Size-related variation in arm damage frequency in the crown-of-thorns sea star, Acanthaster planci

Rivera-Posada, Jairo, Caballes, Ciemon F., and Pratchett, Morgan S. (2014) Size-related variation in arm damage frequency in the crown-of-thorns sea star, Acanthaster planci. Journal of Coastal Life Medicine, 2 (3). pp. 187-195.

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Objective: To examine variation in the frequency of arm damage in different sizes of Acanthaster planci (A. planci), assess how this damage is inflicted by fish predators, and infer the potential role of predation in population regulation.

Methods: Diameters of A. planci collected from three sites in the Philippines were measured and arm damage frequency and severity was assessed. Frequency of arm damage was compared between sizes. Feeding behavior of fish predators was also observed in the laboratory.

Results: This study demonstrates that sublethal predation by triggerfishes on A. planci result in extensive arm damage. Overall, 60% of A. planci sampled across all sites had sublethal injuries. The frequency of individuals with missing or regenerating arms was highest in medium-sized young adults (11-20cm), which coincides with the phase where A.planci shift from cryptic to exposed daytime feeding.

Conclusions: The high incidence of arm damage within intermediate-sized sea stars indicates that predators exercise some level of regulation on A. planci populations at a local scale. Identification and protection of putative predators that target the most vulnerable life history stages of A.planci are essential in developing population control strategies and reverse sustained declines in coral cover.

Item ID: 32109
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2309-6152
Keywords: Acanthaster planci outbreaks, sublethal predation, arm damage, population regulation
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Funders: Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2014 03:29
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060203 Ecological Physiology @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050199 Ecological Applications not elsewhere classified @ 50%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9604 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species > 960407 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species in Marine Environments @ 50%
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