People and ecosystems

Understanding of the links between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the wellbeing of human societies.


Ecosystem dynamics: past, present and future

Examining the multi-scale dynamics of reefs, from population dynamics to macroevolution


Responding to a changing world

Advancing the fundamental understanding of the key processes underpinning reef resilience.

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Coral Reef Studies

From 2005 to 2022, the main node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies was headquartered at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland (Australia)

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Population connectivity and phylogeography of neon damselfish (Pomacentrus coelestis)


12.00pm, Tuesday 16 November 2010

ARC Centre of Excellence Conference Room, JCU (DB44)
Shang-Yin Vanson Liu, National Taiwan University, Institute of Oceanography

My research interests and experience are centered on the evolution, phylogeography, species boundaries and population connectivity of coral reef fishes. I frequently try to combine multiple methods to reveal reef connectivity which involving molecular tools and otolith chemistry. Also, I applied molecular tools to test biogeographic (barriers and historical evens) and taxonomic (color morphs and cryptic species) hypotheses. Current research projects include comparative phylogeography of Pomacentrus. coelestis complex, species boundaries of Apogon .properuptus complex and the connectivity pattern of Cromileptes altivelis (humpback grouper) in Penghu Island.


Understanding dispersal patterns and population connectivity is crucial to the conservation and management of fish assemblages in reef ecosystems. The connectivity patterns also affect the biogeographic distribution and genetic structure of marine taxa on the evolutionary scale.  We conducted two independent studies to reveal the population connectivity and phylogeography of neon damselfish in the Pacific.  In the first study, we collected fishes from six sites between Hainan Island (China) and Okinawa (Japan) to examine the population connectivity of P. coelestis populations by using otolith chemistry and the mtDNA control region as tracers.  In the second, we expanded the sampling scheme across the Coral Triangle and Micronesia to test the biodiversity theories through phylogenetic analysis.

Overall, our data suggest the hydrodynamic pattern plays a major role on the connectivity of P. coelestis populations around Taiwan. The phylogeographic analysis revealed that the Pacific clade and Micronesia clade might have different demographic histories and dispersal processes, suggesting that they could be two recently derived sibling species. The former clade fits with either center of origin or center of overlap hypotheses, and the latter clade was unable to fit with any hypothesis due to recent population expansion.


Australian Research Council Pandora

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