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A new method for predicting the response of ecosystems to marine heatwaves

An international team of marine scientists from Hong Kong, Japan, and Canada, led by Dr Bayden D RUSSELL (Associate Director of the Swire Institute of Marine Science and Associate Professor from the School of Biological Sciences, The University of Hong Kong), including Dr Ben HARVEY (University of Tsukuba), Dr Katie MARSHALL and Professor Christopher HARLEY (University of British Columbia), have developed a new framework to allow us to not only understand the effects of marine heatwaves, but potentially predict their effects before they occur. This new method will allow researchers worldwide to identify the key biological traits of marine species in their region and predict how they are likely to be stressed by heatwaves. Most importantly, using this trait-based approach will allow managers and policy makers to identify the key species which are needed to support ecosystem function and develop strategies to help mitigate the damage caused by heatwaves.

See the link below for the publication:


Oyster reef biodiversity exhibit and workshop 

Marine Futures organised an oyster reef biodiversity exhibit and workshop to showcase our on going oyster reef conservation and restoration projects in Hong Kong. We 

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Copepod response to climate change is driven by species distribution and evolutionary history

We assessed the drivers and potential predictors of copepod response to ocean acidification and warming in an ecological and evolutionary context. 

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New Paper on the physiological impacts of heatwaves and the recovery of sea urchins

Our new paper in collaboration with the Sydney Institute of Marine Science is out in Science of the Total Environment. Jay Minuti travelled to Sydney to investigate the effects of heatwaves on sea urchin physiology and possible recovery. The study shows that the negative effects of heatwaves can manifest after relief from stressful conditions and highlight the importance of understanding the latent effects on physiology and health. Please click below to go to the page.


New Post-Doc position in

ecological modelling

Applications are invited for appointment as Post-doctoral Fellow at the Marine Futures Laboratory in the Research Division for Ecology and Biodiversity and the Swire Institute of Marine Science (SWIMS), to commence as soon as possible for two years, with the possibility of a one-year extension. Applicants should possess a Ph.D. degree in Ecology, Ecological Modelling, or Marine Biology/Ecology related disciplines.The appointee will lead a funded research project in partnership with the Shimoda Marine Research Center, University of Tsukuba (Japan) and CSIRO Australia.


New Research Assistant position available at SWIMS

November 26, 2020

The appointee will work for a joint Faculty project on Environmental Sustainability Education. He/She will assist the Project Investigators to oversee the development and operation of programmes used in Hong Kong secondary schools for environmental/ecological teaching and learning resources. He/She will also help develop biological surveys of intertidal habitats, liaise and perform school visits and assist with surveys on the shore, oversee the development of an online database for schools to upload data, and perform other duties as assigned. Enquiries about the post should be sent to Dr. B.D. Russell at

Survived but not safe: marine heatwave hinders metabolism in two gastropod survivors

August 14, 2020

Marine heatwaves (MHWs) are an emerging threat to marine organisms that have increased in frequency and magnitude in the past decade. These extreme heating events can have differential impacts for organisms with some experiencing mortality while others survive. We found that two marine gastropods survived moderate marine heatwave but perished under extreme heatwave conditions. Surviving heatwaves instigated ongoing physiological costs and non-adaptive metabolic depression. Therefore, post-heatwave recovery will be key for species persistence under increasing heatwave frequency. 

First PhD completion from Marine Futures Lab

January 18, 2020

It is official, Ms. Jay Minuti is now Dr. Minuti. Congratulations to Dr. Minuti, first student of the Marine Futures Laboratory to complete her PhD titled 'Physiological response and recovery capacity of key grazers to climate change'. 

Post-doctoral Researcher/Senior Research Assistant in the Marine Futures Lab, Swire Institute of Marine Science

May 09, 2020

We have a new Post-doctoral Researcher/Senior Research Assistant in the Marine Futures Laboratory ( at the Swire Institute of Marine Science (SWIMS) to commence by before September 2020 for two years.
The successful applicant will lead a funded research project to map remnant oyster habitats in Hong Kong and document the biodiversity associated with these habitats using both traditional and molecular techniques. The project is a partnership between the Marine Futures Laboratory and The Nature Conservancy HK, meaning there are opportunities to design and implement additional research into the biology and ecology of oysters and the potential for oyster reef restoration in HK. Click below to find the full project description and application process in our opportunities page:

Does thermal stress in adults change the thermal tolerance of offspring?

