Contributions of pre- versus post-settlement processes to fluctuating abundance of crown-of-thorns starfishes ( Acanthaster spp.)

Wilmes, Jennifer C., Caballes, Ciemon F., Cowan, Zara-Louise, Hoey, Andrew S., Lang, Bethan, Messmer, Vanessa, and Pratchett, Morgan S. (2018) Contributions of pre- versus post-settlement processes to fluctuating abundance of crown-of-thorns starfishes ( Acanthaster spp.). Marine Pollution Bulletin, 135. pp. 332-345.

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Numerous hypotheses have been put forward to account for population outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfishes (CoTS, Acanthaster spp.), which place specific importance on either pre- or post-settlement mechanisms. The purpose of this review is to specifically assess the contributions of pre- versus post-settlement processes in the population dynamics of CoTS. Given the immense reproductive potential of CoTS (>100 million eggs per female), persistent high densities would appear inevitable unless there were significant constraints on larval development, settlement success, and/or early post-settlement growth and survival. In terms of population constraints, pre- and post-settlement processes are both important and have additive effects to suppress densities of juvenile and adult CoTS within reef ecosystems. It is difficult, however, to assess the relative contributions of pre- versus post-settlement processes to population outbreaks, especially given limited data on settlement rates, as well as early post-settlement growth and mortality. Prioritising this research is important to resolve potential effects of anthropogenic activities (e.g., fishing) and habitat degradation on changing population dynamics of CoTS, and will also improve management effectiveness.

Item ID: 55238
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1879-3363
Keywords: Acanthaster, coral reefs, coral loss, disturbance, predation: population demographics
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A version of this publication was included as Chapter 1 of the following PhD thesis: Wilmes, Jennifer Christina (2020) Spatial and temporal variation in the demography of early-stage juvenile Pacific crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster cf. solaris) from Australia's Great Barrier Reef. PhD thesis, James Cook University, which is available Open Access in ResearchOnline@JCU. Please see the Related URLs for access.

Date Deposited: 28 Aug 2018 02:02
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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