Research

 

 

RESEARCH OVERVIEW 

 
Our lab is engaged in several interdisciplinary projects addressing numerous aspects of coral reef ecology. KAUST, located on the shore of the Red Sea, offers a unique combination of wonderful access to coral reefs and world-class research laboratories. Much of our research effort is focused on this under-studied Red Sea system on our doorstep, but we also maintain projects based at a range of field sites around the world. One of the primary unifying themes of these projects is movement ecology, with studies ranging from larval fish dispersal to whale shark movements. These projects utilize several methodologies, described below. The findings of these projects are immediately relevant to management and will ultimately be used to guide the design and implementation of marine protected areas (MPAs) within Saudi Arabia and other study areas.
 
Other major research themes include life history studies, food web ecology, as well as evolutionary ecology and biology. Life history studies are fundamental for conservation and management of any species, and target knowledge gaps such as growth rates, age or size of reproductive maturity, population demographics, and other characters. Our food web ecology studies employ novel techniques we have developed and are revealing critical energy pathways that traditional food web studies have not been able to detect. Understanding these food webs will help to more accurately assess the function of complex reef systems and predict how reef fishes will be affected by climate change. Evolutionary studies, including phylogeny and phylogeography, are primarily focused on reef organisms endemic to the Red Sea, including the poorly understood non-coral invertebrate groups. 
 
We believe outreach and education go hand-in-hand with research, and are always happy to share our excitement for the marine world with anyone who will listen. Members of our lab are continually involved in interacting with local dive clubs, schools, and community groups to answer questions or give presentations about coral reefs. For more information, please visit the Outreach page.​

 

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Current Research

Developing several streams of research that use genomic approaches to study connectivity and adaptability of reef fish in the Red Sea and Arabian Sea. ​​​
​‪We have launched a new project to catalog the biodiversity of Saudi Arabian coral reef organisms.
Movement ecology can be studied at several scales, each with their own conservation implications and applications. Our lab focuses on work at numerous scales and with multiple study organisms.
​Fisheries have long been a part of coastal Saudi communities, but the effect of increasing fishing pressure has not been quantified. We hope to provide recommendations leading to sustainable use of Saudi's coral reef resources. 

Past Research

A rapid assessment of over 50 reefs along the Saudi coast has been conducted to establish a baseline dataset of coral reef communities in the Red Sea. ​​
The trophic ecology of fishes that consume coral tissue (corallivores) is poorly understood, but may represent an important energetic link between corals and their associated fish communities. ​
Monitoring of coral communities to detect and study the impact of disturbances such as bleaching and coral disease. ​​​​​