Annual summary


2021 annual summary

Because of the covid pandemic, I didn’t have any travel in 2021. It’s a big difference from 2019 just before the covid when I traveled almost nonstop. But, it doesn’t mean time has passed slowly. Numerous things have kept me similarly busy or I may have been even busier than 2019 somehow. So, as usual, time has flown and it’s already late December, time to look back 2021 and write annual summary.

First of all, warm welcome to Jingwen, Pedro, and He! Jingwen started her Mphil from this September, Pedro started his postdoc from this August, and He has just arrived as a postdoctoral researcher in this October. So our core team is now composed of 1 Mphil (Jingwen), 2 PhDs (Kk and Skye), 3 postdocs (He, Pedro, and Yuanyuan), and myself, as well as our great co-supervising students and interns/volunteers. We miss May. She has started her Peter Buck Postdoctoral Fellowship at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.

Our 2021 was productive. One important event was the publication of the UN’s Second World Ocean Assessment. I helped four chapters on High-latitude ice, Estuaries and deltas, Continental slopes and submarine canyons, and Abyssal plains. I am glad to see this our after good bunch of fun collaborative works and travels for the past several years. Another international collaborative effort is our deoxygenation review paper led by Gant Pitcher. This is probably the most comprehensive and up-to-date review on coastal and ocean systems suffered by deoxygenation worldwide. I wrote mainly on Japanese embayments and my former student May wrote on the Sea of Japan.

This was my first time to work on PETM, a well known hyperthermal event at the Paleocene-Eocene transition. My student Skye Tian published two papers on it. One is pale-depth reconstruction at the time using ostracod eye size. We showed ostracod eye size is useful as a paleo-depth proxy in deep time when all species were composed of already extinct ones and “modern analog” methods cannot be used. The other one is a reconstruction of ecosystem changes through the PETM in a shallow marine setting. PETM paleoecological studies have been done more on deep-sea and pelagic setting, and ecosystem impact of PETM in shallow marine benthic systems remain poorly understood. We used a core in the US coastal Plain and showed that warming-induced OMZ (oxygen minimum zone) expansion caused shallow marine habitat compression above the OMZ ad resulting extinctions. This is exactly what we worry as a consequence of ongoing and future climatic warming. We enjoyed fun collaboration with Marci Robinson, Fabien Condamine, and our May Huang.

Tian, S.Y.*, Yasuhara, M*., Robinson, M. M., Huang, H.-H.M., 2021. Ostracod eye size: A taxonomy-free indicator of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum sea level. Marine Micropaleontology.

Tian, S. Y.*, Yasuhara, M.*, Huang, H. H. M.*, Condamine, F. L.*, Robinson, M. M.*, 2021. Shallow marine ecosystem collapse and recovery during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. Global and Planetary Change: 103649.

Happy to tell now we know much better about our Hong Kong local marine ecosystem and human-induced and climatic impacts on it. My postdoc Yuanyuan Hong conducted a comprehensive conservation paleobiology study here in Hong Kong. Yuanyuan compared surface (“present”, covering the last 5 years) and subsurface (“past”, covering the last 50–100 years) sediments from grab samples as the “live and dead” comparison to understand changes of Hong Kong marine ecosystem for the past 50-100 years. With great help from Chih-Lin Wei and Anne Chao on stats and Paul Harnik on interpretation/discussion, we found Hong Kong marine ecosystem is complicated, but also found clear signals of climatic (Asian monsoon) and human (metal pollution) impacts on it. Precipitation-related climatic impact was stronger in the eastern water and on rare species. Pollution impact was stronger in the central Hong Kong (Victoria Harbour). Hong Kong’s marine ecosystem has been dynamic for the last 50-100 years with influenced by Asian monsoon and pollution. It’s very interesting eutrophication and deoxygenation didn’t show much effect! Also we show Hong Kong wide biogeographic distribution again using ostracods, showing a vast southern water biofacies and the peak diversity at the central Hong Kong. This is consistent with the results of previous studies using macrofauna. So, ostracod is a good model system and represent biogeographic characteristics of broader benthic community! This is still a pre-proof manuscript and the typeset final version will be published soon. Anyway, these studies opened new doors of Hong Kong paleobiology and we found and are excited that there are many things to do to better understand Hong Kong ecosystem history!

Hong, Y.*, Yasuhara, M.*, Iwatani, H.*, Chao, A.*, Harnik, P.G.*, Wei, C.-L.*, 2021. Ecosystem turnover in an urbanized subtropical seascape driven by climate and pollution. Anthropocene: 100304.

