Tracking origins and spread of Crown-of-Thorns Seastars on the GBR (2019–2022)
Coral eating Crown-of-Thorns Seastars (CoTS) pose a significant threat to the Great Barrier Reef. This proposal aims to uncover the source reefs for CoTS outbreaks and the main routes of spread through the GBR. Using innovative approaches from population genomics, invasive species genetics, and epidemiology and drawing upon extensive collections of adults and larvae dating from the 1980's onwards, the proposal intends to test prominent hypotheses about outbreak origins and subsequent spatial spread of CoTS via larval dispersal. The intended outcomes are to clarify the locations and timing of long distance dispersal pathways and to test whether larval detection near reefs can provide an early warning for local outbreaks on these same reefs.