Reef-devouring predator survives coral bleaching and feasts on the survivors

October 20, 2023

Juvenile crown-of-thorns starfish, young (left), old (right). They fall behind only cyclones and bleaching events in their impact on coral mortality. New findings suggest the species’ resilience to warming waters could exacerbate the ravaging effect climate change has on coral reefs. The research is published in the journal Global Change Biology, led by Professor Maria Byrne from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences. Over the course of the experiment, juvenile crown-of-thorns displayed a surprisingly high heat tolerance, higher than that observed in their adult counterparts.

Juvenile crown-of-thorns starfish, young (left), old (right). [Credit: Monique Webb, Byrne et al.]

Crown-of-thorns starfish are native to the Great Barrier Reef and found in the Indo-Pacific region, but they are classified as a species of concern because the damage large populations cause to coral is more significant than any other species. They fall behind only cyclones and bleaching events in their impact on coral mortality.

New findings suggest the species’ resilience to warming waters could exacerbate the ravaging effect climate change has on coral reefs.

The research is published in the journal Global Change Biology, led by Professor Maria Byrne from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences. She is also a member of the Marine Science Institute and Sydney Environment Institute.

Over the course of the experiment, juvenile crown-of-thorns displayed a surprisingly high heat tolerance, higher than that observed in their adult counterparts. This means that, even if the coral-eating adult stage declines in climate change-driven ocean warming scenarios, perhaps from a lack of their coral prey or from the heat, their herbivorous young can wait patiently for the opportune moment to grow into carnivores. 

The source of this news is from University of Sydney

Popular in Research

1

Nov 26, 2023

Finger-shaped sensor enables more dexterous robots

2

6 days ago

Waiting for an eruption: what do we know about the Iceland volcano?

3

Nov 19, 2023

Three Sydney researchers win NSW Premier's Prizes for Science and Engineering

4

6 days ago

Green policies will maximise photovoltaic potential and minimise future energy costs

5

Nov 19, 2023

Downloading NASA's dark matter data from above the clouds

NYU Steinhardt’s Long-running Storytelling Series Returns Oct. 29 with a Halloween-themed program

1 day ago

US leadership 'holds the world together,' Biden says in bid for Ukraine, Israel funds

1 day ago

MIT releases financials and endowment figures for 2023

Nov 27, 2023

Will Congestion Pricing Fix NYC's Traffic Problem?

Nov 22, 2023

Institute Professor Daron Acemoglu Wins A.SK Social Science Award

15 hours ago

'Around the Table' Celebrates Community on the Eve of President Mills’s Historic Inauguration

1 day ago