Abstract: One of the major goals of ecology is to identify metrics of assemblage structure that are easy to obtain and that enable accurate predictions of how assemblages respond to disturbance and environmental change. One recent approach, termed the Universal adaptive strategy theory (UAST), has been hypothesised to apply to all creatures on the tree of life including corals. However, previous attempts to classify scleractinian corals according to UAST have been inconclusive, perhaps because they have chosen species traits according to the principles set out in the theory. In addition, the utility of the approach for predicting the response of coral assemblages to disturbance has not been effectively tested. This project aims to test whether UAST can does apply to scleractinian corals and if so, are adaptive strategy groups more effective at predicting the response of an assemblage to disturbance than approaches based on either taxonomy or morphology. I will firstly classify coral species into adaptive strategy groups using the principles of UAST and a recent comprehensive database of coral traits. Next, I will compare the utility of adaptive strategy groups and classifications based on taxonomy and colony morphology for predicting the response of coral assemblages to disturbance using several large scale or long term datasets.
Biography: Chao-yang grew up in Taipei, Taiwan. He completed his BSc in 2003 in the Department of Marine Resources at National Sun Yat-sen University (NSYSU), followed by a MSc at the Institute of Marine Biology at NSYSU and National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium (NMMBA). Chao-yang has worked as a research assistant for Dr. Chaolum Allen Chen (Acadamia Sinica) and Dr Joshua Madin (Macquarie University). Chao-yang started his PhD at James Cook University in March 2013. His supervisors are Prof. Andrew Baird, Prof. Morgan Pratchett and Prof. Terry Hughes. His PhD research focuses on the adaptive scleractinian corals.