CoTS and Code of Ethics for Researchers

BobEndean

“Engaging with decision-makers means going beyond developing solutions, conducting experiments and publishing data. Situations arise in which there is an ethical responsibility to engage with decision-makers, be they representatives of government, academia, companies or other entities – for instance to correct health misinformation around vaccination safety or to understand the impact of climate change on populations. Other situations exist in which research is only possible by engaging with decisionmakers – for example to access government or corporate data sets, facilities or resources. This engagement may be at any or all stages of the research process as needed. Reasons to engage are manifold, but ultimately the involvement of decision-makers greatly facilitates the probability that scientific outcomes will be translated into positive societal change.” http://widgets.weforum.org/coe/#code

Introduction to initial thesis of 1985 (without revision)

The primary hindrance to any creative synthesis is the failure to recognize the causes of dissension in science. In some cases a critic may doubt the integrity of either the scientist or the data. In these cases further repetition of experiments may alleviate skepticism. In other cases, there may be a philosophical disagreement which has its basis in differing beliefs held by scientists. These preconceptions, which all scientists possess, can severely limit the process of conciliation. Dissension, however caused, is not easily resolved, and often leads to polarization within science. The failure of science to recognize and acknowledge explicitly, the validity of differing viewpoints based on the same data demonstrates confusion over these two causes of dissension.

Additionally, our aversion to implausible conjecture has limited the diversity of models that can be open to empiric testing. It must be remembered that, when seen through the eyes of a different culture, a model held to be true universally might appear implausible. An example is our astonishment at the complexity of Micronesian fishhooks which have been individually crafted to capture specific types of fish (Johannes, 1981). The pattern of relative planetary movements in our solar system was simplified greatly when the geo-centric model was discarded, in favor of a model in which the planets moved in orbits about the sun (Whitlam, 1975). This and other conceptual leaps have occurred when cultural limitations were waived temporarily, and the consequently greater insight justified the cultural changes that followed. The phrase, “that is only conjecture”, seems to imply that many scientists regard conjecture as superfluous in the day to day running of science. In the pursuit of scientific rigor, we often overlook this necessary component of synthesis and find it increasingly difficult to model our thoughts in a manner that enables others to see a more distant horizon by standing on our shoulders.

Finally, the scientific process might not progress beyond the accumulation of facts. Often it appears impossible, from the data, to do more than simplify nature’s variability by statistics, to categorize its variety by description or to model its behavior mathematically. These techniques should be tools to further understanding of the interrelationships between the elements under study. To many workers the apparently stochastic nature of many phenomena prohibits a more detailed analysis.

In recent years there have been many studies in coral reef ecology, biology and biogeography. Often, they are related, one to another, by a common principle or factor (e.g. population outbreaks of Acanthaster planci, plans for reef management or theoretical questions about the causes of diversity). Whenever several independent researchers study similar phenomena or ask similar questions, the possibility of dissension arises. The ensuing debates, and even hostility, can appear as a failure in communication between the scientists concerned. More often the observed behavior results from philosophic disagreement taking its natural course. Philosophic changes in both science and society are often inseparable; they rarely occur, figuratively speaking, without bloodshed.

Philosophic clashes are likely to occur whenever the capacity to acquire data, strategic to the opposing viewpoints, approaches a limit imposed by logistics or technology. This is certainly the case with much of the ecological debate over population outbreaks of Acanthaster planci. The failure to recognize the symptoms of this fundamental disagreement can lead to much wasted effort, funds and, most of all, time. Often, we need to determine which observations are required to swing general support from one model to another. However, the competing models may have reached the same level of logistic untestability and there may be no logistically possible observation or series of experiments which could distinguish between the validities of either model.

There has been much debate about the relative roles of disturbance, stability and niche specialization, as factors contributing to the co- existence of the large number of species in some communities (e.g. Brown, 1981; Connell, 1978; Levins, 1963; MacArthur, 1955, 1969; May, 1972, 1974; Paine, 1966). By contrast, there has been little consideration of the possibility that these factors and associated models may be of secondary importance to community order or structure itself. The process of community succession follows a path of increasing complexity towards an hypothesized relatively static, climax community, the composition of which is determined by prevailing environmental as well as historical parameters (e.g. Dunbar, 1972). Throughout this process, as early (rapid) colonists are excluded by species that are competitively superior, the composition of the community changes. The number of species present in the community increases to a maximum at some stage of succession, prior to the climax and subsequently decreases as a result of the exclusion of inferior competitors (Connell, 1978). The extent to which disturbance, by creating spatial and temporal patches of early succession, acts to prevent the monopolization of available resources by a small number of superior competitors has been discussed extensively (e.g. Dayton, 1971; Levin and Paine, 1974). Other authors have either proposed or implied that high diversity communities are at equilibrium, and that species coexistence is mediated by the complex processes of interdependence and specialization that have evolved, in a physically benign environment, over long periods (e.g. Fischer, 1960; Sanders, 1969; and reviews by Goodman, 1975; Osman and Whitlatch, 1978; Pianka, 1966). Additionally, Jacobs (1974) and Peters (1976) have pointed out that the correspondence between stability in species composition and stage of community succession is tautological because a successional climax is defined in terms of its temporal stability.

The progressive increase in diversity, biomass, complexity and structure, resulting from the succession process, has been the focus of much discussion (e.g. Dunbar, 1972; Margalef, 1963; Odum,1969). In some instances (e.g. Sale, 1984), the co-existence of numerous species can be explained without resorting to complex, pattern oriented, models that require numerous assumptions which are testable only by prolonged, rigorous and exacting field observation. The almost universally accepted null hypothesis of “chance” does very little to enlighten biological scientists who want to understand or observe any existing inter-relationships between the species they study; that hypothesis, however, has gained a reverence totally unbecoming a statement that claims to say nothing at all (Dunbar, 1980; Roughgarden, 1983).