I have been working with Hideyuki Doi and Masayuki Ushio long time on various topics, especially on applications of an empirical dynamic modelling, convergent cross mapping (CCM). I am very glad the 1st paper from this collaboration have been finally out this year. We applied CCM for a long-standing debate in deep-sea ecology: Temperature or particulate organic carbon (POC) flux (marine snow or food for deep-sea benthos)? Which is the major driver of deep-sea biodiversity? Our causality analysis showed the temperature impact on deep-sea biodiversity, but no the POC impact detected. We added one more supporting piece on temperature control of deep-sea biodiversity.

Doi, H.*, Yasuhara, M.*, Ushio, M.*, 2021. Causal analysis of the temperature impact on deep-sea biodiversity. Biology Letters, 17(7): 20200666.

Also glad to have a deep-sea ostracod taxonomy paper. This paper will help to understand deep-sea ostracod taxonomy and biogeography in low latitudes. This may be the final paper that the major part was done during my postdoc time 🙂 It’s good I still have data from my postdoc time after >10 years!

Yasuhara, M.*, Okahashi, H., Huang, H.-H.M., Hong, Y., Iwatani, H., Chu, R.W.C., Hunt, G., 2021. Quaternary equatorial Atlantic deep-sea ostracodes: evidence for a distinct tropical fauna in the deep sea. Journal of Paleontology: 1-41.

2021 remained mostly virtual regarding conferences and seminars. It was my great honor to be a keynote speaker in one of my home conferences, the 16th Deep Sea Biology Symposium. I also enjoyed to speak at the face-to-face! Ecology&Biodiversity symposium here in our research division @HKU. Thanks to May for inviting me to the Smithsonian’s Paleobiology seminar series. It was my third time to give my Paleobiology seminar. The last one was in 2016 face to face, and this time was online, but still great chatching up with my old and new friends. I have also started to work as an editor for Journal of Paleontology and Journal of Micropalaeontology.

Outlook for 2022
In 2021, I have worked with various fun international collaborations related to DOSI climate-green geoengineering, high sea, horizon scan, paleo time series, conservation paleo, paleo big questions, etc. Hope we will have fruitful outcomes in 2022 or so. For my own research in 2022, I will continue to pursue “Time Machine Biology”. Especially I have several major ideas/projects on past-present-future tropical biodiversity. Also various exciting studies of my students and postdocs are at various stages from in prep to in press. Our lab has just been started a deep-learning automation/automatic identification project. I hope to have certain level of establishment of this line of our research next year. I have been thinking and poking around new major things I like to do in the next 5-10 years during this holiday season. It’s a bit in a fog and I found I have no clear cut at this moment. It will be probably somehow related to tropical diversity. I will need an understanding from my gut on tropical diversity and ostracods to have a clearer idea. My students’ research will give us such understanding in few years. I also have some ideas on really deep-time Ordovician paleo, circumpolar species distribution, invasive species, Hong Kong paleo history, etc etc. I also keep my interests in hard-core paleoceanography, especially abrupt climate changes, AMOC etc. Anyway, stay tuned and have a happy holiday season and new year!

2019 annual summary

2019-12-19 19.58.36
2019 year-end diner

We had really productive 2019. All of my postgraduate students graduated had a 1st author paper each this year (Ruby’s paper in press)! Time always flies, and this year is already ending in a few days. So, it’s the good time to look back this year. Below, we summarize our 2019.

Northwestern Pacific paleoecology
During Circle Hong’s PhD, she obtained ostracod census data from all EPD monitoring sites. Her paper this year on Hong Kong ostracod distribution is an imopotant baseline for ostracod-based paleo reconstructions in broad Asian coasts. Several years ago, Richard Cheung visited Tongji University to obtain 1980s classic ostracod census data from East and South China Seas from Quanhong Zhao. Richard compared his new ostracod census data in the Yangtze River estuary with the1980s data. The results showed impact of damming and eutrophication on Yangtze River estuary benthic ecosystem. May Huang studied a Sea of Japan IODP site and revealed that a mid Pleistocene climatic shift known as the mid-Brunhes event affected benthic ecosystems substantially. Caren Shin added our knowledge on Cenozoic tropical diversity in the region by studying Neogene ostracods from Java.

