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Marine Biology

, Volume 161, Issue 11, pp 2521–2530 | Cite as

Spatial and temporal population dynamics of the crown-of-thorns starfish, Acanthaster planci, over a 24-year period along the central west coast of Okinawa Island, Japan

  • Masako NakamuraEmail author
  • Ken Okaji
  • Yoshimi Higa
  • Eiji Yamakawa
  • Satoshi Mitarai
Original Paper

Abstract

Boom and bust dynamics are a prominent characteristic of the crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) populations. Outbreaking starfish populations damage coral communities extensively and then often disappear quickly. In contrast, Onna village, on the central west coast of Okinawa Island, Japan, has been experiencing chronically high population densities of A. planci for decades. In this study, we examined spatial and temporal population dynamics of A. planci along the coast of Onna village, using removal data gathered over 24 years by a local fisheries cooperative. The results demonstrate that A. planci populations along the Onna coast often experienced high densities prior to 2003 and that recently, populations have again been increasing drastically. Size-frequency distributions suggest multiple, successive recruitment, as one of the driving factors maintaining A. planci populations in this location. Moreover, within the Onna area, the timing of outbreak peaks varied among different locations, showing a northward progression.

Keywords

Great Barrier Reef Coral Coverage Coral Community Successive Recruitment Okinawa Prefecture 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are very grateful to the members of Onna village fisheries cooperative. Our primary study with GPS drifters was supported by the Okinawa Prefectural Government. We thank OIST’s technical editor, Dr. Steven D. Aird for assistance with writing this manuscript.

Supplementary material

227_2014_2524_MOESM1_ESM.eps (1.9 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (EPS 1,985 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Masako Nakamura
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ken Okaji
    • 2
  • Yoshimi Higa
    • 3
  • Eiji Yamakawa
    • 4
  • Satoshi Mitarai
    • 1
  1. 1.Marine Biophysics UnitOkinawa Institute of Science and TechnologyOnnaJapan
  2. 2.Coralquest Inc.AtsugiJapan
  3. 3.Onna Village Fisheries CooperativeOnnaJapan
  4. 4.Okinawa Environment Science CenterUrasoeJapan

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