Any function which may be played by community order or structure has, in the past, been so secondary to the aims or objectives of the “experimental approach”, as to be uninteresting or considered logistically untestable (i.e. impractical or too difficult). However, there is a fundamental difference between a model being logistically untestable and it being logically untestable (for discussion compare Connell, 1980; Dunbar, 1980; Kuhn, 1970; Popper, 1983; Quinn and Dunham, 1983; Roughgarden, 1983; Simberloff, 1982). I do not propose that all the myths laid to rest by “Occam’s Razor” be resurrected and considered as reasonable explanations of available evidence. However, I do suggest that, in the field of coral reef ecology, our attempts to simplify the system under study have produced models that bear little relationship to reality. The rigid adherence to the least complex and ramifying hypothesis, has made it difficult to see beyond the generally accepted view of nature based on probability theory and chance

While there have been many taxonomic and biogeographic works dealing with the coral reef asteroid community (Clark, 1921, 1938, 1946; Clark and Rowe, 1971; Marsh, 1974; Marsh, 1974, 1976, 1977; Yamaguchi, 1975b), the ecological requirements of asteroid species occurring within the Indo-West Pacific region have not been studied extensively. It is known that many species occur on coral reefs throughout the region (Clark and Rowe, 1971), while others possess a more restricted distribution. Several asteroid species are known from only a few specimens and are considered to be rare (Clark, 1921; Yamaguchi, 1975b). The habitat requirements of coral reef asteroid species, and the ecological roles of rare as well as of more common species are not understood. It is not known whether rarity is a survival strategy, an abundance limit imposed by predators or a failure in competitive ability of a species on its path to extinction. These questions have not been answered for this or any other taxonomic group within the highly diverse and complex ecosystem of the coral reef.

Competition and other ecological models and corollaries draw their scientific context often, by analogy, from the corresponding pattern of interaction observed within contemporary human society. The influence of one’s cultural background in the initial perception and subsequent acceptance of the ecological generality of these analogies is overlooked often. A model is an abstraction only, but in common with all scientific models, socially analogous models can be raised, by consensus, to the status of paradigms, such that, observations which contradict the model are considered either inaccurate or implausible. Assume that the population size of some organism is limited by the level of juvenile recruitment in such a way that the density of adults is never sufficiently high for one individual to interact significantly with another (e.g. Dale, 1978; Doherty, 1982). If these assumptions were true but unknown, the interactions between adults and their ecological significance could be modeled incorrectly using competition theory. Observations, which are categorized within a severely limited body of theory, cannot be regarded as empiric support for any hypothesis, as biased observations can provide support for any model. It is possible that many organisms live presently at adult population densities, which are sufficiently low to preclude both, inter and intra-specific competition. In such species, the adult population density may be limited always, at some previous stage of the life cycle, and the adult populations may be free from density dependent interactions.

A range of reproductive strategies is found in coral reef asteroids. Sexual recruitment can follow either planktotrophic or lecithotrophic larval development (Yamaguchi, 1977b). The occurrence of parthenogenetic development (Yamaguchi and Lucas, 1984), hermaphroditism (Achituv, 1972) or asexual reproduction (Rideout, 1978) may be correlated with survival at low population density and the consequential low probability of locating an opposite sexed conspecific at breeding time. Within coral reef asteroids, asexual reproduction has been observed in Linckia guildingii, Linckia multifora, Ophidiaster robillardi, Echinaster luzonicus and Asterina anomala (Emson and Wilkie, 1980). This provides evidence that, in some species under certain conditions, genetic variability and potential dispersal are less important to the maintenance of population numbers, than is continuity of recruitment.

The larvae of coral reef asteroids generally require a solid substrate to complete their development, and a coralline algal substrate has been observed as the chosen settling surface for many species (Yamaguchi, 1973b). More complex species-specific optima, located by sensitive chemo-sensory receptors might ensure settlement in habitats which are conducive to survival of post-settlement stages (Morse, 1984). Yamaguchi (1977c) showed that some juvenile asteroids have exponential growth during the period following settlement and proposed that juveniles are subject to high mortality during this period. The juveniles transform to adult morphology at a certain size and before this may look quite different from adults (e.g. Culcita novaeguineae illustrated by Clark, 1921).

A general paucity of information about juveniles characterizes available data on population structures of large bodied, coral-reef asteroids (Yamaguchi, 1973a). It is possible that populations are maintained either by continual low recruitment or occasional high recruitment, each coupled with iteroparity. The juveniles are cryptic and their apparent absence or rarity indicates that reproductive success is either constantly low, sporadic or both. Sporadic success may depend on factors such as availability of planktonic food, level of planktonic predation or mortality of settled larvae. These may average out over the life span of the adult resulting in stability of adult numbers. Population increases of coral reef asteroid species have been well documented for Acanthaster planci, and apparent population increases of Linckia laevigata following Acanthaster outbreaks have been described (Laxton, 1974).

The differing requirements for growth and successful recruitment of juveniles, within the coral reef asteroid community, will have resulted in diverse life history strategies. A conceptual dichotomy exists in our perception of the life history of all organisms, and is referred to as r- versus K- strategy (Pianka, 1972; Stearns, 1976). These different survival characteristics are thought to have evolved in response to specific types of environments (Hairston, Tinkle and Wilbur, 1970; Murphy, 1968; Wilbur, Tinkle and Collins, 1974). The spectrum of existing life history attributes, apparent in any community study (see e.g. Menge, 1975; Vance, 1973), represents many points on a continuum between the conceptually ideal r- strategists and K- strategists.

