Alex S.J. Wyatt


Assistant Professor | Associate Director
Department of Ocean Science | Ocean Research Facility
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST)

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Alex is a marine biologist and oceanographic engineer by training, with multi-disciplinary research interests at the interface between marine ecology and oceanography. He has qualifications and experience in commercial and technical diving in both academic and industrial settings. He received Honours degrees in both Science and Engineering (Marine Biology and Ocean Systems Engineering) and a Ph.D. (Oceanography and Marine Ecology) from The University of Western Australia. He was a Fulbright Scholar and Postdoc at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, and a Research Fellow in the Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute at The University of Tokyo. His novel integration of oceanography, isotope ecology and engineering has begun to shed new light on the biogeochemical function, diet shifts, and foraging specialisations of globally threatened marine ecosystems and species.  read more

He has a particularly strong background and focus on coral reefs, with recent work leading to the exploration of proactive management approaches for enhanced stewardship of these vital ecosystems.  His early work quantitatively demonstrated that oceanic nutrient inputs to reefs are essential, but also provided some of the first direct evidence that ecosystem-scale recycling is an ecologically significant process.  This research attracted a number of competitive awards, including the 2011 UNESCO IOC / IMarEST Western Australian Marine Science Postgraduate Award, Australian Marine Sciences Association (AMSA) Allen Award, the Janice Klumpp Award (UWA), an Australian Coral Reef Society Award, and the Oxford University Press Prize for best marine ecology presentation at AMSA 2008. More recent work supported by fellowships from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), focusing in part on isotope dynamics in captive and wild whale sharks, has led to the development of an enhanced approach for quantifying foraging specialisation in wild populations of a range of enigmatic marine species.  With the support of JSPS, the Sumitomo Foundation and the Nissei Foundation, Dr Wyatt is applying new technologies and approaches to the ecological exploration of deep water ‘twilight’ reefs, which represent a new frontier in coral reef oceanography and ecology and have important global implications for reef preservation.  He is a registered expert for the Japan International Collaboration Agency (JICA) and a participant in the JICA-funded “Coastal Ecosystem Conservation and Adaptive Management (CECAM)” project in the Philippines and the US-funded Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) coral reef site in Moorea, French Polynesia. He is also active in the international isotope ecology community, hosting and chairing the 10th IsoEcol conference in Tokyo in 2016, the first to be held in Asia.  Dr Wyatt has supervised scientific diving operations and led academic and commercial field research in a variety of marine ecosystems worldwide, including in Australia, East Timor, French Polynesia, Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines, Mexico, Taiwan, and the United States.  He publishes in, and reviews for, top international journals in the marine and oceanography fields, including Coral Reefs, Ecology, Limnology and Oceanography, Marine Ecology Progress Series, Nature Geoscience, and the US National Science Foundation.


2006 – 2011   Ph.D., Oceans Institute, The University of Western Australia (UWA)
1999 – 2004   B.E. (Hons), Ocean Systems Engineering, UWA
1999 – 2002   B.Sc. (Hons), Marine Biology, UWA

Professional Experience

2019 –            Assistant Professor, Department of Ocean Science, HKUST
2016 –            Visiting Researcher, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST)
2011 – 2019   Research Fellow, AORI, The University of Tokyo
2009 – 2011   Fulbright Western Australia Scholar, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
2006 –            Director, Enviro Marine Consulting Pty Ltd
2004 – 2006   Consultant – Marine Environment, International Risk Consultants (IRC)
2004 –            Director, Perfect English Pty Ltd

Professional Activities

  • Association for the Sciences of Limnology & Oceanography (ASLO)
  • Australian Coral Reef Society
  • Australian Fulbright Alumni Association
  • Australian Marine Sciences Association (AMSA)
  • Ecological Society of America
  • The Institution of Engineers, Australia
  • International Coral Reef Society (ICRS)
  • Japan Coral Reef Society (JCRS)
  • The Oceanography Society (TOS)
  • Associate Editor:
    • Frontiers in Marine Science, Limnology and Oceanography: Methods
  • Reviewer:
    • Communications Biology, Communications Earth and Environment,  EcologyGeophysical Research Letters, Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, Limnology & OceanographyNature GeoscienceOceanography and Marine Biology – An Annual ReviewScience Advances, Scientific Reports, U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF),read more
      Aquatic Invasions,  Biogeosciences,  Bulletin of Marine Science,   Comptes Rendus Biologies,  Coral Reefs,   Ecology and Evolution, Ecosphere, Environmental Biology of FishesEstuarine Coastal and Shelf ScienceFrontiers in Marine ScienceFood Webs,  HydrobiologiaIsotopes in Environment & Health StudiesJournal of Animal Ecology, Journal of OceanographyJournal of Sea ResearchJournal of Oceanography,   Marine Biology,  Marine Biology Research,  Marine Environmental Research, Marine Ecology, Marine Ecology Progress SeriesOecologia,  PLoS One, Royal Society Open Science.

    publonsPeer review activity publicly available at


    2023 – 2025 Individual- and species-level feeding specialisations and resource dependencies of valuable marine species. Hong Kong Research Grants Council (RGC) General Research Fund (GRF). (PI: Wyatt, A.S.J.)

