Acanthaster, Coral reefs, Disturbance, Management, Population outbreaks, Research priorities
Research on the coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish (CoTS) has waxed and waned over the last few decades, mostly in response to population outbreaks at specific locations. This review considers advances in our understanding of the biology and ecology of CoTS based on the resurgence of research interest, which culminated in this current special issue on the Biology, Ecology and Management of Crown-of-Thorns Starfish. More specifically, this review considers progress in addressing 41 specific research questions posed in a seminal review by P. Moran 30 years ago, as well as exploring new directions for CoTS research. Despite the plethora of research on CoTS (>1200 research articles), there are persistent knowledge gaps that constrain effective management of outbreaks. Although directly addressing some of these questions will be extremely difficult, there have been considerable advances in understanding the biology of CoTS, if not the proximate and ultimate cause(s) of outbreaks. Moving forward, researchers need to embrace new technologies and opportunities to advance our understanding of CoTS biology and behavior, focusing on key questions that will improve effectiveness of management in reducing the frequency and likelihood of outbreaks, if not preventing them altogether.
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Morgan S. Pratchett, Clemon F. Caballes, Jennifer C. Wilmes, Samuel Matthews, Camille Mellin, Hugh P. A. Sweatman, Lauren E. Nadler, Jon Brodie, Cassandra A. Thompson, Jessica Hoey, Arthur R. Bos, Maria Byrne, Vanessa Messmer, Sofia A. V. Fortunato, Carla C. M. Chen, Alexandra C. E. Buck, Russell C. Babcock, and Sven Uthicke. 2017. Thirty Years of Research on Crown-of-Thorns Starfish (1986–2016): Scientific Advances and Emerging Opportunities .Diversity , (4) : 1 -49. https://nsuworks.nova.edu/occ_facarticles/1109.