Goodman (1974) proposed that if a population’s size is limited mainly by competition then natural selection will result in an increased competitive ability (K-selection) and, in populations which are not resource limited, selection will result in an increased reproductive rate (r-selection). The reproductive effort (energy used for reproduction compared with the energy used for non-reproductive purposes) and age specific mortality schedule are an indication of the type of selection which has occurred during the evolution of a species (Pianka, 1972).

The longevity of a species is determined by the relative probability of juvenile and adult survivorship. In the simplest case, if the probability of a sexually mature organism’s survival from one reproductive season to the next is greater than the probability of one of the offspring reaching sexual maturity, then the species will exhibit iteroparity (see Goodman, 1974; Murphy, 1968). The weighting of selective attributes is arbitrary (e.g. niche specialization, number and size of eggs, longevity, possession of toxin), as the absolute ends of the r-K continuum do not exist in reality. Unpredictable environmental factors (e.g. perils of larval life and enormous potential dispersion) can result in a high numerical fecundity, and consequentially, most marine benthic invertebrates have a high energy cost associated with reproduction (Mileikovsky, 1971).

The dispersal stage of a population spreads the risk of local extinction in space and time (den Boer, 1968; Scheltema, 1971; Strathmann, 1974). The early stages of succession survive by being able to colonize regions quickly following disturbance. The resultant spatial and temporal variation in population size seems to characterize the typical r- strategists. Their populations are stable only when viewed on a larger scale. The spatial and temporal scale at which a species must be viewed for its numbers to be stable is an indication of its position on the r-K continuum.

The life history strategy, of each species, will be viewed in this context and a variety of strategies should be observed within the coral reef asteroid community. Early succession species would be expected to have large fluctuations while late succession species should have smaller ones. Stable, climax communities should be characterized by small fluctuations of their component species. The apparent stability of any biological system is dependent on the scale of observation (see Bradbury and Reichelt, 1982; Sale, 1984; Weiss, 1969). At the organismic scale, there would be neither temporal nor spatial abundance variation if an individual exactly replaced itself, without dispersing, then died. At the population scale, a level of numerical stability, consistent with a model of community equilibrium and climax, could be achieved if dispersion, larval survival and settlement phenomena did not result in greatly differing adult numbers from one year to the next.

Since the late 1950’s, coral reefs of the Indo-West Pacific region have experienced population outbreaks of the corallivorous asteroid Acanthaster planci (e.g. Bligh and Bligh, 1971; Branham, 1973; Chesher, 1969; Endean and Chesher, 1973; Endean and Stablum, 1975; Goreau, 1963; Heydorn, 1972; Kenchington, 1976; Marsh and Tsuda, 1973; Pearson, 1972). The resultant loss of hard coral cover on some reefs of the Great Barrier Reef was studied during the period of outbreak, and subsequently, so that both the short and long term effects of this predator would be known (Endean and Stablum, 1973; Pearson, 1981). The role of this predator in the elevation or lowering of coral species diversity on the Great Barrier Reef has not been studied adequately. It is apparent that some reefs become reinfested with Acanthaster planci about 15 years following the initial infestation (Cameron and Endean, 1982). It would appear, that when the quantity (not necessarily diversity) of a reef’s hard coral cover has regrown, the asteroid can recruit again in high numbers.

Although the Acanthaster planci population outbreak phenomenon has puzzled scientists for a quarter of a century, and although many explanatory hypotheses and models have been proposed (e.g. Birkeland, 1982; Endean, 1969; Flanigan and Lamberts, 1981; Randall, 1972; Sale, Potts and Frankel, 1976), there remains disagreement about the causes of the phenomenon. Additionally, there is disagreement about the need for reef management strategies that might mitigate the widespread effects of this coral predator. The extent of present population outbreaks and the possibility of past outbreaks (prior to 1960) have not been studied in sufficient detail to allow critical evaluation of either the problem itself, or the risks associated with incorrect management. We do not know what factors allow high recruitment of this asteroid on some reefs when, on other reefs, it maintains a low population density. The natural life expectancy, larval dispersal and adult migration of this asteroid, while central to an understanding of the phenomenon, are not understood sufficiently (Moore, 1978). The role of natural predators in maintaining high diversity and the possible survival strategy of rarity in the coral reef community have not been studied adequately.

Comparative data on other coral reef asteroids might contribute usefully to an understanding, or at least, enlarge our perspective of the Acanthaster planci outbreak phenomenon. With this broad aim in mind, the present study focuses on the community ecology of asteroid species at Heron Island. The population dynamics of other coral reef asteroids might show patterns of high recruitment similar to those of Acanthaster planci. The study of the abundance, longevity, population density, diet and reproduction of other coral reef asteroid species will allow comparison with Acanthaster planci as well as provide information on the mechanisms that maintain diversity within this coral reef community.

 

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6 thoughts on “CoTS and Code of Ethics for Researchers

  1. Background Report to PhD Proposal – Coral Reef Starfish

    The crown of thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) has stimulated much scientific research, and although many explanatory hypotheses have been proposed we do not understand why outbreaks of this starfish occur on some reefs while, on other nearby reefs, this starfish maintains a stable, low population density. The role of natural predators in maintaining high prey diversity, and the possible survival strategy of rarity in the coral reef community is unclear with respect to either starfish, their predators or their prey. The spatial distribution, population structure and fecundity of other starfish, while central to an understanding of these outbreaks, is not understood.

    The PhD study sought answers to the following questions:

    1. What starfish species are present at Heron Reef?
    2. What is the spatial pattern of each species?
    3. What is the population structure of each species?
    4. What is the reproductive mode of each species?
    5. Is the mean individual size stable for each species?
    6. How diverse is this community?

    Comparative data on these starfish might contribute usefully to an understanding of this outbreak phenomenon and with this broad aim in mind, the PhD study focused on Heron Reef which is a non-outbreaking reef at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. Factors that influence diversity and stability within the coral reef community should emerge when these results are compared with data from outbreaking reefs.

