An ultimate guide to dealing with Crown of Thorns outbreaks has just been released in open access format! The book “Biology, Ecology and Management of Crown-of-Thorns Starfish” expounds 30 years of COTS research, and compiles 18 different research papers and reviews, making it the most advanced and comprehensive collection of research to-date. Co-editors of the book Professor Morgan Pratchett of ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, and Dr Sven Uthicke of the Australian Institute of Marine Science are both experts on the Crown of Thorns field and they have contributed tremendously to the understanding of how and why outbreaks occur.
Photo Credit: ARC CoE for Coral Reef Studies/ Cassandra Thompson
“[Crown of Thorns] Outbreaks occur on many reefs throughout the Indo-Pacific, including the Great Barrier Reef, and contribute to the widespread degradation of these valuable ecosystems,” Prof Pratchett said. The Crown of Thorns can play an equalizing role on healthy reefs consuming faster growing corals like plating montiporas and staghorns, but outbreaks are devastating to reefs because of the voracious appetite they have; The Crown of Thorns has been know to consume up to 10 meters of coral and produce over 50 million eggs in a single year! Biologist, Geneticist and co-editor of the book, Dr Uthicke focussed his efforts on the development of a new genetic approach to understanding the early life cycle of the Crown of thorns. “There is still a lot we do not know about these starfish and effective management is conditional upon improved knowledge of their biology, especially during the very early life stages, when the starfish are extremely small and very cryptic. We must focus on key questions that will improve management effectiveness in reducing the frequency and likelihood of outbreaks, if not preventing them altogether,” Dr Uthicke said. Read the entire book in open access right here!