Abstract: Habitat fragmentation is considered a primary cause of global biodiversity decline, however it is a spatially complex process and we know very little about its impacts on coral reef fish communities. In this talk I will review what is known about fragmentation effects from studies in other systems and use this as a basis to develop the first tests of fragmentation effects on coral reef fishes. One of the main setbacks to our understanding of the effects of changing habitat configuration is that they are often confounded with those of reductions in habitat cover. To address this, I will use a combination of observational and experimental field studies to tease apart these effects and also explore their underlying mechanisms. I’ll explain how I intend to go about this over the next two years and also present some preliminary results.
Biography: Mary currently holds a postdoctoral research position with the ARC CoE for Coral Reef Studies and the College of Marine & Environmental Sciences at JCU. Her broad research interests are in understanding the ecology and conservation biology of coral reef fishes using empirical field studies. Prior to this appointment, she worked as part of a large, international research group studying larval connectivity in marine reserve networks in Australia and Papua New Guinea. Mary earned a PhD from James Cook University in 2011 for her research on fish-coral interactions. In addition to conducting her own research, she also enjoys teaching and mentoring postgraduate students.