    The thesis titled “Life-History Strategies of Coral Reef Asteroids” was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Queensland on 5th December 1985. The central questions of the thesis were stated at the end of the introduction and the thesis to be defended was that on reefs where large-bodied starfish are uncommon they exist in a stable population structure with little recruitment.

    The thesis also suggested that:

    (1) there was little competition between starfish,
    (2) the starfish represented a recruitment-limited species assemblage,
    (3) high specificity at settlement was necessary for the survival of post-settlement juveniles, and
    (4) the ability to disperse widely was necessary for the survival of many starfish species.

    These propositions were consistent with the low density and patchy starfish distribution at Heron Reef but were clearly not conclusions derived logically from established facts. Both external examiners incorrectly believed that these suggestions were the thesis that was being defended.

    The student’s research had been supervised by Dr Endean of the Zoology Department. Although Dr Endean agreed that the thesis was in an appropriate form for submission, he commented on the submission of the thesis that “much more could have been made of the information obtained. For example, the candidate has failed to give adequate attention to the theoretical implications of the principal findings made”. Dr Endean stated further following the return of the examiner’s reports that “It is my belief that no additional field work by the candidate would be required as adequate data are available for a meaningful revision which would take into account the cogent comments made by all referees.”

    The extracts of the examiners’ reports which were fowarded to the Head of Department, Dr Endean and the student did not include Dr Yamaguchi’s comment that “there are considerable amount of data which should be treated more carefully and they would be strengthened by collecting additional information, so that the candidate should be encouraged to complete this work to be acceptable for the degree”. In addition, Prof Ebert stated that “The data do not directly address important problems of competition, recruitment or dispersal. What this means, I am suggesting, is that the thesis to be defended must be recast OR that additional data must be presented that address the defense of the thesis as it is stated”.

    The student had tutored in the Zoology Department for several years and under the conditions of appointment for tutorial staff approved by University Senate, no further tutorial appointment was possible beyond 1985. The student was ineligible for Tertiary Assistance and was required to pay student charges from which he had been exempt whilst employed as a tutor. Prior to the student’s notification that he was required to revise and resubmit his thesis within 12 months, he was employed full-time by Queensland University under a consultancy agreement between the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and UniQuest Ltd signed on 17-June-1986.

    The Consultancy Agreement specified that a Research Fellow (at least 6 years post-doctoral experience) and a Research Assistant be appointed to undertake the work. Although the University knew that the student was required to revise and resubmit his thesis within 12 months and although the student’s contract of employment was not finalized until 4-August-1986, the student commenced employment with the University on 26-June-1986 as a Research Officer. The student was advised that his thesis had not been approved on 7-July-1986 while the University had been aware of this fact since 17-June-1986.

    The Consultancy Agreement countained a clause which provided that “The Consultant, its employees or agents shall not disclose or make public any information or material acquired or produced in connection with or by the performance of the services without prior approval in writing of the Authority”.

    Dr Endean was one of the three Principal Investigators involved in the Consultancy which provided for the “study of crown of thorns starfish predators on or in the vicinity of reefs of the Great Barrier Reef”. Project execution involved “searching in areas of crown of thorns starfish aggregations for predators and instances of predation” as well as “enclosure and possibly aquarium studies of potential predators”. This student and another worked in the field.

    The Giant Triton (Charonia tritonis) is a well-known but rarely encountered predator of many species of starfish on the Great Barrier Reef. It was the only observed predator of adult starfish throughout the entire period of the students’ employment under the Consultancy Agreement. Both students believed that the triton was a voracious predator of starfish and that it occurred with a frequency much greater in regions of residual crown of thorns starfish outbreak than had been observed at Heron Reef.

    At John Brewer Reef, the triton’s aggregated spatial pattern and prey preference seemed sufficient to account for the observed reduction in adult crown of thorns starfish numbers within the area of residual starfish outbreak. If a similar sized but dispersed population of tritons occurred at Heron Reef it could easily have remained undetected but still be sufficient to explain the low abundance of starfish on that reef. John Brewer Reef was the only readily accessible reef that contained a residual population of crown of thorns starfish and the isolation of triton aggregations was a condition precedent to the establishment of a general triton census technique.

    Both students asserted that the triton was predominantly cryptic and that density estimates which were based on snorkel swims or manta surveys, rather than detailed scuba searches by skilled observers, would grossly underestimate the triton’s abundance and in particular fail to establish whether the triton aggregated in the vicinity of crown of thorns starfish aggregations. The establishment of this fact was relevant to the revision of the student’s thesis and to any survey technique agreement between UniQuest and the Authority because it was relevant to the expected correlation between starfish numbers and predator numbers.

    While a large-scaled negative correlation between starfish and predator abundance is predicted by the Predator Control Hypothesis, a medium-scale positive correlation will be predicted if predators aggregate in areas of prey aggregation. The observation of prey dispersion following unsuccessful predator attack and a further negative correlation between starfish and predator abundance on an even finer scale was proposed. This latter proposition and the implication of reduced starfish egg fertilization in dispersed starfish aggregations was raised by both students. There was great potential for confounded variables unless the degree of predator aggregation was determined prior to the establishment of a general predator census technique.

    These matters were a source of major contention between the students and Dr Endean and resulted in both students’ dismissal. All the relevant facts as well as any implications that were relevant to the execution of the Consultancy Agreement or might be relevant to the revision of the thesis were communicated to both Dr Endean and the Authority. There was a great conflict of interest between Dr Endean’s role as PhD supervisor and his role as a Principal Investigator under the Consultancy Agreement. The Authority was aware of this conflict of interest.

    In a letter addressed to Theses Section 31-March-1987 the student requested an extension of time for submission as well as an exemption from administrative fees to allow resubmission. This letter was stamped by Records Section on 7-April-1987 but no reply was received by the student and he assumed that an extension of time for resubmission and the granting of fee exemption had not been immediately approved. Under a recent Freedom of Information request the student discovered that the University’s response had been greatly delayed and consequently was not delivered to the student.

