Horror, wonder and science of Crown-of-Thorns Starfish

Horror, wonder and science of Crown-of-Thorns Starfish

The Crown of Thorns Starfish (CoTS) invoke horror and wonder.  They also spur important science. Horror and wonder  CoTS (Acanthaster) are indigenous to the Great Barrier Reef.  They eat coral. In “normal” periods there are relatively few adult CoTS to be found and...
Larval cloning of the Crown of Thorns Starfish

Larval cloning of the Crown of Thorns Starfish

Recently-published research shows larval Crown of Thorns Starfish (CoTS) clone themselves.  A larval CoTS can split, resulting in TWO larval CoTS, each having the capacity to become a fully fertile adult.  It takes less than a second. One moment there is a single...
Crown-of-Thorns Starfish & eDNA

Crown-of-Thorns Starfish & eDNA

Field trials confirm that the presence and concentration of Crown of Thorns Starfish (CoTS) on any coral reef can be determined from environmental DNA (eDNA) extracted from a small sample of local seawater.  This is a very promising advance. Until now the only way to...
Closing COTS knowledge gaps

Closing COTS knowledge gaps

Professor Morgan Pratchett is a leading researcher on the Crown of Thorns Starfish (COTS).  In our 2014 LIRRF donor update he outlined knowledge gaps relating to COTS.  That year we received a $500,000 Commemorative Grant from The Ian Potter Foundation for research to...

How baby Crown-of-Thorns Starfish survive

I have been researching mechanisms employed by Crown-Of-Thorns Starfish Acanthaster planci (COTS) during their early life stages to reduce their chances of being eaten by predators, and predation rates during these stages.   COTS is one of the most destructive...

Life stages of Crown-of-Thorns Starfish

(updated 8 May 2020) The life of a Crown of-Thorns Starfish Acanthaster cf. solaris (CoTS) progresses through five main stages: 1. Egg > blastula > gastrula A single large female CoTS can produce 100 million eggs over a spawning season.  This occurs during the...