AIMS Long-term Monitoring Program: Crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) and benthos Manta Tow Data (Great Barrier Reef)


Temporal Range: From 25-Mar-1983

Resource Summary

64 'key' reefs in 11 sectors of the Great Barrier Reef (Cape Grenville, Princess Charlotte Bay, Cooktown/Lizard Island, Cairns, Innisfail, Townsville, Cape Upstart, Whitsunday, Pompey Complex, Swain and Capricorn Bunker) are annually surveyed for crown-of-thorns starfish using the manta tow technique. An additional 117 reefs from the sectors (excluding the Whitsunday, Swain and Capricorn-Bunker sectors) are scheduled for survey every third year ('cycle' reefs). The cycle manta tow reefs take second priority if surveys are unable to be completed because of bad weather and limited ship time.

Results of manta tow surveys around the perimeter of reefs assessing populations of Crown-of-Thorns Starfish (COTS), Acanthaster planci. Historical data are held from a number of projects - P. Moran's post-doctoral work, CCEP scheme, COTSAC, COTSREC, LTMP. All data are stored in the Oracle database table RM_MANTA, and data from all but the first listed program are generally consistent and systematic. In the latest and ongoing program - the Long Term Monitoring Program (LTMP) - about 50 reefs throughout the Great Barrier Reef and NW Australia have been sampled.

Observations started in January 1982 and are ongoing.

For each two-minute manta tow the variables recorded are: Number and size of COTS; Percentage cover of live coral, bleached, dead coral, soft coral, sand and rubble; Visibility; Any other observations of note.

The ambient variables recorded include, information about the survey (reef name, time, date, data collectors), and the weather conditions:(Wind strength; Cloud cover; Sea state; and Tide).

Information is also recorded about the reef environment of each survey (e.g. reef slope, substratum at reef base) and its benthic community (dominant benthic group, dominant hard coral, and dominant coral life form).

To assess populations of Crown-of-Thorns Starfish (COTS), Acanthaster planci, on reefs.

Coral Reef - Feeding Scar, Crown of Thorns Starfish - Diameter, Crown of Thorns Starfish - Outbreak Status, Percentage Cover, Count - Individuals, Turbidity

Number and size of COTS. Size is recorded as follows: J = less than or equal to 5cm, early juvenile, <1 yr; A = 6-15cm Juvenile, 1-2 yrs; B = 15-25cm Sub-Adult, 2-3 yrs; C = >25cm Adult, >3 yrs). If no COTS are seen, then the column is left blank. When several size categories are seen, the category with the most numerous counts is recorded, and a note is made of the other size categories in the 'other' column.
Percentage cover of live coral, bleached, dead coral, soft coral, sand and rubble. Categories are: 0 = 0%, 0+ = Individual colonies (<1% total hard coral cover), 1- = 1-5%, 1+ = 5-10%, 2 = 10-30%, 3 = 30-50%, 4 = 50-75%, 5 = 75-100%).
Presence of COTS feeding scars: absent (A: 0), present (P: 1-10) or common (C >10).

The ambient variables recorded include, information about the survey (reef name, time, date, data collectors), and the weather conditions:
Wind strength categories: 1 = 0-5 knots; 2 = 6-10 knots; 3 = 11-15 knots; 4 = 16-20 knots; 5 = 21-25 knots
Cloud cover unit of measure is the okta. One okta = one eigth of the sky.
Sea State. A modified Beaufort scale describes sea state: Calm = Mirror-like to small ripples; Slight = Small waves, some whitecaps; Moderate = Moderate waves, many whitecaps; Rough = Large waves 2-3 m, whitecaps everywhere, some spray
Tide is recorded as low (1.5 hrs either side of Low water), high (1.5 hrs either side of High water), falling (between High and Low water) or rising (between Low and High water), determined from a Tide Table.

Data have been used for the e-Atlas:
http://e-atlas.org.au/content/large-scale-manta-tow-surveys-densities-crown-thorns-starfish-and-benthic-cover-aims-ltmp

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The data was collected under contract between AIMS and another party(s). Specific agreements for access and use of the data shall be negotiated separately. Contact the AIMS Data Centre (adc@aims.gov.au) for further information

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Format for citation of metadata sourced from Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) in a list of reference is as follows: "Australian Institute of Marine Science. [year-of-data-download], [Title], [data-access-URL], accessed (date-of-access]".

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These data are under an exclusive access period. Contact the AIMS Data Centre (adc@aims.gov.au) for possible access to the data within this period.