    When the students’ employment was terminated by the University the students were overpaid due to an error on the part of the University. The University initiated legal proceedings to recover this overpayment even though it was a direct and forseeable consequence of the University’s own negligence. It was only when the University received legal advise that the students were likely to succeed in their countersuit that the legal proceedings were dropped by the University. As a consequence of this litigation any possibility of a reconciliation between the students and Dr Endean was impossible. The student believes that this animosity still continues. Dr Endean has now retired.

    The student notified the University that he wished to revise and resubmit his thesis and the letter of 31-Mar-1987 is prima facie evidence of this fact. There has been a considerable delay in applying for reenrolment and the student agrees that the nature of the revision could be quite extensive but is prepared to give full consideration to all cogent comments. With respect to the delay in reenrolment, the student submits that it is relevant that the University maintained contact with him throughout the extensive period of litigation but did not respond to his letter of 31-Mar-1987 regarding revision of his thesis. An equitable remedy is being sought that includes a supervised project incorporating much of the previous work.

    The student will comply with the conditions expressed in the University’s undelivered letter of 7-July-1987 regarding reenrolment and any further requirements of the Post-Graduate Studies Committee. The student knows that it is necessary to obtain a new supervisor before the nature of the revision can be finalised. The student is presently seeking a supervisor for the project and will advise when he has found supervision that complies with the PhD rule requirements.

    J.C.Paterson – Semester 1, 1993.

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    1. With respect to the specific points raised by Dr Yamaguchi in his examiners report, the candidate is unclear as to whether Dr Yamaguchi’s words “may be considered” conveys the intention “should or shall be considered” with respect to revision of the thesis. All of the substantial matters raised by Dr Yamaguchi were considered by the candidate but perhaps they have been given lesser consideration than Dr Yamaguchi would wish.

      The candidate wishes to address the specific points raised by Dr Yamaguchi with the purpose of clarifying the issues involved and isolating relevant criticisms from what may merely be differing personal sentiments. Before addressing these numbered points systematically, the candidate wishes to draw the Committee’s attention to the opening lines of Dr Yamaguchi’s detailed report:

      “This thesis is largely descriptive with many speculations not supported by observations or established ideas … there is almost no new information which may contribute to the advancement of scientific thought”.

      It is possible that Dr Yamaguchi has identified with a philosophy and been offended by views expressed by the candidate in the introduction of the thesis. The candidate would wish to clarify that the philosophic matters were not directed specifically at Dr Yamaguchi and would wish to leave personal sentiments out of the examination process and to concentrate on science.

      1. Regarding “community” and “species assemblage”.

      The candidate agrees with Dr Yamaguchi that the term “species assemblage” is the correct term for the set of species within a certain taxa that occur at a locality such as Heron Reef. However, while the candidate’s failure to adequately distinguish between the set of coral reef asteroids found at Heron Reef and the set of taxa which constitute the coral reef is a potential source of confusion when the word “community” is used for both sets, the meaning should to some extent be conveyed by the context in which the word was used in the discussion and the candidate fails to understand why Dr Yamaguchi was unable to make any sense whatsoever out of the discussion at the conclusion of chapter 11. The candidate feels that it will be necessary to distinguish further the set of coral reef asteroid species which have ever been located anywhere within the tropical Indo-West Pacific region as this set has also been referred to as the “coral reef asteroid community” in this and other chapters of the thesis.

      2. Regarding feeding habits and food qualities.

      The candidate wishes to clarify that the feeding habits of “felt-feeding” asteroids were observed in the field with the purpose of establishing a prey preference for conspicuous reef organisms whose patterns of abundance might either effect or reflect asteroid abundance. It was beyond the scope of this study to undertake deep investigations of microscopic food quality and this was clearly stated in the relevant chapter on diet and microhabitat.

      The candidate maintains that the paradigm of “resource limitation” is virtually infinite being not limited merely to food resources but potentially including any necessary ecological requirement. With respect to the recruitment of these asteroids, the candidate suggested that there may be specific sites at which the survival of post-settlement stages is enhanced and would submit that discussion of such matters is not precluded by either the absence of detailed data on food partitioning or by the absence of conclusive results with respect to inter-specific competition.

      The candidate submits that whether or not food partitioning or inter-specific competition occurs is a question of fact and irrespective of the depth of investigation this fact may or may not be established correctly. The candidate submits that the question of whether alternate explanations are consistent with the available evidence is a question of law and the distinction must always be made between finding the facts and deciding the law. It is a foundation principle of both modern science and law that discussion of alternative explanations cannot be limited arbitrarily without the due process being misdirected. Such matters were stressed in the introduction of the thesis.

      3. Regarding the thesis to be defended.

      The candidate agrees with Dr Yamaguchi that the frequency of feeding activities, nutritional value of the felt, size and type of stomach are all very important in relation to energy budgets but this was never one of the main points in the thesis. The aims of the research were outlined at the conclusion of the introductory chapter but there still seems to be a general misunderstanding of the thesis that was being defended. The major findings are that some species existed in stable size and abundance structures and that some areas on Heron Reef had low numbers of starfish compared with others. The thesis to be defended was that on reefs where large-bodied starfish are uncommon they exist in a stable population structure with little recruitment. To place the data collection and analysis in perspective, it must be remembered that the large scale of sampling was determined by the relatively low abundance of starfish at Heron Reef compared to outbreaking reefs.

      The candidate wishes to stress that a number of propositions were advanced in discussion as explanations of the available evidence. The proposition that there may be specific sites for better survival of post-settlement juveniles was never an assumption from which the lack of recruitment to the adult dominated populations was concluded. On the contrary, it is submitted that the case for lack of recruitment is sustained by empiric support not by logical conclusion. The proposition was one of fact which may or may not be true, but it was not the thesis that was being defended.

