tend to use the environment in two ways: we either take resources from the ocean, such as in fishing, or we use the environment to dispose of our waste, such as nutrient pollution and CO2 emissions which lead to climate change.
It is not enough to show how we damage the ocean with our activities, but rather that we need to provide information on how we can both improve the environment by changing policy and activities and also sustainably develop our use of the ocean’s resources.