Giant clams are the largest bivalves in the ocean where they act as “ecosystem engineers.” These iconic creatures can be found along tropical coral reefs and in coastal areas across the Indo-Pacific. Their enormous shells, which can be as large as 4 feet across, contribute to the hard framework of tropical coral reefs and provide habitat for other marine species. Southeast Asia is one of only a handful of regions in the world with a high diversity of giant clam species and, despite existing protections, its giant clam populations have continued to decline in areas where the clams are heavily targeted by humans as a source of food and for decorative materials.
Mei Lin Neo will study threats to giant clam populations in Southeast Asia to identify key drivers of the ongoing declines and opportunities to improve conservation of these threatened invertebrates. She will examine current patterns of giant clam harvesting to better understand the impacts of the curio and aquarium trades, as well as the consumption of giant clams as a traditional food in some coastal communities. Neo will also update species distribution and density maps to identify priority habitats and giant clam populations for conservation.
Neo’s research will produce actionable recommendations for improving giant clam conservation throughout Southeast Asia. She will also convene a first-of-its-kind regional workshop focused on management and protection of giant clam species.
To learn more about Neo, read her bio: https://sjinml.nus.edu.sg/profile-neo-mei-lin/.