Luis Malpica Cruz

My degrees

BSc Oceanography, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California

MSc Marine Ecology,  CICESE

What I am now

PhD candidate

Email: lmalpica@sfu.ca

My research

My broad research interests are the study of food web interactions and energy transfer in marine ecosystems. I studied trophic levels and foraging grounds of sharks in the northeastern Pacific during my masters, and for my PhD I will focus on evaluating how food web interactions are affected by different levels of ecosystem degradation, by evaluating trophic niche width of different coral reef species. Coral reefs host a great number of species, all connected through ecological interactions, which makes them one of the most important, complex and dynamic food webs.  Coral reef’ health and sustainability greatly depend on maintaining and understanding their ecological complexity. A myriad of natural and human stressors are greatly damaging these ecosystems.

Trophic niche width represents food web interactions in an ecosystem, and evaluating this indicator can help us address some questions about coral reefs community’ structure and function. In a degraded reef environment it is expected that trophic niche width will be reduced in different ways, and that shorter and less complex food webs will have lower resilience to stressors. My overall goal is to examine the extent to which protection, in the form of marine reserves, alters coral reef fish community function. I will address questions relating to community-level food web niche width, as measured by chemical markers known as stable isotopes. The information obtained in this study will extend our knowledge of coral reef communities, allow us to better predict impacts of stressors on coral reefs and provide a useful basis for better management and conservation of coral reef ecosystems.