Connectivity of Coral Reefs within the Singapore Strait (Qualifying Examination)

Speaker: Tay Ywee Chieh (Graduate Student, Department of Biological Sciences, NUS)
Date: 27 November 2008, Thursday
Time: 11:30 AM
Venue: Seminar Room S4 (SR4) S2-0205
Supervisors: Dr. Peter Todd, Prof. Chou Loke Ming

The coral reefs in Singapore still support a good diversity of marine organisms despite being deleteriously affected by more than three decades of anthropogenic impacts, mainly land reclamation and dredging works that have resulted in the loss of up to 60% live coral cover. Ongoing reef restoration works, that are both labour and cost-intensive, are unsustainable in the long-run if there is no natural recruitment of coral larvae to maintain populations. It is therefore important to study the dispersal patterns of coral larvae released from Singapore’s Southern Islands to determine whether local coral reefs are self-seeding and ecologically self-sufficient, or externally-seeded from neighbouring reefs such as those on the northern coasts of the Riau Islands in Indonesia. At the current rate of economic development in Singapore, there is an urgent need to strike a balance between land use and marine environmental conservation, especially as there is still no national policy on coral reef management. I will be using hydrodynamic models to predict dispersal patterns of coral larvae released from the Southern Islands and molecular analyses to elucidate the potential connectivity of reefs within the Singapore Strait. Knowledge of the key sources and sinks of coral larvae in Singapore will allow for prioritization of conservation efforts and more effective management of the reefs.

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