Samuel Matthews - AIMS@JCU

Samuel Matthews

sammatthews990@gmail.com

PhD
College of Science and Engineering

Samuel Matthews

sammatthews990@gmail.com

PhD
College of Science and Engineering
Modelling crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) outbreaks: Coupling biophysical, demographic and connectivity processes

Sam grew up in the hills south of Sydney and moved to Wollongong to study marine science at UOW in 2009. He completed his honours in 2013 researching the effects of climate change on the social behavior of an invasive mosquitofish. In 2014 Sam worked in Samos, Greece for 6 months as the Marine Coordinator at Archipelagos Institute for Marine Science. Sam commenced his PhD in April 2015, aiming to model the population dynamics of Crown-of-thorns Starfish (COTS) outbreaks and to evaluate the management options to mitigate this pervasive threat to the GBR.

Modelling crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) outbreaks: Coupling biophysical, demographic and connectivity processes

2015 to 2019

Project Description

Sam’s project aims to create a meta-population model for COTS outbreaks to understand the main factors driving these outbreaks and to determine the most effective management strategies. His research also aims to provide a database of the disturbance history across the GBR to be used as a platform for future reef-wide ecosystem models

Project Importance

COTS outbreaks have been responsible for around %40 of the decline of coral cover over the last 30 years, and effective management of outbreaks is one of only direct interventions available to promote the recovery of the GBR. Sam’s project is an integral step towards reducing the impact of COTS outbreaks by reconstructing the patterns of COTS outbreaks to simulate the most effective management strategies. Sam’s project will also compare the likely effectiveness of emerging control techniques offering a guide for investment in future research.

Project Methods

Sam is constructing a stage based metapopulation model using the R statistical language by combining published life history characteristics with estimates of larval connectivity and coral growth rates. The empirical modeling procedure combines all available data from AIMS, GBRMPA and the COTS control program to validate and refine model predictions and parameter estimates.

Project Results

Sam has built the Disturbance database for the GBR which combines estimates for all disturbance events (COTS, Cyclones, Bleaching) between 1985-2017 and is set to publish this for general use. He is currently tuning the parameters of the meta-population model which is to be completed in 2019.

Keywords

Biostatistics,
Climate change,
Coral reefs,
Corals,
Crown of Thorn Starfish,
Distribution,
Echinoderms,
Ecology,
Management tools,
Modelling,
Natural disturbance,
Quantitative marine science,
Temporal change

Supervised By:

Morgan Pratchett (JCU)

Julian Caley (AIMS)

Camille Mellin (AIMS) ()