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 beings depend so much on the healthy functioning of all ecosystem, especially in the world's oceans. The natural services that the ocean provides to our local and global economies include food and health products, coastal protection, recreation and many more. Maintaining these services depends on the abundance and variety of species (biodiversity) and the complex interactions that make ecosystem resilient to unprecedented stressors (ecosystem function). My role in the Marine Futures Lab is to assist its MarineGEO-Hong Kong (Marine Global Earth Observatory) project, especially in executing ecosystem function assays. By understanding Hong Kong's coastal biodiversity and ecosystem function, we hope that we can provide data and baselines that can be useful as a benchmark for management decisions and for anticipating the impacts of future development and climate change.
Find out more about MarineGEO here: https://marinegeo.si.edu
2017: BSc in Biological Sciences (first class honours), Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
2016 & 2017: HKUST Dean's List
2015: Hong Kong SAR Government Scholarship Fund - Reaching Out Award