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Interactions between Acanthaster planci (Echinodermata, Asteroidea) and Scleractinian Corals at Kona, Hawai'i

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Title:Interactions between Acanthaster planci (Echinodermata, Asteroidea) and Scleractinian Corals at Kona, Hawai'i
Authors:Chess, James R.
Hobson, Edmund S.
Howard, Daniel F.
Date Issued:Apr 1997
Publisher:University of Hawai'i Press
Citation:Chess JR, Hobson ES, Howard DF. 1997. Interactions between Acanthaster planci (Echinodermata, Asteroidea) and scleractinian corals at Kona, Hawai'i. Pac Sci 51(2): 121-133.
Abstract:Annual assessments of reef communities at Kona, Hawai'i, from 1985
to 1995 determined that the corallivorous sea star Acanthaster planci preferred as
prey the smaller colonies of Pocillopora meandrina over the far more abundant
Porites compressa and P. lobata. This finding came from three distinct settings: a
Reef-Top habitat, where large (> 15 em) colonies of Pocillopora meandrina were
dominant; a Reef-Face/Boulder habitat, where living scleractinians-mainly an
encrusting form of Porites lobata-covered <5% of the substrate; and a CoralRich
habitat, where living scleractinians-mainly Porites compressa and a massive
form of P. lobata-covered >95% of the substrate. Although a corallivore, A. planci
was most numerous on the reef face and adjacent boulders, where corals were
fewest. There it fed mainly on colonies of P. meandrina, even though this species
represented < 1% of the sparse coral coverage. Virtually all P. meandrina colonies
in that habitat were < 10 em in diameter, and all seen eaten by A. planci there were
<5 em. The sea star was less numerous where corals were most abundant, and there
it fed on species essentially in accordance with their relative abundance in the
environment. A strong inverse relationship in occurrence between the sea star and
small P. meandrina colonies on the reef face and adjacent boulders indicated that
this favored prey was a limited resource and that sea-star predation prevented it
from becoming established in that habitat.
Appears in Collections: Pacific Science Volume 55, Number 2, 2001

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