Establishing the future NESP CoTS research framework including an ecologically-based approach to the management of CoTS at multiple scales
Led by: Dr David Westcott, CSIRO
This project will lay the foundations for the development of a reliable CoTS surveillance and control program based on detailed understanding of i) CoTS ecology, population dynamics and movement, ii) the CoTS control program’s capabilities and constraints, and, iii) IPM principles. In the project’s initial phase a CoTS Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Workshop will be conducted. This workshop will bring together managers and researchers with purpose of defining a tactical approach to current CoTS management and a strategic approach for the management of future outbreaks.
This will be achieved through the development of management-focused qualitative models of the CoTS/control system. These models will be used to identify key system components and associated knowledge gaps and will provide the logical structure of a future quantitative simulation model to test and compare alternative management scenarios. These two frameworks, and the data needs identified to operationalise them, will form the basis for the development of a CoTS Strategic Research plan. It is envisaged this Project will lead into the CoTS IPM Program and provide the direction for CoTS research under future NESP investment.
Effective pest management strategies invest management resources based on an understanding of the pest’s distribution, movement and population dynamics, such that key population events are targeted at critical locations and times with appropriately scaled management resources. Current CoTS control, in contrast, is largely reactive; operating on human scales (e.g. dive sites) rather than those of CoTS population processes, and focusing on tactical metrics (e.g. animals killed) rather than strategic goals (e.g. preventing coral loss).
How Research Addresses Problem
In this pilot project, experts in Integrated Pest Management (IPM), systems modelling, CoTS biology and CoTS field management will develop a qualitative model of the CoTS/control system i) at the scale of active management and ii) at the scale of the phenomenon. These models will be used to reach consensus on the structure of the system, to identify management relevant knowledge gaps in our understanding of CoTS ecology and control, and, to identify realistic control objectives. These models will be used to drive the integration of current and planned research efforts and to structure a CoTS research program. Ultimately, these models will also form the basis of models of the spatial and temporal interactions between CoTS populations and control efforts and enable scenario testing to identify the most efficient and effective strategies for surveillance and for modifying CoTS population dynamics in order to avoid/limit outbreaks.
The process by which this is achieved is critical. It is essential that the stakeholders (DotE, GBRMPA, AMSTO etc) and researchers are engaged and collaborating so that the CoTS research and control activities are backed by an agreed research agenda that i) delivers strategic information needed to progress workable ‘real life’ solutions for CoTS control and ii) contributes to the priorities and strategies of the key agencies (DotE and GBRMPA). To this end, a series of workshops, including a facilitated event, with key researchers and stakeholders will be held to establish the research and Integrated Pest Management Framework for future NESP investment in CoTS control in the GBR.
Without an integrated pest management approach to CoTS, supported by an agreed research framework and projects that contribute to it goals, well intended research work will occur in isolation and opportunities to integrate and apply research results will be missed. To this end, a series of workshops, including a facilitated event, with key researchers and stakeholders will be held to establish the research and Integrated Pest Management Framework for future NESP investment in CoTS control in the GBR.
Integrated pest management; IPM; Surveillance strategies; Control strategies; Movement; Crown of thorns starfish; CoTS.
This project is jointly funded through CSIRO, AIMS, AMPTO, JCU, UQ and the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Programme.