Comparing species interactions on tropical and subtropical reefs

Supervisor: Dr Maria Beger

Department: School of Biology, University of Leeds


Species interactions underpin ecosystem functioning, the persistence of diverse species communities, and ecosystem services such as pollination. In coral reef ecosystems, co-occurrence networks can be used to infer actual interaction networks, but species interactions have never been quantified. This project will be a pilot study to explore how to record interactions in situ, aiming to address the question: How do interaction networks differ between low latitude tropical reefs and high latitude coral communities? The project involves fieldwork in August 2022 in Japan, followed by a period of analysis in September. The student will help catalogue interactions such as grouping, feeding, defence, symbiotic interactions, shelter between fishes and benthic taxa. Whether the project can go ahead depends on finding a student who is adequately qualified as a diver. Otherwise the requirements are an interest in marine ecology, and in quantitative analyses. This project should provide us with an initial assessment on the feasibility of in situ interaction assessment on reefs, and a preliminary comparison of interactions between tropical and subtropical reefs.