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 improve ability to control coral-killing outbreaks.  The goal was to make a difference.

COTS can turn areas of reef into white lifeless skeletons

COTS can turn areas of reef into white lifeless skeletons. Photo credit: Morgan Pratchett


Advances in COTS science and remaining gaps are detailed in Thirty Years of Research on Crown-of-Thorns Starfish (1986–2016),  a review undertaken by Professor Pratchett and other scientists.  Five of the contributors received funding from The Ian Potter Foundation Grant.   It was published in a special September 2017 edition of Diversity, titled Biology, Ecology and Management of COTS, along with other COTS research.  See also Science Daily.

We have made a difference.  Perhaps the most important discovery so far is that household vinegar is effective in removing COTS.  See Vinegar – controlling COTS at half the cost.  Further research shows sodium bisulphate, hyper-saline solutions, lime juice and powdered citric acid are also lethal to COTS and likely to be confirmed safe for the environment, with citric acid being the most promising of these alternatives.

Lisa Bostrom-Einarsson injecting COTS with household vinegar at Lizard Island. © Lisa Bostrom-Einarsson


The following peer-reviewed papers on  COTS were added to the collection at the Lizard Island Research Station in 2017, all based wholly or in part on local research











**  These papers are included in the special September 2017 edition of Diversity.