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
The physical structure and biological processes of oyster reefs provide incredible ecosystem services that particularly maintain the health and sustainability of coastal bays and estuaries globally. However, it has been estimated that ~85% of the world’s oyster reefs have been lost owing to overharvesting, habitat degradation and disease. In addition, very little information is available regarding the past and present ecology of oyster habitats in Hong Kong. Therefore, we have partnered with The Nature Conservancy aiming to investigate the ecology and ecosystem services of local oyster habitats. With the background information understood, we hope to build a case for oyster restoration in Hong Kong in the future!
2016: MSci Marine Biology (Honours), University of Southampton, UK
2016: University of Southampton Tyler Prize for the best MSci Marine Biology project
2016: The Undergraduate Awards – Highly Commended Entrant (Earth and Environmental Science)