People and ecosystems

Understanding of the links between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the wellbeing of human societies.


Ecosystem dynamics: past, present and future

Examining the multi-scale dynamics of reefs, from population dynamics to macroevolution


Responding to a changing world

Advancing the fundamental understanding of the key processes underpinning reef resilience.

Coral Bleaching

Coral Bleaching

Coral Reef Studies

From 2005 to 2022, the main node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies was headquartered at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland (Australia)

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How do coral reef fishes develop into athletes?


Wednesday, September 27th, 11:00 to 12:00 hrs

Building 19, Room 106, JCU Townsville Campus
Adam Downie
Adam Downie

Abstract. Animal ‘athletes’ represent species that function at a higher capacity than average performing species, for any given metric of performance (e.g. sprint speeds or endurance swimming). Tropical reef fishes offer a unique perspective on athleticism, as their larvae are capable of fast swimming relative to their size (> 20 body lengths/sec), especially when compared to the larvae of most other fish species. So far much of the current research on the exercise physiology of larval reef fishes has focused on determining the swimming speeds required for dispersal, and the sensory systems that help the larvae detect the reefs. However, for most reef fish species it is still largely unknown how their extraordinary swimming performance is physiologically and anatomically supported. Therefore, my research will investigate the development of swimming performance of reef fishes, to better understand the energetic demands (e.g. oxygen uptake) that support swimming and the development of muscles and fins that directly power performance. These metrics of performance that have not been previously measured in reef fish larvae will be key in predicting dispersal patterns of larval reef fishes and provide a baseline for understanding the effects of current and future environmental and anthropogenic stressors.

Biography. Adam is originally from Canada and completed his BSc from the University of New Brunswick in 2015. His honors thesis was supervised by Dr. Jim Kieffer and investigated the salinity tolerance of juvenile sturgeons. He continued to work with sturgeons after his BSc as Dr. Kieffer’s lab technician, investigating exercise physiology of juvenile sturgeons, specifically substrate preference and improving swimming methods for conservation purposes. Adam joined Dr. Rummer’s lab as an intern in 2016, and began a PhD in 2017, investigating the development of swimming performance of reef fishes. He is supervised by Dr. Jodie Rummer, Prof. Mark McCormick and Dr. Peter Cowman.


Australian Research Council Pandora

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