Hei Sung

Lecturer in Wildlife, Ecology & Conservation Science

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School of Allied Health Sciences
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Hei is a lecturer in wildlife and conservation at the School of Allied Health Sciences, joining in August 2023. Previously, he served as an Assistant Professor at Lingnan University in Hong Kong. He holds a PhD from the University of Hong Kong. As a conservation biologist, his research goal is to conserve wild animals by quantifying the impacts of human activities on endangered species and formulating practical conservation measures. Hei teaches courses in the BSc (Hons) Wildlife, Ecology, and Conservation Science Programme.

In his leisure time, he has a passion for sports, particularly basketball and football. He also enjoys watching and photographing wildlife, as well as listening to and making music.

Hei's research interests primarily focus on the conservation and ecology of wild animals, with a specific emphasis on amphibians, birds, and reptiles in Southeast Asia. Here are some selected research projects that he is leading:

Ecology and conservation of Asian freshwater turtles: This project aims to address the severe decline of Asian turtle populations, largely driven by the food and pet markets. Field surveys have been conducted to assess the current status of endangered freshwater turtles in Hong Kong. Ecological data, including habitat use, diet, reproductive biology, and disease ecology, have been collected to inform conservation actions. Additionally, efforts are being made to enhance in-situ enforcement against illegal hunting, such as utilizing cameras to detect and deter illegal turtle hunters.

Illegal trade of amphibians and reptiles: Many amphibians and reptiles face threats from illegal wildlife trade. To combat this issue, long-term wildlife trade data is being collected from Hong Kong, a prominent global wildlife trade hub. The research aims to understand the scale, trends, and underlying factors of the trade. Further, Hei's research team is developing wildlife forensic tools to differentiate between wild and captive turtles, thereby reinforcing turtle trade enforcement.

Responses of birds to environmental change: In collaboration with the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society, Hei is investigating the impacts of various environmental changes, including climatic change and land-use changes, on bird populations in South China. This research aims to understand how birds are affected by these changes and will provide valuable insights for effective conservation measures and habitat management practices.

Taxonomy of herpetofauna in South China: Hei's research team is employing morphological, genetic, and acoustic analysis to uncover the often overlooked diversity of herpetofauna (amphibians and reptiles) in South China. By resolving the taxonomy of these species, crucial information will be obtained for their effective conservation, particularly for those with limited distributions.

Selected Publications:

Ecology and conservation of Asian freshwater turtles
Sung YH, Liew JH, Chan HK, Lee WH, Wong BHF, Dingle C, Karraker NE, Spencer R & Fong JJ. 2021. Assessing the diet of the endangered Beale’s eyed turtle (Sacalia bealei) using faecal content and stable isotope analyses: implications for conservation. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems.

Sung YH, Karraker NE & Hau BCH. 2013. Demographic evidence of illegal harvesting of an endangered Asian turtle. Conservation Biology. 27:1421–1428.

Illegal trade of amphibians and reptiles
Sung YH, Lee WH, Leung FKW & Fong JJ. 2021. Prevalence of illegal turtle trade on social media and implications for wildlife trade monitoring. Biological Conservation 261:109245.

Sung YH & Fong JJ. 2018. Assessing consumer trends and illegal activity by monitoring the online wildlife trade. Biological Conservation 227:219-225.

Responses of birds to environmental change
Sung YH, Pang CC, Li TCH, Wong PPY & Yu YT. 2021. Ecological correlates of 20-year population trends of wintering waterbirds in Deep Bay, South China. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 9:658084.

Sung YH, Tse IWL & Yu YT. 2018. Population trends of the black-faced spoonbill Platalea minor: analysis of data from international synchronized censuses. Bird Conservation International 28:157–167.

Taxonomy of herpetofauna in south China
Sung YH, Lee WH, Ng HN, Zhang Y & Yang JH. 2018. A new species of Hemiphyllodactylus (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from Hong Kong. Zootaxa 4392:361–373.

Sung YH, Hu P, Wang J, Liu HJ & Wang YY. 2016. A new species of Amolops (Anura: Ranidae) from southern China. Zootaxa. 4170:525–538.

He is a member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles Specialist Group. Additionally, he serves as an associate editor for the journals Aquatic Invasions, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, BioInvasions Records, and Herpetological Conservation and Biology.