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Urban Marine Ecology 

Restoring and enhancing Biodiversity (marine life) and ecosystem functioning (health) in degraded coastal ecosystems


Date: Thu 02 Feb 2017   
Time: 15:00 - 16:00
Location: Dalton Hall, Le
vel 3, Science Centre Singapore


Synopsis of talk

Coastal areas tend to be densely populated and mega-cities are usually built around port and harbour complexes. Coastal development includes port and dock installations, infrastructure such as roads and railways plus reclamation of land for buildings and industry - all protected by sea defences of some kind. Increasingly waterfront areas are being modified for residential and amenity use as well as for tourism. Worldwide this has led to much modification and degradation of marine and coastal ecosystems. With climate change, rising and stormier seas have led to proliferation of sea defences and hardening of coasts to protect property and people from erosion and flooding.
Focusing on the UK for example, the Mersey was one of the most polluted estuaries in Europe and restoring water quality was a major challenge. This was managed by installing a large airlift pump coupled with bio-filtration by large numbers of mussels. This led to clear, well-oxygenated, non-smelly water and an increase in marine life including seaweeds, invertebrates and fish. These improvements helped in urban regeneration with building of expensive condos, hotels, museums (Beatle Museum, Maritime Museum) and art galleries (Tate) in the old warehouses.
Seawalls and breakwaters can also be modified to increase biodiversity. With some thought eco-engineering can be used to reduce impacts and enable sustainable development. This is equivalent to use of parks and gardens to green the land. Similarly we can re-blue urbanised coasts to enable marine life to thrive in cities such as Singapore.
Selected specimens will be used to illustrate the talk.

About the Speaker

Prof. Steve Hawkins is a NUS Society visiting Professor, based in the Department of Biological Sciences at NUS. He is currently on sabbatical after being Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Environmental Sciences at the University of Southampton, the leading University in marine science and engineering in the UK.
He was previously Director of the Marine Biological Association of the UK Laboratory in Plymouth – England’s oldest Marine Laboratory founded in 1888.
He studied at Liverpool and has previously worked for Manchester, Liverpool and Bangor Universities. His research interests include experimental coastal ecology, long-term studies of climate change and other impacts on marine ecosystems, shellfisheries, management and restoration of degraded coastal ecosystems. He is particularly fond of limpets and barnacles.

Registering for the Talk

The talk is highly relevant to secondary students and above, for environmental science, geography and biodiversity. You can register to this talk by filling in and submitting this booking form.

For more information on the talk, please call Susan at 64252516 or email