Pink Decorator Crab is a Pure Born COTS Killer | Reef Builders


Scientists on the College of Queensland have recognized the Pink Decorator Crab, Schizophrys aspera, as essentially the most constant predator of Crown of Thorns Starfish, consuming them in 89% of trials. Crown of Thorns Starfish (COTS,) are one of many largest starfish on the planet, preying on coral tissue and decimating coral on the Nice Barrier Reef over the past 40 years.  

Ph.D. candidate Amelia Desbiens from the College of Queensland’s College of Organic Sciences set about discovering an animal that will prey on them, testing greater than 100 species of crabs, shrimps, worms, snails, and small fish. Of these, the Decorator crab got here out by far the most effective, devouring greater than 5 juvenile COTS per day, whereas different species within the trial barely ate one. She and her colleagues have revealed the analysis within the Journal Coral Reefs.

“The crimson decorator crab—or Schizophrys aspera—was by far essentially the most constant predator consuming COTS in 89% of the feeding trials,” Ms. Desbiens stated on “It’s among the best predators of COTS we’ve seen and may very well be a pure buffer towards future outbreaks on the reef.

“We additionally noticed 10 different species of crabs eat juvenile COTS pretty persistently, whereas different animals, together with the short-tailed latirus sea snail and the iridescent fireworm, had been much less enthusiastic eaters.”

The Crown of Thorns Starfish is an Aussie coral’s worst nightmare.

Venomous spines

Few predators efficiently prey on COTS when the starfish are grownup, as they’re protected by venomous spines. However they’re weak when juvenile, and conceal within the coral rubble. That is when predators such because the decorator crabs may very well be handiest, and it could additionally clarify why some areas of reefs aren’t attacked in such numbers by adults. COTS are prolific breeders so the researchers discovered the most effective time to attempt to management them was after they had been younger and defenseless. Knowing this has given them a chance of controlling them.  

Senior writer, Dr. Kenny Wolfe stated analysis into the function the crimson decorator crab performs in serving to to guard coral reefs would proceed.

“We’d prefer to conduct broader surveys on the Nice Barrier Reef throughout areas with and with out outbreaks to judge whether or not the presence of this crab will help predict the prospect of COTS gaining a foothold,” Dr. Wolfe stated.

“This preliminary research units us on the correct path to resolving the function naturally present predators may play in controlling COTS outbreaks.”

The Pink decorator crab is native to the tropical Indo-Pacific and Australia. It reaches a most measurement of 6cm and could be discovered at depths as much as 40 meters. Discover out extra concerning the paper right here. DOI: 10.1007/s00338-023-02364-w

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