Thursday, February 2, 2012

Helping my friends at the Field Museum: Crown of Thorns Starfish Outbreaks-not so simple..

So, I had recent cause to have seen this very nice video about the Crown-of-Thorns video (Acanthaster planci). Which touches on some neat anthropological facts..

'Na Bula': Fiji's Crown of Thorns from The Field Museum on Vimeo.

But if I could comment on the reasons for the crown-of-thorns outbreaks?

There are not any published theories that claim that this animal's regenerative abilities was the cause of the huge population outbreak that this species is known for throughout the Indo-Pacific.

Outbreaks are huge "plague-level" spikes of the population of this species. Here's a nice short video that addresses the topic in general

Its a complicated phenomena, and a single reason may not be the cause, but one of the most recent papers by Jon Brodie suggests nutrient enrichment of larval settlement is a likely explanation.. Here is a blog I wrote for Ocean Portal about it.

Historically, several reasons have been offered and the idea regarding nutrient enrichment is the most recent-but NONE have ever speculated that regeneration was a cause.

But don't take my word for it..

I hope that my colleagues in Chicago take this in the best possible way. I love hearing about the cultural side of the animals I study and I stand happy to hear about future reports on their work!

1 comment:

Josh said...

Hey Chris

Thanks for providing this valuable information. I think when working in an educational institution it is absolutely critical that we get our facts correct. Science is an iterative process. We need to recognize that when data that better supports an alternative theory emerges, it is time to jettison the old hypothesis.

We'll be working with the media people at the museum to make sure that we correct our video to better reflect the actual biology of this fascinating species