Biodiversity (biological diversity) is the existence and coexistence of a multitude of life; an infinite array of unique gene combinations where evolution has been playing away for over 3 billion years. From the gene to the ecosystem level, the fruits of this dynamic hereditary activity can be experienced when observing the natural world. In other words, biodiversity is the product of varying combinations of four simple molecules, DNA.

Invert_Biodiversity_Riot_BLOG.jpgFigure 1. A myriad of invertebrate biodiversity at 75 m (246 ft) depth, Ant Atoll, FSM. Image by SJ. Rowley.

By far the most abundant is microscopic life with a rapid ability to adapt and change. This ability perpetuates itself creating a myriad of life forms and multicellular phenotypic variability that is biodiversity; no niché is uninhabited. My research seeks to unravel some of the adaptations, which have evolved often in unison (trait integration and/or symbioses) to allow an organism to function and, in turn, advance biodiversity.

Nicella_Shrimp_screenshot_macro_PNI17-800.jpgFigure 2. Commensal shrimp on the mesophotic gorgonian Nicella sp. at 120 m (394 ft) depth, Pohnpei, FSM. Image by SJ. Rowley.

Through characterising tropical coral reefs across a depth range of 0 - 150 m depth (0 - 500 ft), patterns of biodiversity, ecology, and phenotypic variability reveal that gorgonian (sea-fan) octocorals are often a dominant, yet poorly-researched group. Therefore, my research is focused on the evolutionary relationships within and between the gorgonian holobiont and it's environment. How has this group become so dominant and diverse, particularly in deep-reef environments? What are the forces that have driven adaptation and the mechanisms that have evolved to bring about survival and the diversity of forms that we see today?

Calyptophora wyvillei 226_3 polyp lateral lateral-800.jpgFigure 3. Lateral view of a coral polyp from Calyptrophora wyvillei Wright, 1885 from 1000 m depth, Geologist Seamounts, Hawai'i. Image by SJ. Rowley & A. Summers unpublished data.

This research involves the integration of a variety of disciplines, learning new and innovative skills, and developing effective collaborations with others. Engaging with people wherever possible has led to unexpected ecosystem management opportunities, which is where I wish my research to be used the most. It is not out of the question for nature and human populations to sustainably coexist, it's simply a question of the willingness and action to bring this to fruition.

Mi19_Homereef_Snorkel_26_05_2019_DSC08865-800.jpgFigure 4. Under the jetty, Misool Eco Resort, Raja Ampat. Image by SJ. Rowley.

Throughout this website there are a variety of pages documenting research, study locations, field equipment, and key people that help to bring this and their own research interests to fruition. Most notable, are the results and utility of this work for future study, outreach, conservation, and collaboration. Communication is key and this is the objective of this website. 

You are welcome to contact me if you have any questions or wish to contribute towards these research activities. Thank you for taking the time to visit this site. 


Research Publications

Marti-Puig P, Buglass S, Arnés C, Creemers M, Rastoin E, Raineault N, Fisher C, Watling L, O'Hara T, Reiswig F, Rouse G, Shank T Wicksten MK, Rowley SJ, Cairns S, Ott B, Robinson L, Baba K, Griffiths SM, Salinas-de-León P (Accepted) Characterizing deep-sea invertebrates at the Galápagos Marine Reserve: described new species records and registers. Scientific Reports.

Rowley SJ, Roberts TE, Coleman RR, Joseph E, Spalding HL, Dorricott MKI (2019) Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia. In Loya Y, Puglise K, Bridge T (Ed.), Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems. Coral Reefs of the World, vol 12. Springer, Cham. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-92735-0_17

Sánchez JA, Dueñas LF, Rowley SJ, González FL, Vergara DC, Montaño-Salazar SM, Calixto-Botia I, Gómez CE, Abeytia R, Colin PL, Cordeiro RTS, Pérez CD (2019) Gorgonian Corals. In Loya Y, Puglise K, Bridge T (Ed.), Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems. Coral Reefs of the World, vol 12. Springer, Cham. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-92735-0_39

Spalding HL, Bowen B, Copus J, Kosaki R, Longenecker K, Montgomery A, Padillo-Gamino J, Parrish F, Roth M, Rowley SJ, Toonen R, Pyle R (2019) The Hawaiian Archipelago. In Loya Y, Puglise K, Bridge T (Ed.), Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems. Coral Reefs of the World, vol 12. Springer, Cham. DOI: ​​​​10.1007/978-3-319-92735-0_25

Rowley SJ (2018) Acclimatory capacity of the Gorgonian Isis hippuris Linnaeus, 1758 to environmental change in SE Sulawesi, Indonesia. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology & Ecology. 500: 73–88. DOI:org/10.1016/j.jembe.2017.12.012                             

Rowley SJ (2018) Environmental gradients structure gorgonian assemblages on coral reefs in SE Sulawesi, Indonesia. Coral Reefs. 37: 609-630. DOI:org/10.1007/s00338-018-1685-y 

Roberts TE, Bridge TCL, Caley MJ, Rowley SJ, Sinniger F, Harii S, Lesser M, Slattery M, Baird AH (2018) The challenge of the deep should not preclude robust ecological analysis. Science.                            

