Variation in incidence and severity of injuries among crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster cf. solaris) on Australia's Great Barrier Reef

Messmer, Vanessa, Pratchett, Morgan, and Chong-Seng, Karen (2017) Variation in incidence and severity of injuries among crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster cf. solaris) on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Diversity, 9 (1).

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Abstract

Despite the presence of numerous sharp poisonous spines, adult crown-of-thorns starfish (CoTS) are vulnerable to predation, though the importance and rates of predation are generally unknown. This study explores variation in the incidence and severity of injuries for Acanthaster cf. solaris from Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The major cause of such injuries is presumed to be sub-lethal predation such that the incidence of injuries may provide a proxy for overall predation and mortality rates. A total of 3846 Acanthaster cf. solaris were sampled across 19 reefs, of which 1955 (50.83%) were injured. Both the incidence and severity of injuries decreased with increasing body size. For small CoTS (<125 mm total diameter) >60% of individuals had injuries, and a mean 20.7% of arms (±2.9 SE) were affected. By comparison, <30% of large (>450 mm total diameter) CoTS had injuries, and, among those, only 8.3% of arms (±1.7 SE) were injured. The incidence of injuries varied greatly among reefs but was unaffected by the regulations of local fisheries.

Item ID: 53950
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1424-2818
Keywords: arm damage, body size, predator removal hypothesis, sub-lethal predation
Additional Information:

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Funders: Commonwealth Government of Australia, Australian Museum Lizard Island Research Station (AMLIRS), Ian Potter Foundation (IPF)
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2018 06:34
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9604 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species > 960407 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species in Marine Environments @ 20%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 20%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 60%
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