Coral reef calcification and sediment generations are processes of major importance because they determine rates of coral reef growth, the capacity of reefs to maintain their structural integrity, and the rates at which reefs can provide sand to nearby beaches and islands. In essence the basic foundations that sustain most reef-related ecosystem goods and services.
Specifically, my current research in BIOT is focussed on quantifying the biological carbonate budgets of reefs in different habitats around the archipelago, with the aim of providing a unique insight into the dynamics of reef budget change and recovery post-bleaching.
Central to this research is the collection of novel empirical data on area-specific rates of coral and coralline algae calcification, and on biological erosion (e.g., endolithic erosion, parrotfish erosion). Essential metrics for improving budget calculations.
In an era of rapidly changing marine environmental conditions, there is an urgent need to better understand and predict how rates of reef-building and sediment supply may change, quantifying the rates at which reef taxa produce and erode calcium carbonate provide us with a powerful tool for measuring these functions.
Coral Reef ResilienceMonitoring Coral Reefs in the British Indian Ocean Territory
In addition to my work on reef carbonate budgets I am also interested in understanding longer-term temporal and spatial variations in rates and styles of coral reef development. I am, in particular, interested in how reef- and reef island-building has responded to sea-level and environmental change through the Holocene as a context for understanding and predicting near-future change, and on the processes controlling reef development under more marginal marine environmental conditions, especially high turbidity.