Originally from Victoria, Mia studied in Canberra and Indonesia before moving to Townsville to complete her PhD at James Cook University in 2008. In recent years Mia has undertaken research fellowships at the Centre Scientifique de Monaco and at the University of Glasgow before returning to the Centre of Excellence in January 2011. Mia’s research focuses on understanding the causes of intra- and inter-specific variation in the energy budgets of corals and fishes, and the consequences of such variation for the ecology of populations and communities.
Metabolism is the ‘fire of life’ and rates of energy use influence individual growth and reproduction. In this seminar I present data from experimental studies on temperate corals and freshwater fish that quantify the causes and consequences of individual differences in metabolic rate. For temperate corals, the balance of energy acquisition from photosynthesis versus heterotrophic feeding controls energy allocation between tissue growth and calcification. That is, environmental conditions control whether corals decide to grow tissue or skeleton. For freshwater fishes, differences in hormone content of eggs affect competitive ability of offspring. Competitive ability is programmed by metabolic rates of individuals, but the consequences of differences in metabolism depend on food availability and predictability. These studies show that small differences in physiology can have large consequences for individual performance.