Dr Sven Uthicke

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The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is currently experiencing a 4th wave of crown-of-thorns seastar (Acanthaster planci) infestations since the 1960’s. The seastars are spreading rapidly with reefs from Lizard Island to Cairns suffering massive coral mortality. The race is on again to learn more about the biology of COTS and fund some smart science to develop strategies that will miminise the coral loss caused by the voracious coral predator.
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This research incorporated field and experimental work on benthic foraminifera as indicators for water quality in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Firstly, distribution of benthic foraminifera was examined on 20 reefs in four regions of the GBR (Princess Charlotte Bay, Wet Tropics, Whitsunday Area, and Mid/Outer-shelf reefs), and along a water quality (WQ) gradient in the Whitsunday region. Secondly, manipulative laboratory experiments were carried out to determine whether the distribution of symbiont-bearing foraminifera is controlled by light levels or other environmental factors.