Researcher biography

Harris holds a Master's degree in marine science from the Universiti Malaya (UM), which he studied the spatial feeding ecology of endangered dugongs in their seagrass habitats in Malaysia. During his master’s research, Harris and his team from the Team Sea Habitats (a spatial ecology lab at UM) and The MareCet Research Organization (a marine mammal-focused NGO) mapped the largest single subtidal seagrass meadow in Malaysia (1300 hectares) and the dugong feeding trails in the meadow. They found that food quantity significantly influenced how dugongs chose their food and utilised their feeding grounds.

Before starting his PhD, Harris worked as a research assistant in a coral ecology and evolution lab at Academia Sinica, Taiwan. During that time, he studied the population and community ecology of coral reef organisms and explored the responses of corals in their life history traits to the effects of climate change.

Harris is now a PhD student at The University of Queensland under the supervision of Associate Professor Daniel Dunn and Professor Peter Mumby. His research focuses on investigating the influence of seagrass connectivity on the distribution and population structure of megaherbivores at different geographical scales. He plans to use this knowledge to assess and improve protected area networks with stronger incorporation of connectivity metrics for seagrass and megaherbivores. 

Featured project:

Understanding where and how species are connected is crucial for adequate biological protection and habitat conservation of marine ecosystems. Seagrass meadows are critical habitats for many marine species, particularly megaherbivores like dugongs and green sea turtles. However, the fragmentation and loss of seagrass meadows have raised concerns about the long-term sustainability of these species, particularly in the Southeast Asia region where levels of seagrass protection are highly variable among countries. 

The aims of this study are to identify dispersal pathways and important seagrass meadows for maintaining the connectivity and persistence of metapopulations, and to understand how seagrass connectivity networks influence the distribution and population structure of megaherbivores. This study focuses on the Gulf of Thailand, where information gaps have limited effective conservation planning, including integrating seascape connectivity into marine protected area (MPA) network design. The synthesized knowledge will then be used to assess and improve regional conservation planning to enhance ecosystem resilience to disturbances and environmental pressures in the future.