Research Profile: Rowan Trebilco, Biological Sciences

April 29, 2011

Rowan Trebilco was awarded a Vanier Canada Graduate PhD Scholarship in 2009 to pursue his research at Simon Fraser University’s Department of Biology.

Originally from Australia, Rowan also received a Rhodes Scholarship for Tasmania in 2006, and completed his Masters of Biodiversity Conservation and Management at Oxford University in 2008.

His research project title is Sizing Up the Role of Predatory Fish in Reef Foodwebs. He says, “My work aims to tease apart the role that large predators play in structuring temperate and tropical reef foodwebs. There’s a general consensus that predators are very important for healthy and productive ecosystems, but little appreciation of how this might work on reefs. I’m tackling these questions using size-based approaches, which focus on the body sizes in a community rather than the species. These size-based approaches are quite a different way of looking at things to how people have traditionally studied reefs, but recent work by British scientists working in the North Sea has shown that they hold a lot of promise.”

His case studies take place at Kiritmati atoll (in the tropical Pacific) and Haida Gwaii (northern BC), and ultimately, his research aims to help guide management strategies that account for the role of large predators in healthy and productive reef ecosystems worldwide.

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