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  2. Coral Reef Asteroidea (PhD Proposal) – John Paterson 7/93

    Introduction

    Outbreaks of the crown of thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) have been studied for many years throughout the Indo-West Pacific region (Moran, 1986) and although many explanatory hypotheses have been proposed we do not understand why outbreaks of this starfish occur on some reefs while, on other nearby reefs, this starfish maintains a stable, low population density. The spatial distribution, population structure and fecundity of other starfish, while central to an understanding of these outbreaks, is also not understood. On the Great Barrier Reef and elsewhere, most starfish research has centred on establishing the scale of Acanthaster outbreaks and the effect of Acanthaster predation on the coral reef community.

    Endean (1969) proposed that predation on starfish plays an important role in starfish population stability and discussed the possible causes of Acanthaster outbreaks with particular emphasis on the removal by humans of the predators of adult and juvenile starfish. While it is recognised that predation can determine the spatial patterns of natural communities (Paine, 1966; Janzen, 1970; Connell, 1971) and can represent powerful selective pressure in the evolution of prey adaptation (Schmitt, 1982), the role of natural predators in maintaining high prey diversity, and the possible survival strategy of rarity in the coral reef community is unclear with respect to either starfish, their predators or their prey.

    Proposal

    This submission is to be read in conjunction with its background report which details the candidate’s history of research and employment with the University of Queensland. The candidate proposes to complete a supervised project that will incorporate much of the previous work.

    Comparative distribution and reproductive data on many starfish species may assist the understanding of this outbreak phenomenon and factors that influence diversity and stability within the coral reef community may emerge when these results are compared with data from outbreaking reefs. With this broad aim in mind, the doctoral study focused on Heron Reef and sought answers to the following questions:

    1. What starfish species are present at Heron Reef?

    2. What is the spatial pattern of each species?

    3. What is the population structure of each species?

    4. What is the reproductive mode of each species?

    5. Is the mean individual size stable for each species?

    6. How diverse is this community?
    The thesis to be defended was that on reefs where large-bodied starfish are uncommon they exist in a stable population structure with little recruitment. The thesis conjectured matters that were consistent with the observed low density and patchy starfish distribution at Heron Reef, for example:

    (1) there was little competition between starfish,

    (2) the starfish represented a recruitment-limited species assemblage,

    (3) high specificity at settlement was necessary for the survival of post-settlement juveniles, and

    (4) the ability to disperse widely was necessary for the survival of many starfish species.

    The following results and methods sections of the previously submitted thesis were not the source of major comments by examiners and apart from the necessity to ensure that the present species assemblage is comparable, these sections are considered substantially complete:

    1. Asteroid species present.

    2. Abundance of each species.

    3. Size distribution of more common species.

    4. Reproductive mode of each species.

    5. Stability of mean size of more common species.

    It is suggested that these sections be included in any new thesis and that greater graphical representation be used to clarify the data. Data that was previously in the thesis appendix should be presented in the body of the thesis to prevent confusion over authorship. Interpretation of results, particularly with respect to abundance, must be carefully undertaken as most species of starfish were much less abundant on Heron Reef than on outbreaking reefs. Clarification of the objectives pertaining to these sections is necessary to reconcile the comments made by previous examiners and the thesis to be defended will need to be more clearly stated.

    It is suggested that these sections be augmented by data that address basic questions that arise from the previous work. For reasons of logistics, the important problems of competition, recruitment and dispersal to which Prof Ebert (examiner) has alluded in his report cannot be directly addressed by a post-graduate thesis that encompasses this whole species assemblage, and further, the propositions to which Prof Ebert refers in his comments were not the thesis that was being defended.

    1. Is population aggregation constant for each species?

    The spatial scale at which the individual environment is essentially homogeneous must be distinguished clearly from the larger scale mosaic that is often more conspicuous to the observer. Patches may appear as scattered, homogeneous regions at this smaller scale with the spatial distribution of a species being an indication of resource and predator heterogeneity at the relevant scale. The scale of observation is critical to the determination of spatial distribution pattern and differing scales of analysis can produce apparently differing results even on the same data. The properties or parameters that emerge from studies of communities can be dependent on which scale of organisation, space or time is chosen (Bradbury and Reichelt, 1982).

    If the scale of observation is such that individuals would be expected to be distributed randomly throughout habitats which themselves are distributed randomly in space, then the expected distribution of individuals in space will be clumped, not random. Populations whose individuals are not expected to be distributed at random provide several logistic difficulties when sampled and density estimates of these aggregated populations can underestimate the standard error of the mean. Failure to determine accurately the extent of the tail in a positively skewed distribution results in both poor predictability and poor repeatability. Population density estimates of non random species are credible only when the extent of the positive tail of the distribution has been determined adequately.

    For each species within this asteroid assemblage, population aggregation may vary either spatially (from one location to another) or temporally (over time at any one location) and the distribution of individuals of each species in any assemblage has always been of great interest to ecologists. If there is an equal probability of an individual’s occurrence at each point within the distribution of its species then individuals of that species will be distributed at random but by admission of the fact that no species occur everywhere with equal probability we assume spatial non randomness. When we attribute either the geographical range of a species or its abundance within that range to physical or biological requirements rather than to chance then non-randomness of its spatial distribution is implied.

    The relative abundance of species in any diverse assemblage is uneven and the distribution of abundances of all species is referred to as diversity. Many different mathematical models have been proposed to describe this species abundance distribution and each model has been criticised extensively (e.g. Abbott, 1983; Connor and McCoy, 1979; Connor, McCoy and Cosby, 1983; Martin, 1981; McGuiness, 1984; Pielou, 1981; Sughihari, 1981). Some maintain that rarity is an artefact of inappropriate sampling but relative abundance is often distributed widely over many orders of magnitude.

