Climate change as an unexpected co-factor promoting coral eating seastar (Acanthaster planci) outbreaks

Uthicke, S., Logan, M., Liddy, M., Francis, D., Hardy, N. and Lamare, M. 2015, Climate change as an unexpected co-factor promoting coral eating seastar (Acanthaster planci) outbreaks, Scientific reports, vol. 5, Article Number : 8402, pp. 1-8, doi: 10.1038/srep08402.

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Title Climate change as an unexpected co-factor promoting coral eating seastar (Acanthaster planci) outbreaks
Author(s) Uthicke, S.
Logan, M.
Liddy, M.
Francis, D.ORCID iD for Francis, D.
Hardy, N.
Lamare, M.
Journal name Scientific reports
Volume number 5
Season Article Number : 8402
Start page 1
End page 8
Total pages 8
Publisher Nature Publishing Group
Place of publication London, Eng.
Publication date 2015
ISSN 2045-2322
Summary Coral reefs face a crisis due to local and global anthropogenic stressors. A large proportion of the ~50% coral loss on the Great Barrier Reef has been attributed to outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns-seastar (COTS). A widely assumed cause of primary COTS outbreaks is increased larval survivorship due to higher food availability, linked with anthropogenic runoff . Our experiment using a range of algal food concentrations at three temperatures representing present day average and predicted future increases, demonstrated a strong influence of food concentration on development is modulated by temperature. A 2°C increase in temperature led to a 4.2–4.9 times (at Day 10) or 1.2–1.8 times (Day 17) increase in late development larvae. A model indicated that food was the main driver, but that temperature was an important modulator of development. For instance, at 5000 cells ml−1 food, a 2°C increase may shorten developmental time by 30% and may increase the probability of survival by 240%. The main contribution of temperature is to ‘push’ well-fed larvae faster to settlement. We conclude that warmer sea temperature is an important co-factor promoting COTS outbreaks.
Language eng
DOI 10.1038/srep08402
Field of Research 050101 Ecological Impacts of Climate Change
Socio Economic Objective 960307 Effects of Climate Change and Variability on Australia (excl. Social Impacts)
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2015, Nature Publishing Group
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Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Life and Environmental Sciences
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