Assistant Professor

Contact Information:

Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore
14 Science Drive 4
Singapore 117543

6516 2696
6779 2486

Academic Qualifications

PhD, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
MSc, BSc (Hons), National University of Singapore

Teaching Areas

LSM4261 – Marine Biology

Research Areas

Coral reef ecology, evolution and conservation

Research Interests

(1) Coral reef ecology
Coral reefs are one of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth, with most species concentrated in the Central Indo-Pacific region. We are interested in the physical, biological and historical processes that have driven this large-scale pattern. Focusing on reef corals, we are exploring the influences of characteristics such as thermal tolerance, symbiosis, coloniality and other life history traits in shaping the distribution of species.

(2) Coral reef evolution
Globally, many coral reef species are facing heightened extinction risk from climate change and local impacts. Extinction probabilities aside, species are not equal. Rather, evolutionary processes render each species unique with a characteristic history that can be quantified for conservation prioritisation. We perform phylogenetic analyses on reef corals using morphological and molecular data to develop a robust classification of species that corresponds with their natural history. These reconstructions allow us to identify endangered lineages, phylogenetic distribution of extinction risks, and geographic regions with the largest potential losses of evolutionary diversity.

(3) Coral reef conservation
Various biodiversity measures related to taxonomy, function and evolution must be integrated and purposed for practical conservation to ensure the long-term functioning of reef ecosystems. We aim to address questions concerning the spatial and temporal variabilities of coral reef biodiversity components within the South China Sea region and in Singapore. Findings from these studies will help us better understand past and present extinction risks face by reef inhabitants, enabling comprehensive management of these risks and accurate projections of the future of coral reefs.

Selected Publications

  1. Huang D, Goldberg EE, Roy K (2015). Fossils, phylogenies, and the challenge of preserving evolutionary history in the face of anthropogenic extinctions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112: 4909–4914.

  2. Huang D, Roy K (2015). The future of evolutionary diversity in reef corals. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 370: 20140010.

  3. Huang D, Licuanan WY, Hoeksema BW, Chen CA, Ang PO, Huang H, Lane DJW, Vo ST, Waheed Z, Affendi YA, Yeemin T, Chou LM (2015). Extraordinary diversity of reef corals in the South China Sea. Marine Biodiversity, 45: 157–168.

  4. Huang D, Benzoni F, Fukami H, Knowlton N, Smith ND, Budd AF (2014). Taxonomic classification of the reef coral families Merulinidae, Montastraeidae, and Diploastraeidae (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Scleractinia). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 171: 277–355.

  5. Huang D (2012). Threatened reef corals of the world. PLoS ONE, 7: e34459.

  6. Huang D, Fitzhugh K, Rouse GW (2011). Inference of phylogenetic relationships within Fabriciidae (Sabellida, Annelida) using molecular and morphological data. Cladistics, 27: 356–379.

  7. Huang D, Cheng L (2011). The flightless marine midge Pontomyia (Diptera: Chironomidae): ecology, distribution, and molecular phylogeny. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 162: 443–456.

  8. Huang D, Licuanan WY, Baird AH, Fukami H (2011). Cleaning up the ‘Bigmessidae’: molecular phylogeny of scleractinian corals from Faviidae, Merulinidae, Pectiniidae and Trachyphylliidae. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 11: 37.

  9. Huang D, Tun KPP, Chou LM, Todd PA (2009). An inventory of zooxanthellate scleractinian corals in Singapore, including 33 new records. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, S22: 69–80.

  10. Huang D, Meier R, Todd PA, Chou LM (2008). Slow mitochondrial COI sequence evolution at the base of the metazoan tree and its implications for DNA barcoding. Journal of Molecular Evolution, 66: 167–174.