Eoghan Aston - AIMS@JCU

Eoghan Aston

eoghan.aston@my.jcu.edu.au

PhD
College of Science and Engineering

Eoghan Aston

eoghan.aston@my.jcu.edu.au

PhD
College of Science and Engineering
Effect of environmental conditions on the growth and loss of the three-dimensional structural complexity in corals

Eoghan developed a connection with the marine realm during his early teens, when he visited places far removed from his small English Midlands hometown. After completing an undergraduate Masters degree at Bangor University, North Wales, the tropics called. Developing his Masters work into a research paper with a team of interdisciplinary scientists based all around the world, Eoghan was taught quickly what can be achieved when several specialists put their heads together to solve a problem. Moving to Australia in early 2018, Eoghan spent a year assisting various PhD students on field trips in both Australia and Papua New Guinea, before embarking on his own PhD journey.

Effect of environmental conditions on the growth and loss of the three-dimensional structural complexity in corals

2019 to 2022

Project Description

Eoghan's project will make use of photogrammetry to quantify differences in the three-dimensional complexity and spatial refugia offered by different coral taxa as they grow, and as their structure collapses following mortality. Novel ways in which to measure complexity will be related to fish usage of these critical habitats.

Project Importance

Intensifying disturbance regimes are causing the reconfiguration of coral assemblages, and the physical structure they provide. As the proportion of resilient, yet structurally simple coral species increases on reefs, Eoghan's work to quantify the refuge space provided by different coral growth morphologies will deepen our understanding of the outcome of species reconfigurations.

Project Methods

Eoghan's project will make use of 3D photogrammetry, whereby series' of photographs taken from multiple angles are used to create computer reconstructions of colonies that can be analysed using specialised software. Such software will be used to develop and implement space-focused metrics of complexity that can be reliably related to fish populations, regardless of size or growth morphology. Tagged colonies in the field will be used to explore changes in structural complexity over time.

Project Results

Eoghan hopes to identify which coral taxa are the best at providing refuge for small, site attached fish. He hopes to quantify the amount of habitat that is provided by a broad spectrum of coral growth morphologies and in doing so, identify stress-resilient corals that will continue to host fish, given that disturbance regimes are intensifying.

Keywords

Climate change,
Coral reefs,
Corals,
Disease,
Ecology,
Field based,
Fish,
Marine planning,
Modelling,
Monitoring,
Natural disturbance,
Ocean warming,
Physiology,
Quantitative marine science,
Tagging,
Temporal change

Supervised By:

Stephanie Duce (JCU)

Renata Ferrari Legorreta (AIMS)

Andrew Hoey (JCU)