Access Constraint: restricted
Use Constraint: restricted
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Metadata Usage:
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Cite this Record
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Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). 2015, AIMS Long-term Monitoring Program: Crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) and benthos Manta Tow Data (Great Barrier Reef), https://doi.org/10.25845/5c09b0abf315a, accessed 16-Jun-2019
Related Information
Causes and consequences of the crown-of-thorns starfish on Australian coral reefs: Moran PJ and Lassig BR (1997) Causes and consequences of the crown-of-thorns starfish on Australian coral reefs. unformatted - In: Zann LP and Kailola PJ (eds) State of the Marine Environment Report. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. 400 p.
A quality control procedure for observer agreement of manta tow benthic cover estimates: Miller IR and Muller R (1997) A quality control procedure for observer agreement of manta tow benthic cover estimates. 2:1475-1478. In: Proceedings of the 8th International Coral Reef Symposium, Panama, 24-29 June 1996. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
Long-term Monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Status Report Number 1: Oliver JK, De'ath AG, Done TJ, Williams DMcB, Furnas MJ and Moran PJ (1995) Long-term Monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Status Report Number 1. LTM No.1. Australian Institute of Marine Science. 121 p.
A guide to the reef ecology database: 1. Description of data: Baker VJ, Moran PJ, Mundy CN, Reichelt RE and Speare PJ (1991) A guide to the reef ecology database: 1. Description of data. Australian Institute of Marine Science.
Distribution of Acanthaster planci outbreaks on the Great Barrier Reef between 1966 and 1989: Reichelt RE, Bradbury RH and Moran PJ (1990) Distribution of Acanthaster planci outbreaks on the Great Barrier Reef between 1966 and 1989. Coral Reefs 9: 97-103.
Bias in manta tow surveys of Acanthaster planci: Fernandes L, Marsh H, Moran PJ and Sinclair D (1990) Bias in manta tow surveys of Acanthaster planci. Coral Reefs 9: 155-160.
Long-term monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Status Report Number 2: Sweatman HPA (1997) Long-term monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Status Report Number 2. LTM No.2. Australian Institute of Marine Science. 161 p.
The current status of sessile benthic organisms of the Great Barrier Reef: Osborne K, Ninio R and Sweatman HPA (1997) The current status of sessile benthic organisms of the Great Barrier Reef. pp. 124-133. In: Wachenfeld D, Oliver JK and Davis K (eds) State of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area Workshop. Proceedings of a technical workshop held in Townsville, Queensland, Australia 27-29 November 1995. GBRMPA Workshop Series. 23. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
Effects of training on observer performance in assessing benthic cover by menas of the manta tow technique: Miller IR and De'ath AG (1996) Effects of training on observer performance in assessing benthic cover by menas of the manta tow technique. Marine and Freshwater Research 47: 19-26.
Broadscale surveys of crown-of-thorns starfish on the Great Barrier Reef 1988 to 1989. Long term monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Crown-of-thorns study: Bass DK, Davidson J, Johnson DB, Miller IR, Miller-Smith BA, Mundy CN, Thompson AA and Baker VJ (1989) Broadscale surveys of crown-of-thorns starfish on the Great Barrier Reef 1988 to 1989. Long term monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Crown-of-thorns study. Australian Institute of Marine Science. 166 p.
Survey Manual for Tropical Marine Resources: English S, Wilkinson CR and Baker VJ (eds) (1994) Survey Manual for Tropical Marine Resources. Australian Institute of Marine Science. 368 p.<br>
Broadscale surveys of crown-of-thorns starfish, corals on the Great Barrier Reef 1992 to 1993. Long term monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Crown-of thorns study Report no. 1: Bainbridge S, Bass DK and Miller IR (1994) Broadscale surveys of crown-of-thorns starfish, corals on the Great Barrier Reef 1992 to 1993. Long term monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Crown-of thorns study Report no. 1. Australian Institute of Marine Science. 131 p.
Crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) populations in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area: status report 1995-96: Engelhardt U, Miller IR, Lassig BR, Sweatman HPA and Bass DK (1997) Crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) populations in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area: status report 1995-96. pp. 158-184. In: Wachenfeld D, Oliver JK and Davis K (eds) State of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area Workshop. Proceedings of a technical workshop held in Townsville, Queensland, Australia 27-29 November 1995. GBRMPA Workshop Series. 23. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
