Research

What drives biodiversity in our oceans? What is a species and how do they originate? How are marine populations connected in such an extensive and complex system? These are some of the main questions I am interested in. Our oceans cover approximately 70% of the earths surface and 95% of this is relatively unknown. Reefs represent less than 1% of the ocean, they account for more than 25% of the marine biodiversity, and are considered one of the major biodiversity hotspots of our planet. Understanding the connectivity and population dynamics within these systems is crucial to develop proper conservation strategies and to advance our general knowledge of the natural world that surrounds us. In terrestrial systems physical barriers are believed to be one of the main drivers of the origin of new species (i.e. speciation). However, in marine ecosystems, the lack of biogeographic barriers and the extensive dispersal potential of many marine organisms provides an ideal study system to understand mechanisms of divergence in the absence of strong physical barriers. Moreover, the dispersal of many marine organisms generally occurs during their larval phase which excludes the use of regular tracking techniques (e.g. direct observation, marc-recapture, satellite and acoustic tags, etc). In such cases, genetic tools are useful for determining connectivity (i.e. gene flow) both within and between populations. My project focuses on using genetic tools to study population connectivity of reef fishes across the Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP), in particular of Angelfishes (Holacanthus spp.), Damselfishes (Stegastes spp.) and Wrasses (Thalassoma spp.) whose extensive distribution and contrasting life histories (e.g., benthic and pelagic spawners) make them an ideal study system.

 

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Research Cruises/Fieldwork

  • Revillagigedo Archipelago, Mexico 2017
  • Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea 2015
  • Sudan, Red Sea 2015
  • Lord Howe Island, Australia 2014
  • Farasan Banks, Red Sea 2014
  • Farasan Banks, Red Sea 2013
  • Al Lith, Red Sea 2013

P1110503Photo credit: Till Röthig

 

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