Re ECF Project: 2011-27

Project Title: A review of marine biodiversity and ecological surveys in Hong Kong

Applicant: Prof. Gray A. WILLIAMS of The University of Hong Kong

Total Approved Grant: $456,380

Duration: 1/9/2012 to 30/11/2013

Project Status/Remarks: Completed

The project aims

  • to review and evaluate past ecological data and survey methodologies on the principle documented marine biodiversity studies in Hong Kong’s waters and in particular the no-take Cape d’Aguilar Marine Reserve;
  • to establish an inventory of local marine resources including marine species and their corresponding habitats in form of Excel spread sheets which can be readily incorporated into any Geographical Information System (GIS);
  • to reveal any patterns of marine biodiversity across time and space, and any relationship between the observed site-specific biodiversity profiles (in terms of species richness, abundance and/or biomass) and environmental attributes (e.g., pH, salinity, and levels of nutrients and pollutants) whenever extensive datasets are available; and
  • to identify and prioritise areas for future research.

Summary of the Findings/Outcomes:
Based on a literature review of over 620 references on Hong Kong's marine biodiversity, 5,684 marine species recorded in Hong Kong waters has been entered into a database. Even though Hong Kong accounts for only ~0.03% of the marine area of China, the number of marine species recorded was ~25% of the total recorded for China seas. The number of species per unit area in Hong Kong waters was at least a few hundred times higher than many other regions in the world, suggesting Hong Kong has a very rich marine biodiversity.

The Cape d' Aguilar Marine Reserve, which is the only 'no take' marine zone in Hong Kong covering a total sea area of only ~20 hectares (~0.01% of Hong Kong's marine area) supports 931 species (~16% of the total recorded in Hong Kong). Apparent limitations of the past marine ecological survey methodologies are the lack of standardization of sampling design and estimation of the minimum sampling effort required to gain a representative assessment of biodiversity at a locality. By mapping the past sampling locations of all recorded marine species, it was found that coastal and open water areas of Lantau Island and open water areas of Lamma Channel and southeastern waters below Mirs Bay require more investigation.