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Open AccessArticle

Selective Feeding and Microalgal Consumption Rates by Crown-Of-Thorns Seastar (Acanthaster cf. solaris) Larvae

Australian Institute of Marine Science PMB No 3, Townsville, QLD 4810, Australia
The Environment Institute and School of Biological Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia
AgroParisTech, Paris 75005, France
Coralquest Inc., 1-34-10 Asahicho, Atsugi 2430014, Japan
Deakin University, Geelong, Australia, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Warrnambool Campus, Princes Hwy, Sherwood Park, PO Box 423, Warrnambool, VIC 3280, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Morgan Pratchett and Michael Wink
Diversity 2017, 9(1), 8;
Received: 24 November 2016 / Revised: 25 January 2017 / Accepted: 30 January 2017 / Published: 7 February 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology, Ecology and Management of Crown-of-Thorns Starfish)
Outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns seastar (CoTS) represent a major cause of coral loss on the Great Barrier Reef. Outbreaks can be explained by enhanced larval survival supported by higher phytoplankton availability after flood events, yet little is known about CoTS larvae feeding behaviour, in particular their potential for selective feeding. Here, single- and mixed-species feeding experiment were conducted on CoTS larvae using five algae (Phaeodactylum tricornutum, Pavlova lutheri, Tisochrysis lutea, Dunaliella sp. and Chaetoceros sp.) and two algal concentrations (1000 and 2500 algae·mL−1). Cell counts using flow-cytometry at the beginning and end of each incubation experiment allowed us to calculate the filtration and ingestion rates of each species by CoTS larvae. In line with previous studies, CoTS larvae ingested more algae when the initial algal concentration was higher. We found evidence for the selective ingestion of some species (Chaetoceros sp., Dunaliella sp.) over others (P. lutheri, P. tricornutum). The preferred algal species had the highest energy content, suggesting that CoTS selectively ingested the most energetic algae. Ultimately, combining these results with spatio-temporal patterns in phytoplankton communities will help elucidate the role of larval feeding behaviour in determining the frequency and magnitude of CoTS outbreaks. View Full-Text
Keywords: electivity; feeding behaviour; filtration rate; Great Barrier Reef; phytoplankton electivity; feeding behaviour; filtration rate; Great Barrier Reef; phytoplankton
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Mellin, C.; Lugrin, C.; Okaji, K.; Francis, D.S.; Uthicke, S. Selective Feeding and Microalgal Consumption Rates by Crown-Of-Thorns Seastar (Acanthaster cf. solaris) Larvae. Diversity 2017, 9, 8.

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