Coral Reefs, the Journal of the International Society for Reef Studies, presents multidisciplinary literature across the broad fields of reef studies, publishing analytical and theoretical papers on both modern and ancient reefs. These encourage the search for theories about reef structure and dynamics, and the use of experimentation, modeling, quantification and the applied sciences. Coverage includes such subject areas as population dynamics; community ecology of reef organisms; energy and nutrient flows; biogeochemical cycles; physiology of calcification; reef responses to natural and anthropogenic influences; stress markers in reef organisms; behavioural ecology; sedimentology; diagenesis; reef structure and morphology; evolutionary ecology of the reef biota; palaeoceanography of coral reefs and coral islands; reef management and its underlying disciplines; molecular biology and genetics of coral; aetiology of disease in reef-related organisms; reef responses to global change, and more. Best Paper Award Coral Reefs Vol 29 (2010) Editors and Editorial Board voted the publication 'Three lines of evidence to link outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns seastar Acanthaster planci to the release of larval food limitation' by K. E. Fabricius, K. Okaji and G. De'ath as Best Paper for Coral Reefs Vol 29 (2010). The authors use laboratory studies, field data and modeling to show that phytoplankton availability and outbreaks of the coral predator Acanthaster planci are strongly related. They conclude that phytoplankton availability has great consequences for the frequency of Acanthaster outbreaks over time and that the living coral cover of the Australian Great Barrier Reef is only 30-40% of its potential value. The Award consists of EUR 1.000 and an engraved glass paperweight for the first author. In addition there will be printed Certificates send to all authors. Abstract: Population outbreaks of the coral-eating crown-of-thorns seastar, Acanthaster planci, continue to kill more coral on Indo-Pacific coral reefs than other disturbances, but the causes of these outbreaks have not been resolved. In this study, we combine (1) results from laboratory experiments where larvae were reared on natural phytoplankton, (2) large-scale and long-term field data of river floods, chlorophyll concentrations and A. planci outbreaks on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), and (3) results from A. planci coral population model simulations that investigated the relationship between the frequency of outbreaks and larval food availability. The experiments show that the odds of A. planci larvae completing development increases ~8-fold with every doubling of chlorophyll concentrations up to 3 µg l-1. Field data and the population model show that river floods and regional differences in phytoplankton availability are strongly related to spatial and temporal patterns in A. planci outbreaks on the GBR. The model also shows that, given plausible historic increases in river nutrient loads over the last 200 years, the frequency of A. planci outbreaks on the GBR has likely increased from one in 50-80 years to one every 15 years, and that current coral cover of reefs in the central GBR may be 30-40% of its potential value. This study adds new and strong empirical support to the hypothesis that primary A. planci outbreaks are predominantly controlled by phytoplankton availability.
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