Abstract: Coral reefs around the world are profoundly threatened by human impacts but the extinction risk faced by individual coral species is less clear-cut. The most transparent and defensible estimates of species’ extinction risk are based on quantitative population viability analyses (PVA; IUCN Red List Criterion E). However, the current Red List of coral species is based primarily on expert opinion, since coral demographic datasets are scarce, and are taxonomically- and geographically- biased towards well-studied species and regions. My thesis will create quantitative methods that will place the coral Red List on a strong quantitative foundation, by tailoring classical PVA metrics such as census and effective population sizes to the unique demographics of highly dispersive, clonal corals. I will then apply these tools to re-assess the extinction risk of a large subset of coral species. To expand these tools to more data-deficient coral species, my thesis will also investigate demographic identifiers of coral life history strategies, and whether easy-to-measure “soft” traits such as skeletal density or polyp size can serve as proxies for harder-to-measure vital rates.
Biography: Andreas is a PhD candidate at James Cook University investigating means to advance our quantitative understanding of extinction risk in corals under the supervision of Professors Terry Hughes, Dr. Michael Bode and Professor Sean Connolly. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Ecology from Goettingen University, Germany, and a Master of Science in Environmental Science from Utrecht University, the Netherlands.