    2022 – 2024 Linking coral cover and reef fish diversity in Hong Kong waters using eDNA. Hong Kong Offshore LNG Terminal Project, Marine Conservation Enhancement Fund (MCEF). (PI: Yung, C.M., Wyatt, A.S.J. & Lam, C.K.S.)

    2020 – 2024 Ecological impacts of internal waves on globally threatened coral reef ecosystems. Hong Kong Research Grants Council (RGC) Early Career Scheme (ECS). (PI: Wyatt, A.S.J.)

    2020 – 2024 Integrating biogeochemistry and modelling to understand globally threatened coral reefs. ASPIRE League Partnership Seed Fund. (PI: Wyatt, A.S.J. & Nakamura, T.)

    2019 – 2020 Understanding the prevalence of foraging specialisation, fasting and herbivory to improve conservation of the globally threatened whale shark. JSPS Grant-in-Aid of Scientific Research (KAKENHI), Early Career Researcher (若手研究). (PI: Wyatt, A.S.J.)

    read more

    2018 – 2019 Can internal wave-induced cooling save corals? Experimental verification of bleaching relief . Sumitomo Foundation, Environmental Research Grant (住友財団環境研究助成). (PI: Nagata, T.; Co-I: Mitarai, S., Wyatt, A.S.J. & Leichter, J.J.)

    2017 – 2018 Elucidating jungle-to-reef connections using state-of-the-art chemical tracers: Towards harmony between human activities and the pristine environments of Iriomote-jima, Japan. Nissei Foundation, Grant for Environmental Issues Research (Young Researcher) | 環境問題研究助成 (若手研究). (PI: Wyatt, A.S.J.; Co-I: Nagata, T., Leichter, J.J., Miyajima, T. & Mitarai, S.)

    2016 – 2017 A refuge for coral reef biodiversity: trophic function and reproduction in the twilight zone. Sumitomo Foundation, Environmental Research Grant (住友財団環境研究助成). (PI: Miyajima, T. ; Co-I: Wyatt, A.S.J., Nagata, T., Leichter, J.J., Mitarai, S., Sakai, K. & Toonen, R.J.)

    2015 – 2018 Development of a novel approach to understand the environmental drivers and trophic responses of deep water (mesophotic) coral ecosystems across the Ryukyu Archipelago. JSPS Grant-in-Aid of Scientific Research (KAKENHI), Challenging Exploratory Research (挑戦的萌芽研究). (PI: Wyatt, A.S.J.; Co-I: Miyajima, T., Naruse, T. & Chikaraishi, Y.)

    2015 – 2017 Oceanographic drivers of coral reef biodiversity hotspots and climate change refugia using novel biomarker approaches.  Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), Grant-in-Aid of Scientific Research. (PI: Nagata, T. & Wyatt, A.S.J.)

    2011 – 2013  Source-sink dynamics of organic matter on coral reefs using advanced biomarker techniques. JSPS Grant-in-Aid of Scientific Research. (PI: Nagata, T. & Wyatt, A.S.J.)

    2008 – 2011   Morphological, behavioural and environmental controls on coral feeding: the effect of flow conditions inferred from stable isotope variation.  The University of Western Australia. (PI: Wyatt, A.S.J.)

    2008 – 2009  The influence of biological oceanography on coral reef biodiversity.  Wildlife Preservation Society (Australia). (PI: Wyatt, A.S.J.)

