TERRAPUB Journal of Oceanography

Journal of Oceanography, Vol. 66 (No. 3), pp. 435-438, 2010

Short Contribution

Acanthaster planci Outbreaks in Vanuatu Coincide with Ocean Productivity, Furthering Trends throughout the Pacific Ocean

Peter Houk1* and Jason Raubani2

1Pacific Marine Resources Institute, PMB 1156, PO Box 10003, Saipan, MP 96950, U.S.A.
2Vanuatu Fisheries Department, PMB 9045, Port Villa, Vanuatu

(Received 3 November 2009; in revised form 26 January 2010; accepted 26 January 2010)

Abstract: This study identifies linkages between regional ocean productivity and the emergence of large Acanthaster planci starfish populations in Vanuatu. Positive correlations were found between wind stress, chlorophyll-a, and upwelling during January-February 2009, corresponding with coral-eating starfish occurrences. Further, temporal associations have existed between monthly wind stress and upwelling since 2000, and were predictors of past starfish events. Links between starfish emergence and oceanographic features are discussed, drawing upon evidence from other asteroid echinoderms. High regional productivity associated with anomalous oceanographic conditions in Vanuatu, and globally, can be used as early warning indicators of probable, future starfish emergence to aid the foundation and success of local management efforts.

*Corresponding author E-mail: peterhouk@pacmares.com

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