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Abigail Powell

Abigail completed a PhD examining the role of fish predation in driving spatial variability of Indo-Pacific sponge assemblages. Overfishing has been identified as one of the most important contributors to the decline of coral reefs across the globe. Currently, much research focuses on investigating and mitigating the impacts of overexploitation of coral reefs, however, the vast majority of this research does not take into account its effects on sponges. In polar and temperate regions the main sponge predators are invertebrates, particularly starfish and nudibranchs, but in the tropics sponges are also eaten by fish. The importance of fish predation in driving sponge abundance patterns in the Indo-Pacific is still unclear, but changes in fish abundance could have far reaching implications on sponge assemblages. For example, if fish predation determines the distribution and abundance of sponges, a decline in fish abundance could result in an increase in sponges with subsequent ecosystem functioning effects.

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