Induction of larval settlement in crown-of-thorns starfish is not mediated by conspecific cues

Doll, Peter C., Uthicke, Sven, Caballes, Ciemon F., Patel, Frances, Gomez Cabrera, Maria del C., Lang, Bethan J., and Pratchett, Morgan S. (2023) Induction of larval settlement in crown-of-thorns starfish is not mediated by conspecific cues. Scientific Reports, 13. 17119.

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Population irruptions of crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS; Acanthaster spp.) remain a major cause of coral reef degradation throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans and are inherently modulated by larval settlement and recruitment success. Gregarious larval settlement, as exhibited by many other ecologically important marine invertebrates, can catalyse population growth and replenishment. However, whether conspecific cues induce or influence the settlement of COTS larvae remains a critical information gap. This experimental study examined the induction of COTS settlement in response to a range of conspecific cues associated with early- and late-stage herbivorous juveniles, corallivorous juveniles and adults. Competent COTS larvae were generally not induced to settle by the presence of conspecifics or cues associated with conspecifics, while the settlement success of COTS in the presence of coralline algae was not inhibited or enhanced by adding conspecific conditioned seawater. Rather than being reinforced by gregarious settlement, the recruitment of COTS populations appears dependent on associative settlement cues (i.e., coralline algae and/or associated microbial communities) signalling suitable benthic habitat.

Item ID: 80697
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2045-2322
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Copyright Information: Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Funders: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
Research Data:
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2023 00:14
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 80%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310301 Behavioural ecology @ 20%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280102 Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences @ 80%
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180599 Marine systems and management not elsewhere classified @ 20%
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