Hong, Y., Yasuhara, M., Iwatani, H., Mamo, M., 2019 Baseline for ostracod-based northwestern Pacific and Indo-Pacific shallow-marine paleoenvironmental reconstructions: ecological modeling of species distributions. Biogeosciences: 16, 585-604. doi:10.5194/bg-16-585-2019

Cheung, R. C. W., Yasuhara, M., Iwatani, H., Wei, C. L., Dong, Y. W., 2019. Benthic community history in the Changjiang (Yangtze River) mega-delta: Damming, urbanization, and environmental control. Paleobiology: 45, 469–483. doi:10.1017/pab.2019.21

Huang, H. H. M., Yasuhara, M., Iwatani, H., Yamaguchi, T. Yamada, K., Mamo, B., 2019. Deep-sea ostracod faunal dynamics in a marginal sea: biotic response to oxygen variability and mid-Pleistocene global changes. Paleobiology: 45, 85-97. doi:10.1017/pab.2018.37

Shin, C. P., Yasuhara, M., Iwatani, H., Kase, T., Fernando, A. G. S., Hayashi, H., Kurihara, Y., Pandita, H., 2019. Neogene marine ostracod diversity and faunal composition in Java, Indonesia: Indo-Australian Archipelago biodiversity hotspot and the Pliocene diversity jump. Journal of Crustacean Biology: doi:10.1093/jcbiol/ruy110

2019-05-29 12.27.44
Moriaki with Saskia, the leader of the IceAGE project in the Crustacean Society Meeting at Chinese University of Hong Kong

IceAGE outcome

I joined a deep-sea biology cruise of the IceAGE (ICElandic marine Animals: Genetics and Ecology) project led by Saskia Brix in 2011 just after my arriving to Hong Kong. We obtained deep-sea sediment samples around Iceland that cover important North Atlantic Gateway region. The ostracod result has published by Anna Jöst this year. We appreciate Chih-Lin Wei who helped us a lot with analyses. The results showed that deep-sea diversity is controlled by both temperature and POC flux. Our beta diversity analyses showed the Greenland‐Iceland‐Faeroe Ridge is an effective barrier for deep-sea organisms. Ostracod shows standard latitudinal and depth gradients as well as temperature control of  diversity (now known both in modern distribution and fossil time series in ostracoda, that is important support of deep-sea diversity-temperature relationshiop), indicating ostracods as an useful model system of large-scale diversity studies both in macroecology (present) and paleoecology (past), given their excellent fossil records. North Atlantic Gateway region provides a text book example of deep-sea macroecology and biogeography.

Jöst, A. B., Yasuhara, M., Wei, C. L., Okahashi, H., Ostmann, A., Martínez Arbizu, P., Mamo, B., Svavarsson, J., Brix, S., 2019. North Atlantic Gateway: Test bed of deep‐sea macroecological patterns. Journal of Biogeography: 46, 2056–2066. doi:10.1111/jbi.13632

Visits & collaborations
Moriaki, Hisayo, Circle, and Skye Tian had a wonderful visit to Nanjingn (Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, CAS) and Beijing (China University of Geosciences) to start collaboration with Yaqiong Wang, Dangpeng Xi, and other people.

2019-10-15 11.05.23
A dinner in Beijing with Yaqiong Wang, Dangpeng Xi, and his students
2019-10-09 20.18.15
With Yaqiong Wang, Yanhong Pan, and their lab members, Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology
2019-10-11 14.37.23
Moriaki’s seminar at China University of Geosc
2019-10-09 09.38.30
Circle, Skye, and Moriaki with our seminar poster in Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology

Yasuhara lab is starting collaboration with Sun Yat-sen University (palynology lab led by Zhuo Zheng and Vincent Kangyou Huang). Circle had three (I had two) visits to Sun Yat-sen University at Guangzhou.

2019-12-17 17.16.30
A group photo of our workshop, Sun Yat-sen University at Guangzhou
group photo-in SYSU
In the Zhuo Zheng’s office
2019-11-06 13.09.08
Moriaki with Vincent

P-SEEDS workshop @Okinawa
One of the highlights this year was our P-SEEDS (Paleobiology as the Synthetic Ecological, Evolutionary and Diversity Science) workshop in Okinawa that was great success.
Yasuhiro Kibota, University of the Ryukyus, and I organized the workshop. Circle and May joined from our lab. ~20 world leading paleontologists and ecologists in various career stages including HKU colleagues Tim Bonebrake and Ryan McKenzie, Chhaya Chaudhary joined the workshop and had fruitful discussion on various integrated areas of paleontology and ecology. We are  thrilled and will produce many collaborative works from P-SEEDS! We also had ostracod craft IPA!

2019-11-24 16.29.18
Seth, Paul, and Moriaki
2019-11-24 16.28.37
Good walk and shell hunting at a beach after the workshop

We miss several people
Hokuto Iwatani got an assistant professor position in Yamaguchi University, Japan.
Briony Mamo went back to Sydney/Macquarie.
Anna Jöst got a postdoc fellowship and moved to Hanyang University, Korea.
May Huang successfully finished her PhD. After her short postdoc in GeoZentrum Nordbayern, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany, she has just come back to Hong Kong and joined Tim Bonebrake Lab as a postdoc researcher.
Rachel Chu finished her excellent FYP on cold seep ostracods and graduated.
So, our lab is now tiny but still mighty (I hope!).