    The total species pool of which the assemblage is a sub-set and the total number of individuals are both finite for any assemblage and will represent a dynamic balance of recruitment and mortality. Given these assumptions the selective process must result in some of the species being rare in any high diversity environment and any qualitative representation of abundance such as common, moderate or rare must be arbitrary in its assignment. In addition to the high diversity of the coral reef community, an unusual aspect is the large number of rare species within each taxanomic group. It is not known whether a species’ rarity implies its low competitive ability or alternately whether it is restricted to specialised microhabitats and excess recruitment is pruned by predators throughout the remaining area (Hairston, 1959).

    Some of the rarer species of coral reef asteroid are known only from their holotype or perhaps one or two paratypes and appear to exist at population densities which defy our normal understanding of population dynamics and reproductive strategies. It is not clear how these species survive and which if any ecological requirements or constraints limit their distribution or abundance. It is not known whether these species are rare because their necessary and sufficient ecological requirements are met at only a small number of points or alternately whether their rarity is a result of predation.

    Recruitment and subsequent survival to reproduction must occur at some points within the distribution of each species unless we are observing the process of extinction. Considering both the number of species involved and the fact that species such as Tosia queenslandensis, Ophidiaster lioderma and Tegulaster emburyi are considered rare throughout their geographical range, these species must demonstrate physical or behavioural attributes which are adaptations to existance in low density populations. The question of specialised rare species playing a key role in ecosystem modulation should not be ignored, along with specialised predation or competition among rare species (Levins and Culver, 1971).

    Any assumption of a species abundance indicating its successfulness or adaptedness should be questioned and the concept of species adapted to live in sparse populations offered as partial explanation of the high diversity in many communities. The influence of specific predation can result in the rarity of a species and adaptations to this might represent a viable survival strategy (Connell, 1970). Spawning aggregations, extended gamete survival and high gamete specificity, hermaphroditism, parthenogenicity and asexual reproduction are all ways of ensuring continuity of offspring in rare species. Certain very specialised species might occur only at a certain resource optimum and their populations will be limited to the number of these sites of optimum habitat. Specialisation and decreased abundance may go hand in hand in a complex ecosystem where predation and competition prohibits resource monopolisation.

    It is not known to what extent population fluctuations are normal on coral reefs, but the overall impression is one of relative stability compared with the fluctuations that occur in temperate ecosystems. The non cyclic productivity of tropical ecosystems might stabilise resources and allow greater specialisation and stability in species abundance (Pianka, 1966). The possibility of variation in the abundance of species from reef to reef exists. This would be more noticeable if reefs maintain semi closed circulation. Numbers of one species may build up by local recruitment if larvae recruit back into the parent population. Asexual reproduction following a sexual recruitment (Ottesen and Lucas, 1982; Yamaguchi and Lucas, 1984) may be the reason for the greatly different abundances of all asexually reproducing species at different places on the same reef.

    The distribution of the species within the general reef habitat has been studied at several different spatial scales. The physical, biological and historical parameters that explain the distribution on the global scale (Clark and Rowe, 1971) will not be directly applicable to an understanding of between habitat abundance variation within the community when studied on the much smaller scale of a single reef. The small scale distribution of Linckia laevigata on the fringing reef at Guam, and some factors which determine this species’ abundance in different habitats, were described by Strong (1975). Thompson and Thompson (1982) studied the distribution and movements of Linckia laevigata at Lizard Island. The habitat preferences and specificities of the different species, and the contribution of these aspects of niche specialisation to the co existence of the species in the coral reef asteroid community have not been studied previously.

    For the relatively abundant species Disasterina abnormalis data is presented in Table 5, page 34 of the thesis that suggest that population aggregation varies both spatially and temporally. The data suggest that in the relevant area aggregation can vary temporally while the abundance is unaltered.

    2. If variation in population aggregation results in significant changes in individual spacing then is it significant in the regulation of recruitment?

    Ormond et al. (1973) discussed the consequences of spawning aggregations of Acanthaster and suggested that the increased proximity of adult starfish may enhance the chances of fertilisation, especially if synchronous spawning takes place. Further, they suggested that the population density of Acanthaster at which aggregation into groups begins may constitute a threshold beyond which a population explosion (outbreak) is likely to occur. Populations of all species of starfish will be sensitive to changes which result in densities in the region of this threshold.

    It was suggested by Beach (1975) and Lucas (1984) that a conspecific stimulus would induce synchronous spawning in Acanthaster planci and a delayed spawning activity in dispersed individuals of Acanthaster planci was observed by Okaji (1991). It was suggested that this delay reflected less frequent stimulus from conspecifics in dispersed compared with aggregated populations and that synchronous spawning induced by such stimulus would lead to higher rates of fertilisation when the animals formed an aggregation.

    The effect of sperm dilution, adult aggregation and synchronous spawning upon the fertilisation of sea urchin eggs was reported by Pennington (1985). Pennington concluded that significant fertilisation occurred only when spawning individuals are closer than a few metres. The consequences of water mixing and sperm dilution for species that undergo external fertilisation were discussed by Denny and Shibata (1989) who found that only a small fraction of ova were fertilised other than in densely packed arrays. They commented that the low effectiveness of external fertilisation may change the way one views the planktonic portion of such life cycles and suggested that this could serve as a potent selective factor.

    Most of the asteroid species at Heron Reef occurred at a density sufficiently low that the mean individual spacing, if random, might effectively preclude egg fertilisation. For the rarer sexually reproducing species it is apparent that the occurrence of an opposite sexed conspecific within the effective fertilisation distance is a condition precedent to successful reproduction and the degree of success may be strongly dependent on just how close the rare spawning individuals are to each other. This is considered to be of fundamental importance to starfish fertilisation success at spawning under high mixing conditions because at low starfish density, the degree of egg fertilisation would be expected to be inversely proportional to the cube of the distance between opposite sexed spawning individuals.

