Spatio-temporal dynamics of Crown-of-Thorns and other echinoderm larvae on the GBR as revealed by eDNA

I completed my Bachelor of Science at the University of Queensland in mid-2020 and subsequently commenced my honours project with the Riginos Research Group. My honours project aims to determine the diversity of echinoderm larvae within plankton samples collected as part of the AIMS long-term monitoring programme. The project involves the design of echinoderm-specific barcoding primers that will be used to determine the presence and absence of echinoderm taxa. In particular, I aim to detect the presence and absence of larvae of the corallivorous Crown-of-Thorns starfish (Acanthaster solaris) in the context of echinoderm diversity and environmental conditions.

This work will hopefully provide some preliminary information on the presence and absence of echinoderm larvae on a spatio-temporal scale. Additionally, the design of robust echinoderm primers will aid future ‘metabarcoding’ and surveillance projects that aim to document the diversity and distribution of echinoderm taxa.