2019-06-18 19.21.06
A fairwell
2019-04-11 21.36.18
Celebration of May’s successful PhD defense!
Current Member
Current member

Regarding myself
I have traveled a lot (probably too much), including my “Tiny fossils, big questions, big data” session with Aaron O’Dea, Elizabeth Sibert and Jack Williams in NAPC @UC Riverside, “Deep-sea Biodiversity: A Crustacean Perspective” symposium with Saskia Brix and Chih-Lin Wei in the  Crustacean Society Mid-Year Meeting @Chinese University of Hong Kong, keynote in the linking land and sea session by Sarah Davies, Helena Filipsson et al. in INQUA @Dublin, plenary “Deep-sea drilling perspective on paleobiology” in the 13th International Conference on Paleoceanography @Sydney, and plenary on deep-sea biodiversityin the European Ostracodologists’ Meeting @Poland. The 9th Biennial Conference of the International Biogeography Society @Malaga was fun as well. I also enjoyed bioDISCOVERY @Cornell University, World Ocean Assessment II writer meeting @UN NY, Deep Ocean Climate Connections workshop @Scripps, GO2NE @UNESCO Paris, and International symposium on coastal ecosystem change in Asia: hypoxia, eutrophication, and nutrient conditions @Ehime University. I appreciate their inviting me to these fantastic opportunities.

Moriaki’s plenary @ICP Sydney
2019-09-06 14.52.50
ICP finale
2019-01-10 23.02.47
Paco Mezquita, Moriaki, Hisayo @IBS Malaga
Deep Ocean Climate Connections workshop
Symposium @Ehime University, Japan
GO2NE 2019
2019-06-14 19.17.45
After GO2NE 2019 meeting
2019-06-27 18.57.26-1
NAPC HKU team!
2019-06-28 08.24.01 HDR
Raccoons @UC Riverside campus
2019-06-27 19.30.24
NAPC, with one of the organizers Nigel Hughes
2019-06-27 22.38.21
After NAPC, HK-Panama-UC people
2019-05-28 20.19.07
Crustacean Society Meeting dinner on Lamma Island
2019-04-04 13.36.48
A Canadian Goose @Cornell bioDISCOVERY meeting
2019-04-04 19.10.27
bioDISCOVERY 2019 meeting @Cornell

ENVS3022 Okinawa field course was fun as usual. In this year, we obtained good paleo samples and data (on the way) that are publishable. Jon Cybulski (who I co-supervise), Ali Corley from Baker Lab, Briony Mamo, Circle, Skye, and Moriaki joined from Hong Kong.

Copy of 20190304_103220
On the way to the sampling site!

Stephen Obrochta visited our lab, and also I visited him @Akita University, Japan, starting new collaboration on Great Barrier Reef origin!

2019-02-16 22.07.38
With Steve in a bar at around High Street

I obtained the 20th Biwako Prize for Ecology, and also took new responsibilities including editorial board membership of Marine Micropaleontology and associate editorship of Palaeoworld.

Biwako Prize ceremony

I continue fruitful collaboration with Hayato Tanaka and described a new species Xylocythere sarrazinae from a hydrothermal vent. Moriaki also participated a global collaboration on trait coding of hydrothermal vent organisms, and the result has published in Global Ecology and Biogeography.

Tanaka, H., Lelièvre, Y., Yasuhara, M., 2019. Xylocythere sarrazinae, a new cytherurid ostracod (Crustacea) from a hydrothermal vent field on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, northeast Pacific Ocean, and its phylogenetic position within Cytheroidea. Marine Biodiversity: 49(6), 2571–2586. doi:10.1007/s12526-019-00987-3

Chapman, A. S. A, Beaulieu, S. E., Colaço, A., Gebruk, A. V., Hilario, A., Kihara, T. C., Ramirez‐Llodra, E., Sarrazin, J., Tunnicliffe, V., Amon, D. J., Baker, M. C., Boschen‐Rose, R. E., Chen, C., Cooper, I. J., Copley, J. T., Corbari, L., Cordes, E. E., Cuvelier, D., Duperron, S., Du Preez, C., Gollner, S., Horton, T., Hourdez, S., Krylova, E. M., Linse, K., LokaBharathi, P. A., Marsh, L., Matabos, M., Mills, S. W., Mullineaux, L. S., Rapp, H. T., Reid, W. D. K., Rybakova (Goroslavskaya), E., Thomas, T. R. A., Southgate, S. J., Stöhr, S., Turner, P. J., Watanabe, H. K., Yasuhara, M., Bates, A. E., 2019. sFDvent: A global trait database for deep‐sea hydrothermal‐vent fauna. Global Ecology and Biogeography: 28, 1538–1551. doi:10.1111/geb.12975

I finally published a long-term collaborative work on centennial scale Holocene NADW dynamics, that I started when I was a postdoc at USGS.

