Globally coral reefs are being exposed to an extensive list of climate and anthropogenic related stressors, which is causing a considerable decline in the diversity and abundance of many reef species. The Wakatobi region of Indonesia, situated in the Coral Triangle and home to rich coral reef ecosystems, is no exception to this rule. However, the losses and impacts reported from this area are not as significant as some of those documented in other locations such as the Caribbean. Consequently, there is urgent need to not only understand the implications of the changes recorded in the Wakatobi, but also why the reef environments here appear more resilient than similar environments elsewhere. Population ecology is the study of population compositions and structures, together with the processes driving them. These types of assessments have huge conservation potential, allowing ecologists to quantify how environmental impacts on the performance and success of individual organisms can affect the future development, stability and viability of populations and communities. Studies investigating the size structure of different coral populations subjected to varying environmental regimes or stressors can reveal compensatory mechanisms offering resilience, or inform local management of specific ways to effectively conserve endangered populations. Analysis of juvenile coral abundance can also be used to determine the future stability and persistence of populations. Alternatively, novel demographic techniques widely employed in other branches of ecology could be applied to assess the composition of coral populations in the Wakatobi, and predict future population characteristics.
If you would like to do a dissertation or thesis with us but your university hasn’t started dissertation planning or the project selection process, that’s no problem. You can cancel your expedition with zero cancellation charges up until the 15th of April of if you provide documentation from your university saying that they won’t support completing a dissertation project with us.
There is a triangle of reefs in Eastern Indonesia that have the highest diversity of hard coral genera, the proxy commonly used to assess overall diversity of coral reefs, anywhere in the world. Both the marine stations being used by the Opwall teams are in the centre of this triangle. The South Buton Marine Centre has established a series of standard monitoring sites on reefs south of Bau Bau and around the surrounding small islands, with the objective being to use the data to develop plans for conserving these reefs. The Hoga Island Marine Station is located in the heart of the Wakatobi Marine National Park. Over the last 20 years, a series of scientists have been based at this site during the Opwall survey seasons and as a result, this is now the most published site in the Coral Triangle. For the last 15 years a series of constant monitoring sites around Hoga and eastern Kaledupa have been monitored for macroinvertebrates, fish communities, coral cover and community structure. The 2020 season will complete this monitoring plus some additional projects.
At the marine sites during the day, the weather is normally sunny and warm (around 30 degrees Celsius), and the night temperatures drop to around 20-25 degrees Celsius. Being on the coast means there is often a pleasant breeze so it does not always feel this hot. It rains rarely, but when it does it tends to be very heavy for short periods of time.
Fitness level required
Low-Moderate. Some fitness is required for in water activities, but conditions are relatively easy.
The Hoga Island Marine Station is an established facility that lies within the Wakatobi Marine Park of eastern Indonesia. The station was rebuilt in 2016 and supports a dive centre, lecture theatre, wet-lab as well as a large dining room and kitchen facility. Simple huts owned by members of the local fishing community surround the station and serve as guest accommodation. The island supports reliable phone signal that allows limited internet access.