Friday April 7, 2023


University of Queensland scientists have identified natural predators which could help fight outbreaks of the coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) on the Great Barrier Reef.

Ph.D. candidate Amelia Desbiens from UQ’s School of Biological Sciences tested more than 100 species of crabs, shrimps, worms, snails, and small fishes and found one species was a standout at eating juvenile COTS. The research is published in Coral Reefs.

“The red decorator crab—or Schizophrys aspera—was by far the most consistent predator consuming COTS in 89% of the feeding trials,” Ms. Desbiens said.

“We were surprised by its voracity—each red decorator crab devoured more than five COTS per day while most other species barely ate a single one.

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