May 05, 2020

The rate of increase of global temperatures is posing significant threat to marine ecosystems, with more extreme weather events such as heatwaves set to be more frequent and intense in the coming years (IPCC 2014). We have been collaborating with Professor Maria Byrne from SIMS to investigate the effects of thermal stress on invertebrate larvae. Papers to follow. Original article can be found on the SIMS website ( or in our research page by clicking below:

Linking energy budget to physiological adaptation

March 24, 2020

How marine organisms adjust or succumb to such environmental changes may be determined by their ability to balance energy intake against expenditure (i.e. energy budget) as energy supports physiological functions, including those with adaptive value. Here, we examined whether energy budget is a driver of physiological
adaptability of marine calcifiers to the near-future ocean acidification and warming; i.e. howphysiological energetics (respiration rate, feeding rate, energy assimilation and energy budget) relates to adjustments in shell growth and shell properties of a calcifying gastropod (Austrocochlea concamerata).

Species distribution mapping

March 19, 2020

We have been out mapping species distribution with our drone. More information and some exciting pictures of our oyster reef and algal distribution surveys can be found in the research section. 

New year, new adventures!

February 28, 2020

Bayden has just returned for two months at The University of British Columbia on a Universitas 21 Fellowship to work with Prof. Chris Harley ( and Dr Katie Marshall ( Together, they are exploring physiological theory which may help us to refine predictions of range shifts of marine species and communities under both gradual ocean warming and heatwaves. Keep an eye out for us announcing the first of the paper soon…..

British Ecological Society Conference

December 15, 2019

Kevin presented his latest experiment at the BES conference along with other colleagues from HKU

"  I recently attended The British Ecological Society annual meeting 2019 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. I was selected to present a poster, on part of my PhD project investigating the effects of climate change on the rocky shore crab Eriphia ferox and its main prey, the mussel Septifer virgatus "Foraging behaviour of Eriphia ferox on Hong Kong rocky shores, now and under future warming". This was part of a two month mesocosm study undertaken in The University of Hong Kong. More results and a paper to come in 2020!  "

In the photo (L-R); Prof. Caroline Dingle, Prof. Louise Ashston, Prof. Timothy Bonebrake, Pauline Dufour, Shuang Xing, Kevin Geoghegan, Sharne McMillan

Adaptive responses of marine gastropods to heatwaves

November 24, 2019

Heatwaves are forecast to become more frequent. While these sudden increases in temperature are expected to threaten marine organisms, it is intriguing that some of the species prevail. By analyzing the molecular, physiological, and behavioral responses to acute thermal stress, we reveal how these responses integrate to allow marine gastropods to survive heatwaves.

The future of Blue Carbon science

September 04, 2019

Scientists seek improved precision of the extent of Blue Carbon ecosystems; techniques to determine BC provenance; understanding of the factors that influence sequestration in BC ecosystems, with the corresponding value of BC; and the management actions that are effective in enhancing this value. Overall this overview provides a comprehensive road map for the coming decades on future research in BC science.

Temperature the main driver of ecosystem structure in Coastal Lagoons

July 26, 2019

Ecosystem models constructed from seasonal biodiversity surveys in Mediterranean coastal lagoons have revealed that temperature is the main driver of ecosystem structure. Seasonal changes in the lagoon biological communities was related to changes in the phytobenthos which propagated through trophic pathways. This paper presents a new modelling approach to projecting potential changes to aquatic communities and ecosystem structure under changing environmental conditions.

Research Assistant position available now!

July 23, 2019

A new Research Assistant position is available in the Marine Futures Lab to work on an oyster population genetics project. The applicant should possess a Bachelor's or Master’s degree in Marine Ecology, Population Ecology, or Evolutionary Biology. He/She will conduct field sampling of oyster reefs in marine waters around Hong Kong and China in the Pearl River estuary; run lab-based population genetics analysis; and identify oyster population connectivity, including source populations, and mapping reefs using drones and GIS.  Travel to China for fieldwork will be required. Applications due 12 August 2019

Follow the link below to go to the application page or contact Bayden for further information on the project.

