Poor water quality significantly affects coral reef ecosystem function by causing shifts in species composition and size structures, and negatively impacting the feeding, growth and development of benthic and fish assemblages. Despite our growing understanding of the effects of poor water quality on coral reefs, much of what we know is attributed to its impacts on benthic assemblages with limited understanding on how declining water quality affects the demography and trophic ecology of reef fishes. The study, based in American Samoa, will investigate the impact of declining water quality on recruitment, growth, development and trophodynamics of herbivorous parrotfishes and surgeonfishes. The focus on demography and trophodynamics is relevant in the context of management because parrotfishes and surgeonfishes are presently becoming the dominant components of reef fisheries in parts of its extensive geographic range. Trophodynamics enables useful predictions of how ecosystem processes are altered under disturbances, and together with demographic studies, can improve our understanding of parrotfishes and surgeonfishes’ population dynamics.
Mia grew up in Cebu City, Philippines, where she completed her BSc in Marine Biology at the University of San Carlos. After a few years working for NGOs and universities surveying reefs and looking at effectiveness of MPAs around the central Philippines, she moved to Virginia, USA to complete her Masters at Old Dominion University. While stationed in Virginia, Mia worked extensively with the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species to publish marine species and maps on the Red List website. In 2014, Mia moved to American Samoa to work as Research Scientist for the AS Environmental Protection Agency. During her time in the South Pacific, she worked on an island-wide assessment of the impacts of water quality on coral reef condition. Mia is now studying under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Hoey, Prof. Howard Choat and Prof. Garry Russ.