Coral reefs are in crisis from a combination of direct human impacts and the effects of climate change. Deeper reefs can harbour unique biodiversity and may provide a refuge for shallow-water coral reef species from disturbances felt at the surface. However, mesophotic reefs (found beyond 30 m depth) are relatively unexplored and data on the distribution and diversity of mesophotic reefs are lacking on both a regional and global scale. It is critical that we improve our understanding of mesophotic reefs and their role in supporting shallow-water coral reefs.
As part of a multi-disciplinary project, I am investigating the changes in diversity and distribution of mesophotic reefs in BIOT, in relation to depth and oceanographic drivers. I will be assessing the genetic connectivity of scleractinian coral species across the depth gradient from shallow to mesophotic depths to determine the potential of mesophotic reefs to resupply shallow reefs with larvae following mortality.
Mesophotic coral ecosystems are truly fascinating. They are relatively unexplored and we have so much to learn about their diversity and ecology.
Species Distribution and EcologyReef Manta Rays in the Indian Ocean Region
Island Reef ConnectionsMesophotic Reefs in the Indian Ocean Region
Species Distribution and EcologyInternal Waves as an Oceanographic Driver of Ecosystem Variability
I am also interested in how patterns of species diversity vary with depth in the deep sea, the horizontal and vertical connectivity of populations, and the implications of these aspects on the conservation and management of the marine environment.