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Open AccessArticle

The Effects of Salinity and pH on Fertilization, Early Development, and Hatching in the Crown-of-Thorns Seastar

1
College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA 23187, USA
2
School of Medical and Biological Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
3
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Sven Uthicke and Michael Wink
Diversity 2017, 9(1), 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/d9010013
Received: 2 December 2016 / Revised: 4 February 2017 / Accepted: 10 February 2017 / Published: 22 February 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology, Ecology and Management of Crown-of-Thorns Starfish)
Understanding the influence of environmental factors on the development and dispersal of crown-of-thorns seastars is critical to predicting when and where outbreaks of these coral-eating seastars will occur. Outbreaks of crown-of-thorns seastars are hypothesized to be driven by terrestrial runoff events that increase nutrients and the phytoplankton food for the larvae. In addition to increasing larval food supply, terrestrial runoff may also reduce salinity in the waters where seastars develop. We investigated the effects of reduced salinity on the fertilization and early development of seastars. We also tested the interactive effects of reduced salinity and reduced pH on the hatching of crown-of-thorns seastars. Overall, we found that reduced salinity has strong negative effects on fertilization and early development, as shown in other echinoderm species. We also found that reduced salinity delays hatching, but that reduced pH, in isolation or in combination with lower salinity, had no detectable effects on this developmental milestone. Models that assess the positive effects of terrestrial runoff on the development of crown-of-thorns seastars should also consider the strong negative effects of lower salinity on early development including lower levels of fertilization, increased frequency of abnormal development, and delayed time to hatching. View Full-Text
Keywords: fertilization; embryonic development; salinity; pH; hatching; crown-of-thorns seastar; Acanthaster fertilization; embryonic development; salinity; pH; hatching; crown-of-thorns seastar; Acanthaster
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Allen, J.D.; Schrage, K.R.; Foo, S.A.; Watson, S.-A.; Byrne, M. The Effects of Salinity and pH on Fertilization, Early Development, and Hatching in the Crown-of-Thorns Seastar. Diversity 2017, 9, 13.

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