    Fellowships & Awards

    • Dongsha Atoll Research Award, Dongsha Atoll Research Station (2016-19)
    • Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Pathway-to-Position (定着促進) Fellowship (2015–17)
    • Early Career Travel Award (3rd Asia-Pacific Coral Reef Symposium), Japan Coral Reef Society (JCRS) (2014)
    • Early Career Travel Awards (Ocean Sciences Meetings), ASLO (2012, 2014)
    • JSPS Postdoctoral Fellowship (2011–13)
    • Fulbright Western Australia Scholarship (2009–11)
    read more
    • UNESCO IOC / IMarEST Western Australian Marine Science Postgraduate Award (2011)
    • Gregory Schwartz Enrichment Grant, Australian-American Fulbright Commission (2010)
    • Australian Postgraduate Award  (2006–09)
    • Samaha Research Scholarship  (2006–09)
    • CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Postgraduate Scholarship (2006–09)
    • Australian Marine Sciences Association (AMSA) Allen Award (2008)
    • Oxford University Press Prize (AMSA 2007)
    • Janice Klumpp Award, UWA (2007)
    • Australian Coral Reef Society Research Award (2007)
    • Science Union First Year Botany Prize, UWA (1999)

    Specialist Qualifications & Training

    • Technical Diving – Technical Diving International (TDI) / Scuba Schools International (SSI)
      • SSI CCR Extended Range Trimix (rEvo)
      • TDI Trimix Diver
      • TDI Decompression Procedures Diver
      • TDI Advanced Nitrox Diver
      • TDI Nitrox Gas Blender
    • Commercial Diving – Australian Diver Accreditation Scheme (ADAS)
      • ADAS Part 1 – SCUBA to 30 m
      • ADAS Part 2 (Restricted) – SSBA to 30 m
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      • Small Boat Operator (Coxswain)
      • Marine Radio Operators Certificate of Proficiency (MROCP)
      • Tropical Offshore Basic Survival Induction and Emergency Training (TBOSIET)
      • Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (HUET)
      • Senior First Aid/CPR & Advanced Oxygen Resuscitation


