Invasive Cryptofauna in Red Sea Coral Reefs

Invasive Cryptofauna in Red Sea Coral Reefs

Internship Description

Although coral reefs are often described as one of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth, the majority of this biodiversity is hidden, inhabiting the small cavities (crypts) created by the threedimensional reef framework. These cryptic taxa (cryptofauna) play an important role in reef
trophodynamics but little is known about their role, distribution and driving forces. Introductions of non-native species can disrupt reef community dynamics and affect overall ecosystem function. Ship ballast water is a major vector for the introduction of non-native species in the marine
environment. Although only a small percentage survives the transport, some organisms may go on to successfully outcompete native cryptofauna and establish in reefs crypts, thereby potentially altering the reef community composition and functionality. The impact of non-native species
introductions on reefs in particular has received limited consideration. Using data collected from ARMS deployments, as well as transects at various reefs in the Red Sea, this study aims to determine how proximity of a port might affect cryptofaunal diversity. This project will involve in
situ surveys and a combination of morphological and molecular based identifications and will contribute to the generation of a local DNA barcode reference library. We expect that this research will lead to publications in which the student can participate.


​One peer-review publication as first author​.

Faculty Name

Field of Study

Ecology; Biology; Conservation​