8 Nov 2012, Thursday: 10am at DBS CR1 — Karenne Tun on The Application of Biological Criteria (Biocriteria) for Assessing the Status and Responses of Coral Reefs to Environmental Stressors in Singapore

PhD Defense Seminar cum Oral Examination

The Application of Biological Criteria (Biocriteria) for Assessing the Status and Responses of Coral Reefs to Environmental Stressors in Singapore”

Speaker: Phyu Phyu Tun Karenne
(Graduate Student, Dept. of Biological Sciences, NUS)
Date: 8 Nov 2012, Thursday
Time: 10am
Venue: DBS Conference Room (S3 Level 5) #05-01
Supervisor: Prof Chou Loke Ming

Over the last four decades, the coral reefs in Singapore have been subjected to elevated levels of acute and chronic exposure to sediment-related stressors, resulting in the reduction in the total sub-tidal reef area as well as shrinking of the photic zone and a physical shift in the benthic composition from consolidation to loose and soft substrate. Despite an estimated reduction of over 86% of the sub-tidal coral reef area compared to 1953, the coral reef biodiversity, and in particular, the scleractinian diversity, still remains high, although there is growing evidence that Singapore’s reefs are surviving at their critical threshold. The current challenge in managing Singapore’s remaining coral reefs therefore lies in creating a regulatory framework to manage, protect and restore reef resources based on sound understanding of the processes and stressors that directly impact them at local scales. Biological criteria, or biocriteria provides a regulatory tool for defining expectations for the biological condition of coastal resources, and when applied optimally, can provide mechanisms for regulating human activities that threaten coastal resources.

Scientifically-defensible biocriteria rely on structured evaluation of key steps, including reef classification, defining data collection protocols, metric testing against human disturbance, sampling effort and survey design, validation of methods, definition of biocriteria, and implementation of long-term monitoring programmes. In my PhD research, I focused quantifying Singapore’s current reef status, assessing and refining data collection methods and protocols, and defining metrics and developing biocriteria that are relevant for assessing the status and condition of Singapore’s coral reefs. These tools can be used for developing diagnostic regulatory, compliance or long-term monitoring programmes.


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