PhD Candidate

Gehrmann Building, Level 8

School of Biological Sciences- UQ

St Lucia QLD 4072


T: +61 427022988


Nick Hammerman joined the lab in April of 2018. He is originally from the United States where he obtained his Bachelors in Marine Science at Roger Williams University and then completed his Masters in Biological Oceanography at the University of Puerto Rico, Department of Marine Sciences. His work mostly dealt with population genetics, coral/sponge species interactions and mesophotic reef ecology.

Research Interests

Benthic composition and diversity, population genetics, mesophotic coral ecosystems, sponge/coral interactions, paleoecology

Current PhD Project

The fossil record is an indispensable repository for understanding how organisms respond to their changing biotic and abiotic environment over multiple temporal scales. By studying the fossil record, scientists can observe long term changes in community structure in relation to climatic variability, both induced naturally and anthropogenically. Coral-related paleoecology is extremely insightful, since many Cnidaria secrete calcified skeletons at or near isotopic equilibrium with surrounding seawater, and thus can be used as proxies to reconstruct environmental conditions over geological time. In addition, their calcified skeletons are ideal for fossilization and often become embedded and preserved in the limestone bedrock they create, leaving behind a comprehensive mosaic of life histories and community composition. Given the current backdrop of climate change and deleterious phase shifts on coral reefs, paleoecological analysis of Holocene and Pleistocene reef deposits can provide historical and ecological baselines with which to compare modern coral reef decline. By comparing recent with past ecological histories, I aim to identify the ecological drivers that lead to coral phase shifts and to what degree coral reefs within the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia have changed over the past century. In situ surveys will be augmented with sediment cores to infer an even deeper perspective into the coral history of the region.


Rodriguez-Ferrer G, Reyes R, Hammerman NM, Garcia-Hernández JE (2019). Cetacean sightings in Puerto Rican waters: including the first underwater photographic documentation of a minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata). Latin American Journal of Aquatic Mammals 13, 26-36. Doi: 10.5597/lajam00246.

Veglia AJ, Hammerman NM, Rivera-Vicens RE, Schizas NV (2018). De novo transcriptome assembly of the mesophotic plating coral Agaricia lamarcki from Puerto Rico. Marine Genomics 41, 6-11. Doi:10.1016/j.margen.2018.08.003.

Garcia-Hernandez JE*, Sanchez PJ*, Hammerman NM*, Schizas NV (2018). Fish, coral, and sponge assemblages associated with altiphotic and mesophotic reefs along the Guánica Biosphere Reserve continental shelf edge, southwest Puerto Rico. Frontiers in Marine Science. Doi: 10.3389/fmars.2018.00303.

Veglia AJ*, Hammerman NM*, Rivera- Rosaly CR, Lucas M, Galindo- Estronza A, Corgosinho PH, Schizas NV (2018). Characterizing population structure of coral-associated fauna from mesophotic and shallow habitats in the Caribbean. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Doi:10.1017/S0025315418000413.

Hammerman NM, Rivera-Vicens RE, Galaska MP, Weil E, Appeldoorn RS, Alfaro M, Schizas NV (2017). Population connectivity of the plating coral, Agaricia lamarcki from southwest Puerto Rico. Coral Reefs 37, 183-191. Doi: 10.1007/s00338-017-1646-x.

Garcia-Hernandez JE, Hammerman NM, Cruz-Motta JJ, Schizas NV (2017). Endobiotic fauna inhabiting the calcareous sponge Clathrina lutea in southwest Puerto Rico. Caribbean Journal of Science. In press.

Hammerman NM, Garcia-Hernandez JE (2016). The sponge Xestospongia muta offers shelter to the stony coral Madracis auretenra (Northwest Puerto Rico). Marine Biodiversity 47, 57-58. Doi: 10.1007/s12526-016-0574-2.

*denotes shared first authorship

On Going Projects

Weil E, Hammerman NM, Becicka RL, Cruz-Motta JJ (2019). Monitoring the recovery of Acropora cervicornis and A. prolifera in La Parguera natural reserve, southwest Puerto Rico.

Hammerman NM, Williams S, Veglia AJ, Schizas NV (2019). Possible new distribution of the cup coral, Cladopsammina manuelensis off the coast of Samańa, Dominican Republic.