A coding method for identifying individuals by utilizing natural attributes (numbers and disposition of arms, madrporites, anuses, spines and deformities) permits individual recognition of crown-of-thorns sea stars Acanthaster planci. Because natural injuries altering parts of the code are frequent in A. planci (present in 20% to 40% of the individuals in a population), the physiognomy of the centrally located periproct, which is much less frequently injured than peripherally located areas, was used in combination with the arrangement of arms and madreporites. Identical madreporite/arm codes occurred in fewer sea stars in Guam (0%) than in Panamá (14%). The greater variability among sea stars at the western Pacific locality could be due in part to the higher incidence of gross deformities (presumed injuries) in Guam (43%) compared with Panamá (17%).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Aquatic Science