Abstract: As coral abundances continue to decline on reefs around the world, scientists are increasingly tasked to study ecological phenomena at spatio-temporal scales, at which ecological data is notoriously scarce, particularly at the species-level. As a result, our knowledge of the underlying demographic processes and their implications is often limited. In my thesis, I examine whether declines in coral abundances are likely to culminate in mass extinctions over the next decades by estimating, for the first time, the total number of shallow-water coral colonies in the Pacific and the population sizes of more than 300 Indo-Pacific coral species. I further evaluate whether declines in coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef have been accompanied by shifts in colony size structure, an important indicator of population viability in corals, and the implications of those shifts for the reproductive output of coral populations. Lastly, I investigate whether coral mass bleaching events differ in their spatial footprints from severe cyclones and whether those differences may undermine reef connectivity and help us understand declines in coral recruitment rates.
Biography: Andreas has a bachelor’s degree in Ecology from the University of Goettingen and a Master’s of Environmental Science from Utrecht University. In his Master thesis he examined the importance of functional redundancy and response diversity in herbivores for regime shift dynamics on coral reefs. Before starting his PhD at JCU he also worked as a consultant for the Dutch government, gained experience in ecosystem restoration practices as a trainee at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission and worked as a Divemaster on the Azores Archipelago.