C3 Seminar: Dr Tom Bridge
Coral biodiversity and the persistence of coral reef ecosystems
Corals are the key ecosystem engineers on tropical reefs, the most diverse marine ecosystems on earth. However, the abundance of corals on tropical reefs has declined rapidly in recent decades due to a range of stressors operating at local to global scales. Given the importance of coral-dominated reef systems for biodiversity and to sustain human populations, the widespread decline of reef systems is a serious social and ecological issue. However, critical knowledge required to quantify the magnitude of these changes and inform potential solutions is still lacking. In this talk, I will provide an overview of our rapidly changing understanding of the evolution and phylogenetic relationships of reef corals, and why understanding coral systematics is important for conservation. I will also address how ecological theory can inform predictions of future reefs, and whether it is possible to maintain functioning reef ecosystems in the event of significant declines in biodiversity.
About the speaker
Dr Tom Bridge
Tom holds the position of Senior Curator of Corals at the Queensland Museum, based at the Museum of Tropical Queensland campus in Townsville, and is co-appointed with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University. He is originally from Sydney, and completed a B.Sc (Hons) at the University of Sydney before moving to Townsville to undertake a PhD at JCU. Since 2012, Tom has been appointed to multiple postdoctoral research positions at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, before being appointed Senior Curator of Corals at QM in 2016. His research is broadly focussed on the biodiversity, conservation and ecological dynamics of coral reefs across multiple spatial and temporal scales, how environmental gradients, particularly depth, influence patterns of biodiversity, and how understanding species distributions can assist reef conservation. He is particularly interested the ecology of deep-water coral reefs, and how species composition changes over depth. Tom was also a member of the national taskforce charged with surveying the 2016-17 bleaching event on the Barrier Reef. Tom was recently awarded an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) Fellowship to better understand how coral species change across environmental gradients to help better inform their conservation and management actions.
Light refreshments provided after talk - All are welcome!