Tropical reef habitats are imperiled by global warming, over-fishing, pollution, invasive species, and various other challenges. Conventional SCUBA has revolutionized the exploration of these ecosystems over the recent past; however, due to SCUBA depth limits, estimates of reef-associated biodiversity suffer from incomplete sampling, leaving the deeper (50–150m) regions of the coral-reef environment almost entirely unexplored. Utilizing advanced diving technology in collaboration with researchers at the Bishop museum, I seek to analyze fish diversity in the unexplored lower two-thirds of tropical coral-reef ecosystems. For my dissertation I am studying distribution patterns of these mesophotic reefs within the Pacific (based on qualitative faunal assemblages, species distributions, and phylogeographic analyses) to illuminate the origins of deep-reef fish biodiversity.
PI: Brian Bowen