Ekins M, Willis B, Bridge T, Srinivasan M, Rowley SJ, Hooper J (2017) The coral-killing sponge Terpios hoshinota in Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum, Nature 60: 174–175. DOI:10.1082/j.2204-1478.60.2017.2017-02

Wan X, Miller JM, Rowley SJ, Hou S, Donachie SP (2016) Draft genome sequence of a novel Luteimonas sp. strain from Coral Mucus, Hawai'i. Genome Announcement. 4(6):e01228-16. DOI:10.1128/genomeA.01228-16.

Rowley SJ, Pochon X. Watling L (2015) Environmental influences on the Indo-Pacific gorgonian Isis hippuris Linnaeus, 1758 (Alcyonacea: Isididae): genetic fixation or phenotypic plasticity? PeerJ 3:e1128; DOI:10.7717/peerj.1128                                         

Beaton J, Cowan H, Davies T, Pyle RL, Rowley SJ, Rowley MR, Woombs M (2015) Closed circuit rebreather course: Poseidon Se7en addendum instructor manual. British Sub-Aqua Club, London, UK. pp. 149.

Rowley SJ (2014) Gorgonian responses to environmental change on coral reefs in SE Sulawesi, Indonesia. Doctoral thesis, Victoria University Wellington, New Zealand, pp. 213. DOI:10.13140/RG.2.1.5126.7682 

Rowley SJ (2014) Refugia in the ‘twilight zone’: discoveries from the Philippines. The Marine Biologist. 2: 16-17. Link                      

Ransome E, Rowley SJ, Thomas S, Munn CB, Tait K (2014) Disturbance to conserved bacterial communities in the cold water gorgonian coral Eunicella verrucosa. FEMS Microbial Ecology. 90(2): 404-416. DOI:10.1111/1574-6941.12398                                 

Watling L, Rowley SJ, Guinotte SJ (2013) The world’s largest known gorgonian. Zootaxa. 3630(1):198–199. DOI:org/10.11646/zootaxa.3630.1.10                                     

Hall-Spencer JM, Rodolfo-Metalpa R, Martin S, Ransome E, Fine M, Turner SM, Rowley SJ, Tedesco D, Buia MC (2008) Volcanic carbon dioxide vents show ecosystem effects of ocean acidification. Nature. 454: 96-99. DOI:org/10.1038/nature07051

Martin S, Rudolfo-Metalpa R, Ransome E, Rowley SJ, Gattuso JP, Hall-Spencer JM (2008) Effects of naturally acidified seawater on seagrass calcareous epibionts. Biology Letters. DOI:10.1098/rsbl.2008.0412                                                                               

Rowley SJ (2008) A critical evaluation of the symbiotic association between tropical tubicolour Polychaetes and their Hermatypic coral hosts, with a focus on Spirobranchus giganteus (Pallas, 1766). Plymouth Student Scientist. 1(2): 335-353. Link

Rowley SJ (2008) Morphological diversity and abundance in the tube-dwelling polychaete Spirobranchus giganteus (Pallas, 1766) in the Indo-Pacific: adaptations to its coral host? Bachelor's Thesis. University of Plymouth, UK, pp. 24. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.3277.3609


Technical Reports

Rowley SJ, Roberts TE, Coleman RR, Spalding HL, Joseph E, Dorricott MK (2018) Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems of Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia. University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, Conservation Society of Pohnpei, Technical Report. pp.38. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.16217.16480                                                                       

Rowley SJ, Roberts TE, Coleman RR, Spalding HL, Joseph E, Dorricott MK (2018) Lay-Summary: Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems of Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia. University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, Conservation Society of Pohnpei, Technical Report. pp.14. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.29638.93763

Rowley SJ (2017) Voyage Report: Rapid Assessment of the Geologist and Lō‘ihi Seamounts. Conservation International & HURL Technical Report. pp. 27. DOI:10.13140/RG.2.2.28815.59044                                                                             

Rowley SJ (2016) Exploration and Systematics of Deep-Reef Gorgonian Corals at Pakin Atoll, Micronesia. Systematic Research Fund. Technical Report. pp. 9. DOI:10.13140/RG.2.2.21953.86886 

Clark M, Anderson O, Bowden O, Chin C, George S, Glasgow D, Guinotte J, Hererra S, Osterhage D, Pallentin A, Parker S, Rowley SJ, Stewart R, Tracey D, Wood S, Zeng C (2014) Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems of the Louisville Seamount Chain: voyage report of a survey to evaluate the efficacy of preliminary habitat suitability models. NIWA Technical Report. pp.83. Link