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Diversity 2017, 9(4), 41; doi:10.3390/d9040041

Thirty Years of Research on Crown-of-Thorns Starfish (1986–2016): Scientific Advances and Emerging Opportunities

1
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia
2
Australian Institute of Marine Science, PMB No. 3, Townsville, QLD 4810, Australia
3
The Environment Institute and School of Biological Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia
4
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA
5
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Townsville, QLD 4810, Australia
6
American University in Cairo, AUC Avenue, New Cairo 11835, Egypt
7
School of Medical Science and School of Life Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
8
CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, GPO Box 2583, Brisbane, QLD 4001, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 August 2017 / Revised: 14 September 2017 / Accepted: 14 September 2017 / Published: 21 September 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology, Ecology and Management of Crown-of-Thorns Starfish)
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Abstract

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. View Full-Text
Keywords: Acanthaster; coral reefs; disturbance; management; population outbreaks; research priorities Acanthaster; coral reefs; disturbance; management; population outbreaks; research priorities
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MDPI and ACS Style

Pratchett, M.S.; Caballes, C.F.; Wilmes, J.C.; Matthews, S.; Mellin, C.; Sweatman, H.P.A.; Nadler, L.E.; Brodie, J.; Thompson, C.A.; Hoey, J.; Bos, A.R.; Byrne, M.; Messmer, V.; Fortunato, S.A.V.; Chen, C.C.M.; Buck, A.C.E.; Babcock, R.C.; Uthicke, S. Thirty Years of Research on Crown-of-Thorns Starfish (1986–2016): Scientific Advances and Emerging Opportunities. Diversity 2017, 9, 41.

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