Research Areas

Symbiosis

What mechanisms structure diversity within the microbiome?

Biodiversity & Ecosystems

What is the cost of losing biodiversity?

Species’ Range Expansions

Can we predict diversity hotspots of the future?

Symbiosis is a source of evolutionary innovation in which an entire ecological or biological playbook can be acquired by association. Corals rely on an abundance of microbes to access scarce nutrients and power the formation of coral reefs. The essential nature of this symbiosis is now highlighted regularly with reports of massive coral bleaching in which corals loose their microalgal symbionts and suffer mass mortality. Yet, some corals fare better than others depending on the identity and relative abundance of certain algal symbionts.

I study the ecological mechanisms that determine the community of symbionts present within a coral at a given time.

Biodiversity in coastal marine communities provides the foundation for various ecosystem services including tourism, fisheries and coastal protection. Yet the richness of life is often overlooked by the public and sacrificed in the name of coastal and economic development. The rate of change in these systems threatens out ability to predict what we may loose if sound conservation and management practices are not enacted.

As a leading researcher for MarineGEO-Hong Kong, our team researches the relationship between biodiversity, disturbance and human health in urbanised seascapes.

Species ranges have begun to shift as the global climate changes. Increasing temperature is making tropical habitats intolerable but also removing barriers to poleward range expansions. Those species that can both arrive and survive in cooler and more seasonal habitats will define patterns of biodiversity under future climate regimes.

My new area of research combines physiological studies, population genomics, and climate modeling to make predictions of biodiversity hotspots of the future.