[Mar 2022] Are all ecosystem engineers equal?

Our group has recently started a new RGC-funded project investigating how common ecosystem engineers (mussels and rock oysters) facilitate biodiversity, and modelling how these bivalves and the associated biodiversity will be affected under climate warming. Specifically, we will target and compare three habitat types (mussel, oysters and a mix of the two) across Hong Kong coastlines. Using a combination of on-shore manipulative experimental approach (where we examine the effect of ecosystem engineer coverage on biodiversity) and laboratory assays (where we assess physiological tolerances of the ecosystem engineers), we will model and predict the susceptibility of these ecosystem engineers and hence rocky shore biodiversity to increasing temperature.

As ecosystem engineers, bivalves modify the rocky shore habitat by increasing complexity and providing refuges that enhance biodiversity.