Huang Danwei secures a Young Explorers grant from National Geographic

Chou Loke Ming writes:

Danwei who is over at Scripps on the NUS-Overseas Graduate Scholarship was successful in securing a Young Explorers grant (US$5000)from the National Geographic Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration in support of his proposed project “Biogeography of the Faviidae family of hard corals in the Indo-Pacific.”

This will expand the research that he started on Singapore Faviidae and allow him to take a wider regional analysis. The funding is not large but coming from a prestigious institution, it does say something about the recognition that he is getting.”

His research abstract is as follows:

Huang Danwei

Corals in the family Faviidae are one of the most important hermatypic coral species in Indo-Pacific reefs, comprising the highest number of genera and, in some habitats, the greatest overall abundance. While other coral families have already been utilized for the study of large-scale marine biological processes, the taxonomy and phylogeny of the faviid species are still largely unresolved. Processes that generate biodiversity and the spatial distribution of coral reef organisms can be better understood by resolving their phylogeny at geographical scales.

From records of coral taxa in the Indo-Pacific, there are several regions that contain very high number of species, such as the waters surrounding the Philippines and the Great Barrier Reef. Separated by thousands of kilometers, each of these areas contains a mix of wide-ranging and localized species, necessitating a thorough examination of the faviid family’s distribution.

Field work will be carried out at the reefs of Japan, Philippines, Singapore and Australia, spanning the latitudinal range of the faviid corals. For each coral, photographic, skeletal and soft tissue samples will be collected for morphological and molecular analysis. The evolutionary relationships of various species will be identified. Findings from this study will address key questions in marine biogeography and further our understanding of speciation in the oceans. Potentially, results will contribute to conservation strategies in the region, as resource managers need to look beyond ecosystem-based management paradigms towards a more biogeographic approach in mitigating global reef degradation.

Links – Danwei @ SCRIPPS.

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