Crown-of-thorns Starfish, Coral surveys Using the Manta Tow, Scuba Search Techniques. Long term monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Standard operational procedure No. 1: Bass DK and Miller IR (1995) Crown-of-thorns Starfish, Coral surveys Using the Manta Tow, Scuba Search Techniques. Long term monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Standard operational procedure No. 1. SOP 1. Australian Institute of Marine Science. 33 p.
A guide to the AIMS Manta Tow technique: Moran PJ, Johnson DB, Miller-Smith BA, Mundy CN, Bass DK, Davidson J, Miller IR and Thompson AA (1989) A guide to the AIMS Manta Tow technique. Australian Institute of Marine Science.
Broadscale surveys of Crown-of-thorns starfish on the Great Barrier Reef, 1987 to 1988. Long term monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Crown-of-thorns study: Bass DK, Davidson J, Johnson DB, Miller-Smith BA and Mundy CN (1989) Broadscale surveys of Crown-of-thorns starfish on the Great Barrier Reef, 1987 to 1988. Long term monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Crown-of-thorns study. 172 p.
Outbreaks of the Crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) on the Great Barrier Reef: results of surveys 1986-1988: Johnson DB, Bass DK, Miller-Smith BA, Moran PJ, Mundy CN and Speare PJ (1988) Outbreaks of the Crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) on the Great Barrier Reef: results of surveys 1986-1988. 2: 165-169. In: Proceedings of the 6th International Coral Reef Symposium, Townsville, Australia 8-12 August 1988.
Broadscale surveys of Crown-of-thorns starfish on the Great Barrier Reef, 1986 to 1987. Long term monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Crown-of thorns study: Bass DK, Johnson DB, Miller-Smith BA and Mundy CN (1988) Broadscale surveys of Crown-of-thorns starfish on the Great Barrier Reef, 1986 to 1987. Long term monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Crown-of thorns study. 145 p.
Distribution of recent outbreaks of the Crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) along the Great Barrier Reef: 1985-1986: Moran PJ, Bradbury RH and Reichelt RE (1988) Distribution of recent outbreaks of the Crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) along the Great Barrier Reef: 1985-1986. Coral Reefs 7: 125-137.
Manta tow surveys of the Great Barrier Reef: Baker VJ, Bass DK, Christie CA, Johnson DB, Miller IR, Miller-Smith BA, Moran PJ and Thompson AA (1990) Manta tow surveys of the Great Barrier Reef. Coral Reefs 9: 104-.
COTSAC funded research on the ecological aspects of the Crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci): AIMS project proposals. The corwn-of-thorns study: Moran PJ (1985) COTSAC funded research on the ecological aspects of the Crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci): AIMS project proposals. The corwn-of-thorns study. Report 1. 160 p.
Rapid, large area reef resource surveys using a manta board: Done TJ, Kenchington RA and Zell LD (1982) Rapid, large area reef resource surveys using a manta board. 1: 299-308. In: Proceedings of the 4th International Coral Reef Symposium, Manila, 1981. Marine Sciences Center, University of the Philippines.
Broadscale surveys of crown-of-thorns starfish, corals along the Great Barrier Reef : 1982-1990. Long term monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Crown-of-thorns study: Moran PJ, De'ath AG, Baker VJ, Bass DK, Christie CA, Johnson DB, Miller IR, Miller-Smith BA, Mundy CN and Thompson AA (1991) Broadscale surveys of crown-of-thorns starfish, corals along the Great Barrier Reef : 1982-1990. Long term monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Crown-of-thorns study. Australian Institute of Marine Science. 36 p.
Broadscale surveys of crown-of-thorns starfish along the Great Barrier Reef 1982-1992.Long term monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Crown-of-thorns study: (1993) Broadscale surveys of crown-of-thorns starfish along the Great Barrier Reef 1982-1992.Long term monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Crown-of-thorns study. 36 p.
The Acanthaster phenomeon: subject index. Long term monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Crown-of-thorns study: Dartnall J and Moran PJ (1987) The Acanthaster phenomeon: subject index. Long term monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Crown-of-thorns study. Australian Institute of Marine Science. 13 p.
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No-take reserves protect coral reefs from predatory starfish: Sweatman HPA (2008) No-take reserves protect coral reefs from predatory starfish. Current Biology 18: R598-R599.
Long-term monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Status Report Number 7: Sweatman HPA, Burgess S, Cheal AJ, Coleman GJ, Delean S, Emslie MJ, McDonald A, Miller IR, Osborne K and Thompson AA (2005) Long-term monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Status Report Number 7. Australian Institute of Marine Science & CRC Reef Research Centre. 257 p.
Long-Term Monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Status Report Number 6: Sweatman HPA, Abdo D, Burgess S, Coleman GJ, Delean S, Emslie MJ, Miller IR, Osborne K, Oxley WG, Page CM, Thompson AA, Cheal AJ and Cheal AJ (2004) Long-Term Monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Status Report Number 6. Australian Institute of Marine Science. CD-ROM.
