Is predation of juvenile crown-of-thorns seastars (Acanthaster cf. solaris) by peppermint shrimp (Lysmata vittata) dependent on age, size, or diet?

Balu, Varsha, Messmer, Vanessa, Logan, Murray, Hayashida-Boyles, Alana L., and Uthicke, Sven (2021) Is predation of juvenile crown-of-thorns seastars (Acanthaster cf. solaris) by peppermint shrimp (Lysmata vittata) dependent on age, size, or diet? Coral Reefs, 40. pp. 641-649.

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Outbreaks of crown-of-thorns seastars (CoTS) are one of the leading causes of coral decline on Indo-Pacific coral reefs. Predator removal has been proposed to be a possible mechanism contributing to CoTS outbreaks in this region. Although some data exist on predation of adults, little work has been conducted on predators of juvenile CoTS. The aim of this study was therefore to establish whether predation of juvenile CoTS (1-9 months old after settlement) by peppermint shrimp (L. vittata) is affected by the age, size, or diet of juvenile CoTS. Through a set of ten predation experiments and statistical modeling, this study demonstrated that both age and size of juvenile CoTS are important factors affecting partial and lethal predation. Age was, however, found to be a better predictor of changes in probability (P) of lethal and partial predation (based on smaller AICc). Up to the age of similar to 4 months post-settlement, the probability of lethal predation over a span of 3 d of the experiment was nearly 1. Juvenile CoTS > 4 months old were rarely consumed entirely (P lethal predation = 0) yet showed increased partial predation (such as arm removal or damage to the center of the body) with probabilities increasing after 6 months post-settlement. A subset of CoTS over the age of 4 months was offered either coral or crustose coralline algae (CCA) as food to test for the effect of diet on predation. Diet did not significantly impact either partial or lethal predation. Thus, peppermint shrimp were identified as predators of juvenile CoTS up to an age of 4 months post-settlement, yet partial predation past this age still occurs, which may have consequences on population dynamics. The present study and future research on other juvenile predators fill important gaps in understanding CoTS population outbreaks.

Item ID: 66046
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0975
Keywords: Acanthaster spp, Predator removal hypothesis, Partial predation, Lethal predation, Peppermint shrimp, Population outbreaks
Copyright Information: © The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH, DE part of Springer Nature 2021
Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2021 07:31
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1802 Coastal and estuarine systems and management > 180204 Control of pests, diseases and exotic species in coastal and estuarine environments @ 100%
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