Shark and fishes around the world are currently declining on coral reefs, generally due to overharvesting. Declines in these consumers can lead to profound food web restructuring and cascading ecological consequences for the rest of the ecosystem. By studying coral reefs across multiple trophic levels and how species interactions have consequences for the rest of the ecosystem, we can further our understanding of the role of consumers, which are disappearing worldwide, on coral reefs.
The British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) is an ideal study system, with the highest fish and shark biomass in the Indian Ocean due to the Marine Protected Area (MPA).
To answer these questions, I am currently evaluating how large bodied predators like sharks influence coral reef fishes in their morphology, diet and composition. Additionally, I determine if these effects cascade down the food web by evaluating how herbivorous (i.e. consume algae) and corallivorous fishes (i.e. consume corals) control developing coral reef benthic communities. Using BIOT as my study system, I am able to combine both observational and experimental fieldworks to disentangle the importance of consumers in coral reef food webs.
I’m fascinated by the diverse species interactions on coral reefs and their ecological consequences for the rest of the ecosystem.
Coral Reef ResilienceCoral Reef Fish in the British Indian Ocean Territory
I currently work on patterns of diversity on coral reefs from the microbial scale on individual coral colonies to macroecological patterns of benthic organisms.
Additionally, I am interested in evaluating food webs and the role of consumers in other habitats and determining if there are generalizations in mechanisms or patterns across systems.