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Mar Pollut Bull. 2018 Oct;135:332-345. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2018.07.006. Epub 2018 Jul 18.

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

Author information

1
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia; Red Fish Blue Fish Marine, Cairns, QLD 4870, Australia.
2
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia; Ultra Coral Australia, Paget, QLD 4740, Australia.
3
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia; School of Marine Science and Policy, University of Delaware, Lewes, DE 19958, USA.
4
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia.
5
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia. Electronic address: morgan.pratchett@jcu.edu.au.

Abstract

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.

KEYWORDS:

Acanthaster; Coral loss; Coral reefs; Disturbance; Predation: Population demographics

PMID:
30301045
DOI:
10.1016/j.marpolbul.2018.07.006
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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