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Diversity 2016, 8(2), 9; doi:10.3390/d8020009

Detection of a High-Density Brachiolaria-Stage Larval Population of Crown-of-Thorns Sea Star (Acanthaster planci) in Sekisei Lagoon (Okinawa, Japan)

1
Research Center for Subtropical Fisheries, Seikai National Fisheries Research Institute, Ishigaki 9070451, Japan
2
Organization for Promotion of Tenure Track, Miyazaki University, Miyazaki 8892192, Japan
3
Department of Marine Biology and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture, Miyazaki University, Miyazaki 8892192, Japan
4
Idea Consultants, Inc., Okinawa 900-0003, Japan
5
Research Center for Aquatic Genomics, National Research Institute of Fisheries Science, Kanazawa-ku 236-8648, Japan
6
School of Environment and Society, Department of Transdisciplinary Science and Engineering, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Meguro-ku 1528550, Japan
7
Graduate School of Information Science and Engineering, Department of Mechanical and Environmental Informatics, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Meguro-ku 1528550, Japan
8
Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Meguro-ku 1528550, Japan
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Zoe Richards
Received: 24 January 2016 / Revised: 25 March 2016 / Accepted: 28 March 2016 / Published: 31 March 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coral Reef Biodiversity and Conservation)
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Abstract

Outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns sea star (Acanthaster planci) are likely to be strongly associated with drastic changes in larval survival influenced by food availability. However, no quantitative or qualitative data are available on the distribution of A. planci larvae in the field nor on the environmental factors that influence their survivorship. Here we use a DNA barcoding approach to describe the distribution of A. planci larvae in Sekisei Lagoon, Ryukyu Archipelago, Japan after conducting three days of high-intensity sampling. High densities (53.3 individuals/m3) of A. planci larvae were found outside of Yonara Channel, which is the largest reef channel in this lagoon. Surprisingly, most (94%) of the aggregated larvae were advanced-stage brachiolaria. Considering that it takes several days to develop to this stage, this result demonstrates that A. planci larvae were floating for some time and maintaining a high-density population. However, this dense larval cloud disappeared immediately after a typhoon. No spatial correlation was found between larval density and either nutrient or chlorophyll a concentrations, suggesting that A. planci larvae do not necessarily aggregate in nutrient-rich water. These data suggest that some high-density populations of late developmental stage A. planci larvae were produced under a low phytoplankton concentration and could potentially trigger an adult outbreak. Consequently, our data suggest that adult outbreaks may not necessarily be triggered by food availability alone. View Full-Text
Keywords: larval dispersal; plankton towing; DNA barcoding; mitochondrial DNA; sea star; population outbreak larval dispersal; plankton towing; DNA barcoding; mitochondrial DNA; sea star; population outbreak
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MDPI and ACS Style

Suzuki, G.; Yasuda, N.; Ikehara, K.; Fukuoka, K.; Kameda, T.; Kai, S.; Nagai, S.; Watanabe, A.; Nakamura, T.; Kitazawa, S.; Bernardo, L.P.C.; Natori, T.; Kojima, M.; Nadaoka, K. Detection of a High-Density Brachiolaria-Stage Larval Population of Crown-of-Thorns Sea Star (Acanthaster planci) in Sekisei Lagoon (Okinawa, Japan). Diversity 2016, 8, 9.

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