Abstract: Outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns sea star (COTS), Acanthaster planci, represent one of the most significant biological disturbances on coral reefs and remain one of the principal causes of widespread decline in live coral cover in the GBR. Control of COTS outbreaks may be the most immediate and effective mechanism by which to reverse sustained declines in the abundance of live coral cover, thereby maximizing opportunities for coral reef organisms to resist and adapt to sustained and ongoing threats from climate change and other more direct anthropogenic disturbances. However, previous control measures have been costly, largely ineffective, and often involved dangerous side effects. Attempts to control outbreaks, either by collecting adult individuals or injecting individuals with toxic chemicals, are ineffective at all but very localized scales, and control of COTS through manipulation of predators, parasites or pathogens has not been fully investigated. During my seminar I will talk about three different approaches that are being explored. The first approach is focused on the identification of natural predators and parasites of COTS. Observations of actual predation on A. planci are rare and there is little direct and quantitative data to assess the role of predators in limiting the population size of A. planci. The second approach is the erradication of A. planci through injections of proteins and osmoregulators that induced rapid disease and death and are less harmful to the marine environment when compared to other chemicals used. The third approach is a transmissible disease that can be induced under certain environmental conditions and the development of taxonomy studies for the identification of natural enemies as the first step in developing an effective control method.
Biography: Jairo completed his Bachelor of Veterinary Science (Hons) at the University of Caldas. After that he did 3 GradDip in Medical imaging (Radiology, Ultrasound, CT and MRI). He then obtained his first Doctorate in Veterinary Science with emphasis in Animal Surgery and Medicine at the University of Leon (Spain) awarding a Summa Cum Laude and patented his Bone graft. Jairo worked as a professor of animal surgery, radiology and internal medicine for seven years and then made a career shift and moved to Australia and completed a PhD in Marine Biology and Microbiology at James Cook University. The primary focus of his research is the Pathogenesis of crown-of-thorns (Acanthaster planci).