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About the Lab

The Cetacean Ecology Lab is based at The Swire Institute of Marine Science (SWIMS), The University of Hong Kong (HKU).  The Lab was established in 2011 by Dr. Leszek Karczmarski, Associate Professor at the School of Biological Sciences, HKU and Research Scientist at SWIMS.


The Cetacean Ecology Lab conducts a diverse array of studies, with a broad focus in cetacean ecology, behaviour and conservation.  Our research interests intersect disciplines such as behavioural and socio-ecology, population ecology, population modelling, spatial and molecular ecology, socio-demographics, and conservation biology.  Our work involves both independent empirical research and applied science, especially ecological and behavioural applications in the conservation of species and habitats.  We are also interested in research questions outside the marine mammal field and expand into areas of comparative behavioural ecology, evolutionary behaviour and mammalian socio-dynamics, especially group living mammals, both marine and terrestrial.


Our geographic location in Hong Kong, a gateway to Southeast Asia and Western Pacific, gives us a unique opportunity to study little known species and regions and explore novel research topics.  Some of our past and present projects have reached as far afield as Hawaii, the Red Sea, southern Africa, Central and South America.  Our primary focus, however, targets the Asia-Pacific region.  In Hong Kong and Pearl River Delta, our focus species is the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis), locally in China and Taiwan known as the Chinese White Dolphin, a flag-ship species for coastal conservation management in the region.  Further afield in Asia-Pacific, we study both coastal and semi-pelagic species; our field methods range from focal behaviour sampling to photo-ID mark-recapture techniques, to minimally invasive tissue sampling for genetic and biochemical analyses, and currently implementing remote sensing and satellite telemetry.


We also examine novel topics in terrestrial mammalian behaviour, in both Southeast Asia and southern Africa.  We believe this will broaden our understanding of comparative behavioural ecology and its application in developing effective conservation management strategies for long-lived and socially complex species.



© Ricky Tang

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