James Herlan

James Herlan
M.S, Biology, Graduate

Cohort Level: Cohort - V

Career Goal: Conduct a PhD at CUNY as a CESSRST scholar.

Expected Graduation Date: August 31, 2022

Degree: M.S Biology

Research Title: The biodiversity of coral reefs in Palau: Combining image spectroscopy and large-area imaging to quantify spatial patterns of coral at multiple spatial scales.

Research Synopsis: My project will analyze data collected from these two surveying technologies to answer questions and address hypotheses focusing on the ecology of the Palauan coral reef system. First, what is the reef composition of the islands of Palau along gradients of wave exposure? I hypothesize that the areal coverage of reef-building coral decreases as wave exposure increases. Secondly, I hypothesize that important differences in the diversity (i.e., taxonomy) of coral, defined in part by life-history traits like functional morphology, and coupled with heterogeneous physical forcing, may in part explain spatial patterns of coral colonies at the reef scale. It is not known if coral reefs will survive this century. Surveying coral assemblages and quantifying their spatial distributions are, therefore, paramount to adequately describing their natural ecology and devising strategies for mitigation.