The University of Mauritius Research Week (UoM RW) has been held on an annual basis since 2007 and was organized for the 9th time from 19-23 September 2016. The Research Week is geared towards dissemination of knowledge generated through research activities at the University and by relevant stakeholders in accordance with the UoM’s vision of “Excellence in Research and Innovation”. In line with national priorities, the UoM organizes this event to provide insightful research outcomes not only for the advancement of academic knowledge, but for the benefit of the community at large, through robust policy recommendations.

Out of the multiple submissions made during the UoM RW 2016, a number of manuscripts in the field of ocean/marine sciences were selected to be published in the Western Indian Ocean Journal of Marine Science (WIOJMS), as a special issue entitled “Coral reefs of Mauritius in a changing global climate”.

This issue is presented in the context of Mauritius being surrounded by a beautiful but delicate coral reef ecosystem, which provides ample ecosystem services contributing to the national economy, but which is subjected to extreme climatic events. Hence, in this special issue several contributions advancing our scientific understanding for sustainable use and management of marine resources in a globally changing marine environment are articulated. The original article by Mattan-Moorgawa et al. investigates the photo-physiology of diseased and non-diseased corals. Coral diseases are becoming more common on reefs worldwide due to both local and global stressors. Ramah et al. then present a short communication related to substrate affinity by two giant clam species found on the Mauritian coral reefs. Giant clams are under threat worldwide and information on their substrate affinity and habitat aims at providing insightful information towards their sustainable management. In addition, Nandoo et al., in an effort to optimize nucleic acid extraction protocols from marine gastropods, present an original article based on a comparative study using the gastropod genera Planaxis, Cypraea and Drupella. These marine gastro pods are ecologically important for coral reefs, especially the coral-eating Drupella. Moreover, given the importance of intertidal molluscs, Kaullysing et al. document the density and diversity of the benthic molluscs while comparing sheltered and exposed coastal habitats. Appadoo & Beeltah report on the biology of Platorchestia sp. (Crustacea, Amphipoda) at Poste La Fayette, Mauritius. Studies on Amphipod diversity and distribution are important especially since studies on marine biodiversity are scarce around Mauritius. Another original article by Ragoonaden et al. analyses the recent acceleration of sea level rise in Mauritius and Rodrigues. Such studies are more important than ever in the light of a globally changing marine environment with small island states faced with issues related to rising sea level.

Two field notes, based on field observations, are presented by Bhagooli et al., documenting a variety of coral diseases, and Stylophora pistillata-like morphotypes occurring around Mauritius Island, respectively. Kaullysing et al. also present a field note on coral-eating gastropods observed around Mauritius. Apart from the local contributors, international collaborators also contribute two original articles in this special issue. Casareto et al. characterize the chemical and biological aspects of a coral reef of Mauritius focusing on benthic carbon and nitrogen fixation. These studies related to benthic productivity are important for understanding sustainability of coral reefs and/or lagoonal fisheries. On the other hand, Tokumoto et al. document the first detection of membrane progestin receptor (mPR)-interacting compounds from Mauritian coral reef and lagoonal seawater. They used cutting-edge technology to detect key regulators of reproduction in seawater. These contributions in terms of original articles, short communications, and field notes generate new scientific knowledge that may better inform policy and decision making in the field of coral reef studies and management in Mauritius, while contributing to the understanding of coral reefs in the wider Western Indian Ocean region.

Prof. Sanjeev K. Sobhee 
Pro-Vice Chancellor (Academia) 
The University of Mauritius