Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
Much research has been conducted on the grazing effects of A. planci on coral reef cover and survival. Large populations of these starfish can devastate a reef, which has occurred on the Great Barrier Reef. Furthermore, after live coral cover has been reduced, both juvenile and sub-adult starfish preferentially choose to feed on newly-formed hard coral, which significantly impacts the coral recovery process. Surveys conducted since the early 1990’s have illustrated the decline in live hard coral cover coincident with crown-of-thorns outbreaks along the reef systems between Lizard Island and Townsville (coastal Queensland, Australia). Researchers have emphasized the importance of raising public awareness of these continually increasing outbreaks, since starfish predation on coral can seriously damage the reefs to the point where sustainability of the lucrative reef tourism industry could be impacted. To protect these reefs as well as the people who depend on them for their economic livelihood, researchers need to determine how human activities affect the cycle of starfish outbreaks. Specifically, more research needs to be conducted on the effects of overfishing known predators of A. planci, and on how increased nutrient runoff from land affects survival, recruitment, and growth of larval A. planci.
Negative Impacts: injures humans (bites or stings, venomous )