Since 1962 the crown-of-thorns starfish, Acanthaster planci, has caused the devastation of living coral in large tracts of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Some authorities view this as a modern phenomenon, resulting from ecological disturbance caused by man. Evidence from skeletal remains in sediment suggests that large A. planci populations have been part of the Great Barrier Reefecosystem for at least 8000 years. Coral predation by A. planci is likely to have influenced the morphological fabric of the Great Barrier Reef in its post-glacial development and may also have influenced species richness of the reef biota.
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