Yasuhara, M., deMenocal, P. B., Dwyer, G. S., Cronin, T. M., Okahashi, H., Huang, H. H. M., 2019. North Atlantic intermediate water variability over the past 20,000 years. Geology: 47, 659–663. doi:10.1130/G46161.1

An popular article summarizing my works on spatio-temporal dynamics of biodiversity has also been published in a Spanish journal Métode in three languages of English, Spanish, and Catalan.

Yasuhara, M., 2019. Marine biodiversity in space and time: What tiny fossils tell. Métode: 9. doi:10.7203/metode.9.11404
(see Publications page for links)

Emanuela Di Martino visited us in 2017. We are glad to have the first collaborative paper together this year.

Di Martino, E., Taylor, P. D., Fernando, A. G. S., Kase, T., Yasuhara, M., 2019. First bryozoan fauna from the middle Miocene of Central Java, Indonesia. Alcheringa: 43, 461–478. doi:10.1080/03115518.2019.1590639

I continue taxonomic works and published two papers on North Pacific deep-sea ostracod and Eocene Madagascar ostracods, describing one new genus and 11 new species.

Yasuhara, M., Hunt, G., Okahashi, H., 2019. Quaternary deep-sea ostracods from the north-western Pacific Ocean: global biogeography and Drake-Passage, Tethyan, Central American and Arctic pathways. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology: 17 (2), 91–110. doi: 10.1080/14772019.2017.1393019

Yasuhara, M., Hong, Y., Tian, S. T., Chong, W. K., Okahashi, H., Littler, K., Cotton, L., 2019. Eocene shallow-marine ostracods from Madagascar: southern end of the Tethys? Journal of Systematic Palaeontology: 17, 705–757. doi:10.1080/14772019.2018.1453555

I also enjoyed to work with IUCN, UNESCO, DOSI for marine conservation global collaboration, outreach, and knowledge exchange, publishing two policy briefs and one book chapter.

Yasuhara, M., Rabalais, N. N., Conley, D. J., Gutiérrez, D., 2019. Palaeo-records of histories of deoxygenation and its ecosystem impact. In: Laffoley, D., Baxter, J. M. (eds), Ocean Deoxygenation: Everyone’s Problem – Causes, Impacts, Consequences and Solutions: 213–224. IUCN, Gland.

Levin, L.A., Wei, C.-L., Dunn, D.C., Amon, D., Ashford, O., Cheung, W., Colaço, A., Escobar, E., Guilloux, B., Harden-Davies, H., Drazen, J.C., Gjerde, K., Ismail, K., Jones, D., Johnson, D., Le, J., Lejzerowicz, F., Mitarai, S., Morato, T., Mulsow, S., Snelgrove, P., Sweetman, A.K., Yasuhara, M., 2019. Climate Change Considerations are Fundamental to Sustainable Management of Deep-Seabed Mining (Policy brief). Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative (DOSI).

Breitburg, D., Grégoire, M., Isensee, K., Chavez, F. P., Conley, D. J., Garçon, V., Gilbert, D., Gutiérrez, D., Jacinto, G. S., Levin, L. A., Limburg, K. E., Montes, I., Naqvi, S. W. A., Oschlies, A., Pitcher, G. C., Rabalais, N. N., Roman, M. R., Rose, K. A., Seibel, B. A., Telszewski, M., Yasuhara, M., Zhang, J. [the IOC expert working group: Global Ocean Oxygen NEtwork (GO2NE)], 2018. The Ocean is losing its breath: declining oxygen in the world’s ocean and coastal waters; summary for policy makers. The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO)

Outlook for 2020
Our lab members and myself have many more exciting new data and studies coming soon or in the pipeline. I am an organizing/scientific committee member of the 5th World Conference on Marine Biodiversity @Auckland New Zealand in December and the 4th Asian ostracod meeting @Mahasarakham University Thailand in November. I will also have an award lecture of the Academic Award of the Paleontological Society of Japan @University of Tokyo in February. I plan to join the World Biodiversity Forum @Davos also in February. So, there should be a lot of fun stuff. We wish 2020 to be fun and productive year for all our lab members, collaborators, and friends!