Located within the zone separating the coral reef from seagrass beds are numerous coral patch reefs. These patches range in size and distance from the main reef system and represent a unique opportunity to study the impacts of different levels of isolation. Locally called coral bommies, they are home to numerous fish and invertebrate species and have varying levels of biodiversity. It appears most likely that the patch reefs represent important species rich “islands”, but the factors that influence fish species richness and the stability of resident fish assemblages remain largely unknown. It is generally thought that larger patches will house greater species richness, as will those patches closer to the main reef. But it is also possible that other factors such as the biological and physical complexity of the patches are more important, or that coral patches close together could act as a single patch for resident fish. This research could take a number of approaches to examine the physical and biological attributes of reef patches, the factors that drive patch reef biodiversity, and how reef size/complexity and biodiversity are related. A high abundance of juveniles would mean patches have high conservation value, although they are currently given little attention from reef managers. Therefore, as well as addressing fundamental ecological questions, research within this subject area has direct conservation implications and may lead to recommendations for conservation intervention to increase the protection afforded to these habitats.
*Does not require data to be collected by diving, although you could still dive in your spare time.
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.