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Diversity 2017, 9(1), 17; doi:10.3390/d9010017

Potential Enhanced Survivorship of Crown of Thorns Starfish Larvae due to Near-Annual Nutrient Enrichment during Secondary Outbreaks on the Central Mid-Shelf of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

1
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia
2
Coasts, Climate, Oceans Consulting (C2O), Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia
3
The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), Lowestoft NR33 0HT, UK
4
TropWATER, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Sven Uthicke and Michael Wink
Received: 7 December 2016 / Revised: 6 March 2017 / Accepted: 7 March 2017 / Published: 12 March 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology, Ecology and Management of Crown-of-Thorns Starfish)
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Abstract

The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is currently experiencing widespread crown of thorns starfish (CoTS) outbreaks, as part of the fourth wave of outbreaks since 1962. It is believed that these outbreaks have become more frequent on the GBR and elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific and are associated with anthropogenic causes. The two widely accepted potential causes are (1) anthropogenic nutrient enrichment leading to the increased biomass of phytoplankton, the food of the planktonic stage of larval CoTS; and (2) the overfishing of predators in the juvenile to adult stages of CoTS, for example, commercially fished species such as coral trout. In this study, we show that the evidence for the nutrient enrichment causation hypothesis is strongly based on a large number of recent studies in the GBR. We also hypothesise that secondary outbreaks in the region between Cairns and Townsville can also be enhanced by nutrient enriched conditions associated with the annual nutrient discharge from Wet Tropics rivers. View Full-Text
Keywords: crown of thorns starfish; Great Barrier Reef; nutrient enrichment; larval survivorship crown of thorns starfish; Great Barrier Reef; nutrient enrichment; larval survivorship
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Brodie, J.; Devlin, M.; Lewis, S. Potential Enhanced Survivorship of Crown of Thorns Starfish Larvae due to Near-Annual Nutrient Enrichment during Secondary Outbreaks on the Central Mid-Shelf of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Diversity 2017, 9, 17.

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