A threat to coral reefs multiplied? Four species of crown-of-thorns starfish
- In the face of ever-increasing threats to coral reef ecosystems, it is essential to understand the impact of natural predators in order to devise appropriate management strategies. Destructive population explosions of the crown-of-thorns starfish Acanthaster planci have devastated coral reefs throughout the Indo-Pacific for decades. But despite extensive research, the causes of outbreaks are still unclear. An important consideration in this research is that A. planci has been regarded as a single taxonomic entity. Using molecular data from its entire distribution, we find that A. planci is in fact a species complex. This discovery has important consequences for future coral reef research, and might prove critical for successful reef conservation management.
- Vogler C , Benzie J , Lessios H , Barber P , Worheide G .
- Asteroidea(starfish), species complex, sibling species, Acanthaster planci, crown-of-thorns starfish