School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Ecology Research Students

Liam Lachs

Lab Group:

Project Description

I’m investigating coral adaptation to climate change in the Anthropocene and testing the efficacy of “assisted evolution” as a potential management solution to boost adaptation.

Tropical coral reefs harbour 25% of marine biodiversity and provide livelihoods, food and nutrition to millions of people worldwide. However, coral reefs face unprecedented declines due to mass coral bleaching and marine heatwaves.

Reducing carbon emissions alone will mitigate these climate-change-derived ecological impacts. Therefore, we must also consider active management interventions in order to support the resilience of coral reefs in the future.

I aim to assess the persistence of coral populations under a) different future climate scenarios, and b) different ecosystem management strategies (i.e. passive, coral out-planting, assisted evolution). I I’ll use a multi-scaled approach:

1. Individual

  • Trait-based surveys & experiments to assess trade-offs between vital rates (i.e. heat tolerance, growth and reproductive output)

2. Population

  • Demographic surveys to test population size-structure and recruitment/mortality processes
  • Future population projections using individual-based models and climate model-derived SST

3. Regional

  • Oceanographic models of larval connectivity between coral populations
  • Statistical downscaling of climate model SST for regional population models


  • L. Lachs, N.A.M. Johari, D.Q. Le, C.D.M. Safuan, N.N. Duprey, K. Tanaka, C.H. Tan N.C. Ory, Z. Bachok, D.M. Baker, M. Kochzius, K. Shirai (2019): Effects of tourism-derived sewage on coral reefs: Isotopic assessments identify effective bioindicators. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 148 pp. 85-96. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2019.07.059.
  • L. Lachs, J.O. Casado (2019): Fisheries and tourism: social, economic and ecological trade-offs in coral reef systems. In: V. Liebich, M. Bode & S. Jungblut (eds.) YOUMARES 9 – The Oceans: Our Research Our Future, Proceedings of the 2018 conference for YOUng MARine RESearchers in Oldenburg, Germany.
  • L.Q. Dung, K. Tanaka, L.V. Dung, S.Y. Fui, L. Lachs, S.T.S.A. Kadir, Y. Sano & K. Shirai (2017): Biomagnification of total mercury in a mangrove lagoon food web in the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Regional Studies in Marine Science. 16:49-55. doi:10.1016/j.rsma.2017.08.006.


  • Scuba-diving, snorkelling, photography and surfing
  • Marine habitats and the animals that live in and around them, especially on coral reefs!


  • PADI Rescue Diver, Oxygen Administration & Emergency First Response
  • Beach Lifeguard, Royal Life Saving Society
  • Personal Sea Survival Techniques (STCW-95)