Distribution models predict large contractions of habitat‐forming seaweeds in response to ocean warming

October 03, 2018

Editor's choice paper on predicting distribution contractions in habitat forming seaweeds. The study projected shifts in the distributions of 15 habitat forming seaweed under RCP 6 and 2.6 warming scenarios. It predicted major range contractions of temperate seaweeds in coming decades. These changes will likely have significant impacts on marine biodiversity and ecosystem functioning because large seaweeds are foundation species for 100s of habitat‐associated plants and animals, many of which are socio‐economically important and endemic to southern Australia.

Global Young Scientist Summit

September 02, 2018

Congratulations to Jay who has been selected to attend the Global Young Scientists Summit (GYSS) in Singapore on 20-25 January 2019. Jay will spend the week at Nanyang Technological University joining other students and eminent scientists from all over the world. The multi-disciplinary summit covers topics including chemistry, physics, medicine, mathematics, computer science and engineering.  Speakers at the Summit include recipients of the Nobel Prize, Fields Medal, Millennium Technology Prize and Turing Award.  The theme for the Summit is "Advancing Science, Creating Technologies for a Better World".  Promising young scientists will exchange ideas and knowledge with the speakers and their peers over five days under this theme

Invited talk at the University of New South Wales, Australia

July 31, 2018

Jay Minuti was invited to give a talk at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia earlier this month by Dr Adriana Vergés. Jay met Adriana and other members of her lab group when she presented her work at an international conference in Washington in June; “Effects of Climate Change in the World’s Oceans”. Jay joined their weekly meeting to share her PhD work and have open discussion with the students and staff

Sir Edward Youde Memorial Research Fellowship

February 27, 2018

Rhyn Cheung was presented with the Sir Edward Youde Memorial Research Fellowship award for his project on seaweed forests. 

Seaweed forests are extensive biological structures that provide complex,three-dimensional habitat along the coast of China In Hong Kong, Fucoid forests proliferate during the cool and dry season. As human activities continue to impact sea surface temperatures and atmospheric CO2 concentrations, understanding the changes in Sargassum physiological responses to these new stresses is crucial for developing conservation approaches for the seaweed habitat and associated marine ecosystems. 

Getting hot makes gastropods run out of energy!

December 14, 2017

Our new paper in Scientific Reports shows that we should be just as concerned with "less extreme" heatwaves in marine ecosystems. We show that exposure to summer heatwave temperatures stressed marine gatropods by reducing their energy budget, ultimately leading to death. Importantly, this physiological effect occurred below the thermal maxima, explaining how heatwaves can cause mass mortality even when they are below lethal limits.

Post-doctoral Fellowship available now!

November 15, 2017

A new Post-doctoral Fellowship is available to work on the thermal biology of subtidal sea urchins and gastropods in Hong Kong and SE Asia. Applicants with SCUBA diving experience and energy budget modelling are preferred. Contact Dr Bayden Russell directly for more information. Applications due: 15 January 2018.

Position description found here.

Ph.D. Scholarships 2018

November 09, 2017

Ph.D. Scholarships are available to work at The Swire Institute of Marine Science, The University of Hong Kong. Applications are due 1 December 2017. If you're interested contact me now!

October 23, 2018

Artificial structures are increasingly used to protect coastal infrastructure from sea-level rise and storms associated with climate change, especially in densely populated countries like China. We know that the materials comprising
artificial structures influence the composition of organisms that use them as habitat, little is known about how these materials may chemically react with changing seawater conditions, and what effects this will have on associated biota. In this paper, we test how different construction material affect algal growth under ocean warming and acidification scenarios. The outcomes may surprise you.....

Marine Futures Team Leads ReefCheck HK

September 09, 2017

This weekend the Reef Check HK was held in the eastern waters of Hong Kong. Rhyn organised a team of public and scientific divers, including Jake, to once again assess the status of Hong Kong's subtidal habitats, flora and fauna. 

Well done guys!

Species Interactions Drive Fish Biodiversity Loss in a High-CO2 World

July 31, 2017

In our new paper published in Current Biology we show that at volcanic CO2 vents, fish diversity is reduced because populations of only behaviorally dominant species are boosted through enhanced food resources and reduced predator abundance. Reduced overfishing of predators could therefore act as a key action to stall diversity loss and ecosystem change in a high-CO2 world.

Marine Futures Website is Live!

June 30, 2017

We're excited to announce that the Marine Futures Website is live. More updates and changes coming soon.....

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