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Coral-eating sea star invaders turn out to be locals
Date:2/21/2012

outbreaks at distant sites. This research has proved that outbreaks are not some rogue population that expands and ravages across central Pacific reefs. Instead, the authors hypothesize that nutrient inputs and favorable climatic and ecological conditions likely fuel outbreaks of local populations.

This work is particularly important because most current management strategies are focused on stopping secondary spread rather than preventing human activities that can start an outbreak. This study is the first genetic survey of COT populations in which both outbreak and non-outbreak populations are surveyed across a broad region of the Pacific and the results are pretty clear that outbreaks are not jumping across large expanses of open ocean. Dr. Rob Toonen, one of the researchers involved in this project, explains "the genetic differences found among COT populations clearly indicate that outbreaks are not spreading from the Hawaiian Archipelago to elsewhere. Furthermore, the similarity between outbreak and non-outbreak COT populations within each archipelago indicates that outbreaks are a local phenomenon. Our recommendation to managers is to seriously consider the role that environmental conditions and local nutrient inputs play in driving COT outbreaks."


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Contact: Carlie Wiener
cwiener@hawaii.edu
808-628-8666
University of Hawaii ‑ SOEST
Source:Eurekalert

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