Karl Jensen - AIMS@JCU

Karl Jensen


Masters by Research
College of Science and Engineering

Karl Jensen


Masters by Research
College of Science and Engineering
Feeding selectivity in herbivorous crown-of-thorns seastar juveniles

A chance opportunity to go SCUBA diving awakened an unknown fascination with the marine environment and prompted a career change. After successfully completing an undergraduate program in Marine Science and Coastal Management at SCU Karl has migrated to warmer waters to complete further study at JCU. Karl is an avid diver and macro photographer with a particular love of heterobranchs. Karl brings enthusiasm, positivity, and determination to this project and is excited by the chance to advance the understanding of CoTS ecology.

Feeding selectivity in herbivorous crown-of-thorns seastar juveniles

2023 to 2023

Project Description

The project aims to enhance knowledge of CoTS ecology specifically exploring the feeding preference of herbivorous juvenile CoTS amongst various CCA and compared with CCA preferred for settlement.

Project Importance

CoTs are voracious corallivores responsible for significant amounts of coral loss during population outbreaks. The vulnerability of corals to CoTS outbreaks is enhanced in the face of climate change with increased incidents of bleaching and storms.
Developing understanding of juvenile CoTs ecology may help to understand their spatial and temporal distribution of population outbreaks and inform future management of CoTS populations.

Project Methods

The project will involve manipulative experiments observing feeding preferences of juvenile CoTS with single species of CCA, and multiple-choice assays using several CCA species. Feeding will be quantified using photography and image analysis. The project may also explore either or both of the nutritional value of various CCA species and/or the growth and development of juvenile CoTS.

Project Results

Doll et al. (2023) https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2022.0399, identified strong preferences in CCA species for CoTS settlement. Similarly, Johansson et al. (2016) https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-016-2823-0 observed distinct preference in corallivorous juvenile CoTS. This project hopes to observe and interpret distinct preferences for herbivorous juvenile CoTs.


Controlled Environment,
Coral reefs,
Crown of Thorn Starfish,
Manipulative experiments,
Natural disturbance,
Quantitative marine science

Supervised By:

Sven Uthicke (AIMS)

Peter Doll (JCU)

Guillermo Diaz-Pulido (Griffith University)