Broadscale surveys of crown-of-thorns starfish along the Great Barrier Reef 1993-2003 Long-term Monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef: Miller IR, Coleman GJ, Delean S and Sweatman HPA (2004) Broadscale surveys of crown-of-thorns starfish along the Great Barrier Reef 1993-2003 Long-term Monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. 36. Australian Institute of Marine Science. 31 p.
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Responses of coral and fish assemblages to a severe but short-lived tropical cyclone on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia: Cheal AJ, Coleman GJ, Delean S, Miller IR, Osborne K and Sweatman HPA (2002) Responses of coral and fish assemblages to a severe but short-lived tropical cyclone on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Coral Reefs 21: 131-142.
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A guide to the reef monitoring database. Long term monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Standard operational procedure No. 5: Baker VJ and Coleman GJ (2000) A guide to the reef monitoring database. Long term monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Standard operational procedure No. 5. SOP 5. Australian Institute of Marine Science. 72 p.
The Australian Institute of Marine Science's Coral Reef Monitoring Programs on the Great Barrier Reef: Sweatman HPA (1999) The Australian Institute of Marine Science's Coral Reef Monitoring Programs on the Great Barrier Reef. pp. 225-238. In: Proceedings of the Hawai'i Coral Reef Monitoring Workshop, June 9-11, 1998, Honolulu, Hawai'i. Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hawaii.
Validity and reproducibility of benthic cover estimates made during broadscale surveys of coral reefs by manta tow: Miller IR and Muller R (1999) Validity and reproducibility of benthic cover estimates made during broadscale surveys of coral reefs by manta tow. Coral Reefs 18: 353-356.
Long-term Monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Status Report Number 3: Sweatman HPA, Bass DK, Cheal AJ, Coleman GJ, Miller IR, Ninio R, Osborne K, Oxley WG, Ryan DAJ, Thompson AA and Tomkins P (1998) Long-term Monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Status Report Number 3. LTM No. 3. Australian Institute of Marine Science. 303 p.
The 27 year decline in coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef and its causes: De'ath AG, Fabricius KE, Sweatman HPA and Puotinen ML (2012) The 27 year decline in coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef and its causes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
Broadscale surveys of Crown-of-thorns starfish on the Great Barrier Reef 1989 to 1990. Long term monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Crown-of thorns study: Baker VJ, Bass DK, Christie CA, Miller IR, Miller-Smith BA, Thompson AA and Mundy CN (1990) Broadscale surveys of Crown-of-thorns starfish on the Great Barrier Reef 1989 to 1990. Long term monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Crown-of thorns study. Australian Institute of Marine Science. 240 p.
Patterns of outbreaks of Crown-of-thorns Starfish (Acanthaster planci L.) along the Great Barrier Reef since 1966: Moran PJ, De'ath AG, Baker VJ, Bass DK, Christie CA, Miller IR, Miller-Smith BA and Thompson AA (1992) Patterns of outbreaks of Crown-of-thorns Starfish (Acanthaster planci L.) along the Great Barrier Reef since 1966. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 43: 555-568.
Suitability of the Manta Tow Technique for Estimating Relative and Absolute Abundances of Crown-of-ThornsStarfisf (Acanthaster planci L.) and Corals: Moran PJ and De'ath AG (1992) Suitability of the Manta Tow Technique for Estimating Relative and Absolute Abundances of Crown-of-ThornsStarfisf (Acanthaster planci L.) and Corals. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 43:357-378.
Estimates of the abundance of crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) in outbreaking and non-outbreaking populations on reefs within the Great Barrier Reef: Moran PJ and De'ath AG (1992) Estimates of the abundance of crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) in outbreaking and non-outbreaking populations on reefs within the Great Barrier Reef. Marine Biology 113:509-515.
Broadscale surveys of Crown-of-thorns starfish on the Great Barrier Reef, 1991 to 1992. Long term monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Crown-of thorns study: Baker VJ, Bass DK, Christie CA, Miller IR and Thompson AA (1992) Broadscale surveys of Crown-of-thorns starfish on the Great Barrier Reef, 1991 to 1992. Long term monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Crown-of thorns study. 170 p.
Review of the Crown-of-thorns Starfish Research Committee (COTSREC) Program: Lassig BR, Engelhardt U, Moran PJ and Ayukai T (1995) Review of the Crown-of-thorns Starfish Research Committee (COTSREC) Program. 39. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. 91 p.