Mike Hynes

Mike Hynes in the Field in Bocas del Toro

As part of the 4D-REEF project, my research focuses on looking at how coral reefs have grown and changed throughout the Holocene. To do this we will collect sediment cores from reefs in Makassar, Indonesia. These cores will be able to tell us not only how fast the reef has grown over certain time periods, but can also give insight to what the reef looked like throughout its history. This will allow us to compare the reef before human impact to modern reefs, and help us to predict their future.


Accretion rates, Reef cores, Turbid reefs, Palaeoecology, Carbonate production, Geomorphology


I am a palaeobiologist/geologist by trade. You may be wondering how someone who used to work on dinosaurs ended up looking at coral reefs. This is largely due to my love of the ocean equaling my interest in ancient life.

After completing my bachelor's degree, I ended up working for the Smithsonian in Panama. Here I came to learn how to apply my palaeobiology skills to much more recent animals from reef cores of only 3000 years old, or younger. I was also fortunate enough to work on many projects focusing on modern coral reef ecology. After completing a master's degree on taphonomy (or how things are preserved in the fossil record), I wanted to get back to my passion, and that is examining the history of our coral reefs. Working with 4D-REEF will allow me to compare past and present reefs, so we can better understand and help our coral reefs.

Mike collecting a sponge for tank experiments
Sponge Spicules from Cores


A selection of the topics I am working on currently.

shingle rampart lumulumu

4D-REEF Research Programme

Coral reefs are having a hard time. Reefs in the Coral Triangle stand out for their species richness, yet they are in close proximity to areas with high human population densities. Ongoing anthropogenic environmental changes in the sea, on land and in the…
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Coral reef murky water

(Paleo)ecology of turbid reef ecosystems

When you see coral reefs appearing in nature documentaries, these are usually situated in high visibility, clear water conditions. This is also where the paradigm that coral reefs in nutrient poor conditions originates. However, coral reef ecosystems occur…
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Sponge survey at the Spermonde archipelago, SW Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Impact of urbanisation on coral reef ecosystems

Here we assess the historical impact of human settlement on coral reef environments adjacent to two major conurbations in southeast Asia, namely Jakarta and Makassar. This will be the first study to assess on a large spatial scale how the historical…
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  • Cannon, A. L., Hynes, M. G., Brandt, M., Wold, C., O'Dea, A., Altieri, A. H., & Smith, J. E. (2022). Simulated green turtle grazing reduces seagrass productivity and alters benthic community structure while triggering further disturbance by feeding stingrays. Caribbean Journal of Science52(2), 373-388.   https://doi.org/10.18475/cjos.v52i2.a16
  • Łukowiak M, Cramer KL, Madzia D, Hynes MG, Norris RD, O’Dea A (2018) Historical change in a Caribbean reef sponge community and long-term loss of sponge predators. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 601:127-137. doi: 10.3354/meps12694

Google Scholar Profile


Biodiversity II - University of Leiden

  • Coral practicum
  • Sponge practicum