Principal Investigator


Stefano Cannicci

I’m an Associate Professor at the School of Biological Science and Resident Researcher at the Swire Institute of Marine Science (SWIMS), HKU. I’ve been studying mangrove ecology and biodiversity all over the world (Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Hong Kong and, recently, Brazil) for more than 20 years. I’m interested in the patterns of diversity of crabs and molluscs in mangroves and in their role in ecosystem functioning. I also study the behavioural ecology, eco-physiology, taxonomy and phylogenetic relationship of Sesarmidae and fiddler crabs, which are the most common taxa present in Indo-Pacific mangroves. I have more than 90 publications in peer-reviewed international scientific journals and I am an invited member of the Mangrove Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the largest organization devoted to nature conservation.

My HKU Hub page:

My Researchgate page:

My Google Scholar page:

Postgraduate Students


Laura Elisabeth Agusto

My interest for mangroves germinated during my M.Sc. studies after visiting East-Africa and experiencing the muddiness firsthand. However, my love for mangroves sprouted due to one of my professors who taught me the strong dependency of humanity on these invaluable ecosystems, still underestimated and underappreciated. My scientific interests lie within applied ecology and center mainly around mangrove restoration. However, among all the factors piecing together a successful mangrove restoration, many remain unknown. As mangrove crabs play a key role in maintaining a healthy mangrove ecosystem, my studies aim at unveiling the ecological impacts of mangrove crab burrows on ecosystem health, with an eye on their role in mangrove restoration. I am currently exploring the use of low cost 3D techniques to visualize and analyze some known and unknown crab burrow morphologies within Hong Kong mangroves and will continue into investigating the differential impacts of crabs on young plant growth.


Rebekah Butler

I’m a PhD student at SWIMS, HKU and my research focuses on the influence of human impacts on important mangrove fauna, namely mangrove crabs. I am particularly interested in the influence of human activity on coastal marine ecosystems and have previously studied at the University of Exeter’s Centre for Ecology and Conservation where my research focused on the influence of anthropogenic coastal structures on the local biodiversity of natural rocky shores. When I’m not knee deep in mangrove mud, I’m probably eating… I love cooking vegetarian cuisine whilst listening to my favourite music and jump at any chance to enjoy live music and arts.


Pedro Jimenez

I am a PhD candidate through the University of Hong Kong. Currently I am interested in the physiology and behaviour of mangrove crabs, and their responses in face of the global warming. My PhD project aims to study the physiological stress caused by temperature and the tolerance limits to this factor of some fiddler crab species, and also to investigate how the temperature can impact on those animals’ behaviour and bioturbation activities, thus to understand how the possible impacts of the global warming may reflect on estuarine ecosystems. And about myself, I am a guy with a weird taste for music, and that feel happy with the simple things of life, like a cold beer in a hot day (Also in not so hot days).


Curtis Huang

I’m currently interested in the arboreal ants and their role in the mangrove ecosystem. Though there has been much literature on the other organisms in the mangroves, ants remain relatively explored. My focus is on the distribution of species and discovering what specializations they have formed in order for them to adapt into the high salinity, low-nutrient mangrove environments.


Sara Fratini (Post-doctoral Research Fellow)


João Marcelo Silva (PhD Exchange)

I’m interested in the heavy metal dynamics throughout mangroves, including abiotic (sediments) and biotic (mangrove trees and crabs) compartments. Food preference among leaf eating crabs is another subject of my interest and I aim to evaluate if crabs can choose between leaves from different species and/or under different degrees of metal contamination