Main image: Australian Institute of Marine Science
Earlier in the year we were approached by research scientist Bethan Lang at the James Cook University in Queensland Australia. She wanted to know if we would help provide financial support for her research into the Crown of Thorns Starfish (CoTS) on the Great Barrier Reef. These coral eating animals have had a detrimental impact on the reefs and controlling them has been a major problem facing conservationists.
Bethan’s aim in this research project is to determine the thermal preference of CoTS in order to establish whether CoTS have the ability to move to a more thermally preferable environment, and to determine their temperature preference. What’s the point you might ask? Well in a nutshell, if we have more knowledge about the preferred environmental temperature of CoTS as well as their ability to seek out more thermally preferable environments, it will aid model predictions of the distribution and density of CoTS populations under further climate change. This will enable the scientists to inform CoTS managers of which parts of the reef that may be more or less threatened by this starfish in the future, and thus facilitate the direction of management efforts.
We thought this was a really good project that can potentially have a real impact on protecting the coral reef for future generations and we were very pleased to provide some support. We will be developing a research web page for Bethan in due course and look forward to letting you know what she finds out.