    ➥For latest publications and citation details see Google Scholar


    1. Hiung, D.L.S., Schuster, J., Duncan, M., Payne, N., Helmuth, B., Chu, J., Baum, J., Brambilla, V., Bruno, J., Davies, S., Dornelas, M., Gagnon, P., Guy-Haim, T., Jackson, J., Leichter, J., Madin, J., Monteith, Z., Queirós, A., Schneider, E., Starko, S., Talwar, B., Wyatt, A.S.J., Aichelman, H., Bensoussan, N., Caruso, C., Castillo, K., Choi, F., Dong, Y.-W., Garrabou, J., Guillemain, D., Higgs, N., Jiang, Y., Kersting, D., Kushner, D., Longo, G., Neufeld, C., Peirache, M., Smyth, T., Sprague, J., Urvoy, G., Zuberer, F. and Bates, A. (in press) Ocean weather, biological rates and unexplained global ecological patterns. PNAS Nexus.
    2. Wyatt, A.S.J., Leichter, J.J., Washburn, L., Kui, L., Edmunds, P.J. and Burgess, S.C. (2023) Hidden heatwaves and severe coral bleaching linked to mesoscale eddies and thermocline dynamics. Nature Communications 14: 25. [link]
    3. Skinner, C., Cobain, M., Zhu, Y., Wyatt, A.S.J. and Polunin, N. (2022) Progress and direction in the use of stable isotopes to understand complex coral reef ecosystems: a review. Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review 60: 373-432. [link]
    4. Skinner, C., Pei, Y., Morimoto, N., Miyajima, T. and Wyatt, A.S.J. (2022) Stable isotopes elucidate body-size and seasonal fluctuations in the feeding strategies of planktivorous fishes across a semi-enclosed tropical embayment. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 10: 942968. [link]
    5. Cybulski, J.D., Skinner, C., Wan, Z., Wong, C.K.M., Toonen, R.J., Gaither, M.R., Soong, K., Wyatt, A.S.J. and Baker, D.M. (2022) Improving stable isotope assessments of inter- and intra-species variation in coral reef fish trophic strategies. Ecology and Evolution 12: e9221. [link]
    6. Bennett-Williams, J., Skinner, C., Wyatt, A.S.J., McGill, R.A.R. and Willis, T.J. (2022) A Multi-Tissue, Multi-Species Assessment of Lipid and Urea Stable Isotope Biases in Mesopredator Elasmobranchs. Frontiers in Marine Science 9: 821478. [link]
    7. Johnston, E.C., Wyatt, A.S.J., Leichter, J.J. and Burgess, S.C. (2022) Niche differences in co-occurring cryptic coral species (Pocillopora spp.). Coral Reefs 41: 767-778. [link]
    8. Burgess, S.C, Johnston, E.C., Wyatt, A.S.J., Leichter, J.J. and Edmunds, P.J. (2021) Hidden Differences in Bleaching Among Cryptic Coral Species. The Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 102: e01885. [link]
    9. Burgess, S.C, Johnston, E.C., Wyatt, A.S.J., Leichter, J.J. and Edmunds, P.J. (2021) Response diversity in corals: hidden differences in bleaching mortality among cryptic Pocillopora species. Ecology: e03324. [link]
    10. James, A.K., Washburn, L., Gotschalk, C., Maritorena, S., Alldredge, A., Nelson, C.E., Hench, J.L., Leichter, J.J., Wyatt, A.S.J. and Carlson, C.A. (2020) An Island Mass Effect Resolved Near Moorea, French Polynesia. Frontiers in Marine Science 7: 16. [link]
    11. Wyatt, A.S.J., Leichter, J.J., Toth, L.T., Miyajima, T., Aronson, R.B. and Nagata, T. (2020) Heat accumulation on coral reefs mitigated by internal waves. Nature Geoscience 13: 28-34. [link]
    12. Wyatt, A.S.J., Matsumoto, R., Chikaraishi, Y., Miyairi, Y., Yokoyama, Y., Sato, K., Ohkouchi, N. and Nagata, T. (2019) Enhancing insights into foraging specialization in the world’s largest fish using a multi-tissue, multi-isotope approach. Ecological Monographs 89: e01339. [link]
    13. Edmunds, P., 20 co-authors, Wyatt, A.S.J. and Mitarai, S. (2018) Critical information gaps impeding understanding of the role of larval connectivity among coral reef islands in an era of global change. Frontiers in Marine Science 5: 290. [link]
    14. Bird, C., Veríssimo, A., Magozzi, S., 67 co-authors, Wyatt, A.S.J., Yool, A. & Trueman, C. (2018) A global perspective on the trophic geography of sharks. Nature Ecology & Evolution 2: 299–305. [link]
    15. Ohkouchi, N., 14 co-authors, Wyatt, A.S.J., Yamaguchi, Y.T. and Yokoyama, Y. (2017) Advances in the application of amino acid nitrogen isotopic analysis in ecological and biogeochemical studies. Organic Geochemistry 113: 150-174. [link]
    16. Beitia, C., Nakayama, K., Maruya, Y., Ohtsu, N., Yamasaki, S., Yamane, M., Wyatt, A.S.J. and Komai, K. (2016) Suspended sediment transport estimation by X-ray fluorescence analysis. Annual Journal of Hydraulic Engineering 72: I_039-I_044. [link]
    17. Wyatt, A.S.J., Lowe, R.J., Humphries, S. and Waite, A.M. (2013) Particulate nutrient fluxes over a fringing coral reef: source-sink dynamics inferred from carbon to nitrogen ratios and stable isotopes. Limnology and Oceanography 58: 409-427. [link]
    18. Thibodeau, B., Miyajima, T., Tayasu, I., Wyatt, A.S.J., Watanabe, A., Morimoto, N., Yoshimizu, C. and Nagata, T. (2013) Heterogeneous dissolved organic nitrogen supply in a coral reef: First evidence from nitrogen stable isotope ratios. Coral Reefs 32:1103–1110. [link]
    19. Leichter, J.J., 14 co-authors and Wyatt, A.S.J. (2013) Biological and Physical Interactions on a Tropical Island Coral Reef: Transport and Retention Processes Around Moorea, French Polynesia. Oceanography 26: 52–63. [link]
    20. Waite, A.M., Rossi, V., Roughan, M., Tilbrook, B., Akl, J., Thompson, P.A., Feng, M., Wyatt, A.S.J. and Raes, E.J. (2013) Formation and maintenance of high-nitrate, low pH layers in the Eastern Indian Ocean and the role of nitrogen fixation. Biogeosciences 10: 5691-5702. [link]
    21. Wyatt, A.S.J., Waite, A.M. and Humphries, S. (2012) Stable isotope analysis reveals community-level variation in fish trophodynamics across a fringing coral reef. Coral Reefs 31: 1029-1044. [link]
    22. Wyatt, A.S.J., Falter, J.L., Lowe, R.J., Humphries, S. and Waite, A.M. (2012) Oceanographic forcing of nutrient uptake and release over a fringing coral reef. Limnology and Oceanography 57: 402-419. [link]
    23. Haas, A.F., Nelson, C.E., Wegley Kelly, L., Carlson, C.A., Rohwer, F., Leichter, J.J., Wyatt, A. and Smith, J.E. (2011) Effects of coral reef benthic primary producers on dissolved organic carbon and microbial activity. PLoS ONE 6: e27973. [link]
    24. Patten, N., Wyatt, A.S.J., Lowe, R.J. and Waite, A.M. (2011) Uptake of picophytoplankton, bacterioplankton and virioplankton by a fringing coral reef community (Ningaloo Reef, Australia). Coral Reefs 30: 555-567. [link]
    25. Wyatt, A.S.J., Humphries, S. and Waite, A.M. (2010) Variability in isotope discrimination factors in coral reef fishes: Implications for diet and food web reconstruction. PLoS One 5: e13682. [link]
    26. Wyatt, A.S.J., Lowe, R., Humphries, S. and Waite, A.M. (2010) Particulate nutrient fluxes over a fringing coral reef: scales of phytoplankton production and mechanisms of supply. Marine Ecology Progress Series 405: 131-130. [link]
    27. Nakayama, K., Kiyoki, S., Ishikawa, T. and Wyatt, A.S.J. (2005) Mechanism Responsible for Front Around Tokyo Bay Mouth. Japan Society of Civil Engineers Annual Journal of Hydraulic Engineering 49: 1291-1296 [in Japanese].
    28. Nakayama, K., Kiyoki, S. and Wyatt, A. (2005) Mechanism responsible for mixing at the mouth of Tokyo Bay. Civil Engineering in the Oceans VI. American Society of Civil Engineers, Reston, Virgina. pp.132-144. [link]
    29. Wyatt, A.S.J., Hewitt, C.L., Walker, D.I. and Ward, T.J. (2005) Marine Introductions in the Shark Bay World Heritage Property, Western Australia: a preliminary assessment. Diversity and Distributions 11: 33-44. [link]

    Invited Presentations

    1. Wyatt, A.S.J. (2022) Links between coral reef ecosystems and ocean dynamics driven by internal waves. The 2nd International Conference on Biodiversity, Ecology and Conservation of Marine Ecosystems (BECoME), City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 6 January.
    2. Wyatt, A.S.J. (2020) Ecological impacts of internal waves on globally threatened coral reef ecosystems. Division for Ecology and Biodiversity, School of Biological Sciences, Hong Kong University, Hong Kong, 6 November.
    3. Wyatt, A.S.J. (2019) New approaches for exploring coral reef structure and function: Understanding and preserving a globally threatened ecosystem. Yale-NUS College, National University of Singapore, Singapore, 30 January.
    4. Wyatt, A.S.J. (2019) New approaches for exploring coral reef structure and function: Understanding and preserving a globally threatened ecosystem. Department of Ocean Science, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong, 24 January.
    5. Wyatt, A.S.J. (2018) New approaches for exploring coral reef structure and function: Understanding and preserving a globally threatened ecosystem. Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, 7 February.
    6. Wyatt, A.S.J. (2017) Enhancing multi-tissue isotopic insights into foraging specialization by quantifying growth and nutritional history in elasmobranchs. In: Sato, K. (ed) 第3回 研究者交流座談会軟骨魚類の生理学・繁殖学研究の発展にむけて| The Third Researcher Symposium on Elasmobranch Physiology and Reproduction: Towards overcoming research challenges. Okinawa Churashima Foundation, Nago, Okinawa, Japan, 1-2 Decenber.
    7. Leichter, J.J. and Wyatt, A.S.J. (2017) Internal wave dynamics and the ecology of coral reefs in the Western, Central and Eastern Pacific: A context or collaborative research. Institute of Marine Biology, National Sun Yat-sen University, Taiwan, 13 October.
    8. Wyatt, A.S.J. (2015) Into the twilight zone: Approaches for understanding the environmental drivers and trophic responses of mesophotic coral ecosystems. The 18th Annual Conference of the Japanese Coral Reef Society. Young Scientists (若手会) Mini-Symposium. Tokyo, Japan. 26-29 November.
    9. Wyatt, A.S.J. (2015) Oceanographic ecology of coral reef ecosystems and organisms: stable and radio isotope insights. Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Onna, Okinawa, Japan, 24 March.
    10. Wyatt, A.S.J. (2014) Stable isotope approaches for understanding the trophic ecology of elasmobranchs focusing on feeding and aggregation of planktivores. In: Sato, K. (ed) 第1回 研究者交流座談会 軟骨魚類の生理学・繁殖学研究~諸課題とその克服にむけて | The First Researcher Symposium on Elasmobranch Physiology and Reproduction: Towards overcoming research challenges. Okinawa Churashima Foundation, Nago, Okinawa, Japan, 14-15 June
    11. Wyatt, A.S.J. (2013) The oceanographic ecology of coral reef ecosystems: isotopic insights into nutrient fluxes and trophodynamics. Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Onna, Okinawa, Japan, 18 September.
    12. Wyatt, A.S.J. (2013) Oceanographic ecology of coral reef ecosystems: isotopic insights. Tokai University, Shimizu, Shizuoka, Japan, 17 July.

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