    Babcock and Mundy (1992) obtained high rates of “field” fertilisation of Acanthaster planci eggs in experimental trials involving the passing of samples (dilute egg/sperm mixtures) through a filter cartridge (62 micrometer plankton mesh) and then recording the percent of eggs that were fertilised in each sample. Babcock and Mundy concluded that the observed high rate of fertilisation was almost two orders of magnitude greater than those demonstrated for other marine organisms and suggested that the reason for this difference appears most likely to lie in the numbers of gametes released by these animals. In the final sentence Babcock and Mundy state “The sheer volume of gametes produced by A. planci not only means that there are a large number of potential offspring, it also ensures that there is a relatively high probability of fertilisation even when individuals are widely separated.”

    Paterson (1990) and Paterson and Poulsen (1986-1989) suggested in a series of reports to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority that the degree of fertilisation success in Acanthaster planci populations will be heavily dependent on the spacing between spawning individuals. Paterson and Poulsen suggested further that the foraging behaviour of Charonia tritonis caused increased spacing between individuals of Acanthaster planci by dispersing small aggregations and consequently reduced the fertilisation success of the Acanthaster planci population.

    Central to the reasoning of Paterson and Poulsen is the proposition that fertilisation success of Acanthaster planci is an inverse power function of the distance between spawning individuals. That is to say that as we double the distance between male and female starfish we reduce the probability of egg fertilisation by somewhere between the square and the cube of this distance. The power of the function will be determined by the degree of gamete dispersal into more than two dimensions which will depend on the depth of the water, the degree of turbulence, as well as the buoyant nature of the gametes.

    In an attempt to clarify the extraordinary results of Babcock and Mundy, it is planned to repeat their methodology for a series of artificial egg/sperm dilutions in each of a number of asteroid species. The results of filter cartridge fertilisation will be compared with results obtained by directly fixing each sample aquaria. It is suspected that the passing of dilute sperm through the filter cartridges in Babcock and Mundy’s experiment, while the eggs were held stationary in the flow by the 62 micrometer mesh resulted in artificially elevated fertilisation rates. This mode of elevating otherwise low fertilisation success would appear to be similar to that used by asteroid species within the family Pterasteriidae where the eggs are retained within a supradorsal membrane while sea water is periodically pumped over the stationary eggs.

    3. If population aggregation varies over time for each or any particular species, what factors cause this variation?

    High population densities of starfish have been observed in many studies of temperate communities and some starfish species are of economic significance as predators of commercial shellfish. In temperate studies of starfish it is usual to regard the starfish as the predator and a mollusc as the prey, with the molluscan escape response being well documented (Kohn, 1961; Schmitt, 1982), and amongst motile benthic invertebrates, the classic defence against predation (Feder, 1963; Ansell, 1969; Phillips, 1976).

    Bullock (1953) found that gastropods were located in the same area but usually not close to predatory sea stars and Kohn (1961) suggested that escape responses have a role in determining distribution patterns in nature. The cannibalistic starfish Meyenaster gelatinosus demonstrates a well developed escape response when contact is made with conspecifics (Dayton et al, 1977) and this response includes the autotomization of arms. Jost (1979) suggested that predator avoidance could account for an observed negative correlation between one species of starfish and its prey while another starfish species showed a positive correlation with the same prey species. In two species of subtidal gastropod, the role of this defence was closely examined by Schmitt (1982) who found that the presence of predatory starfish could trigger the migration of their prey and Schmitt concluded that prey defence can play a central role in determining patterns of prey distribution and abundance.

    The giant triton (Charonia tritonis) and other members of the genus Charonia are known predators of many species of starfish (Chesher, 1969; Endean, 1969; Laxton, 1971; Noguchi et al., 1982; Percharde, 1972) but there are few examples of other species predominantly preying on starfish (Harrold and Pearse, 1987) with the possible exception of other starfish (Birkeland et al, 1982; Dayton et al, 1977; Mauzey et al, 1968). Chesher noted that Charonia tritonis can detect and actively seek out its prey and when contact is made Acanthaster planci recognises the predator and moved away rapidly. Endean did not observe such avoidance reaction by Acanthaster to the presence of Charonia. Paterson and Poulsen (1986) demonstrated a strong avoidance reaction by Acanthaster when one of its sensory tentacle makes physical contact with the body of Charonia.

    Percharde described the attack of the Caribbean triton (Charonia tritonis variegata) upon a breeding aggregation of the starfish Echinaster sentus and concluded that this mollusc plays an important role in the ecological balance of extensive areas of its habitat.

    4. In the asexually reproducing species, is autotomy a spontaneous reproductive mechanism or a consequence of disturbance or predatory attack?

    A high to low latitudinal increase in gastropod anti-predatory structures was found by Vermeij (1978). Blake (1983) suggested the existence of a similar pattern in sea stars and Cameron and Endean (1982) discussed the role of venomous devices and toxins as defences against predation. Blake commented that the asteroid fauna of the Indo-West Pacific are dominated by the order Valvatida and members of this order have the best developed anti-predatory devices. Yamaguchi (1975) commented on the difference between adult and juvenile asteroid habits and suggested that the heavy armour of exposed adult asteroids might reflect “heavy predation pressure, presumably by fish” (emphasis added). Other structures that provide protection from predation include the venomous spines of Acanthaster (Blake, 1983; Endean, 1969), and the pedicellaria which are highly diverse, that distinguish the phylum Echinodermata.

    In addition to structural protection, many species of starfish reduce predation by the possession of skin toxins (Riccio et al., 1982, 1985; Gorshkov et al., 1982; Minale et al., 1984) and these have been shown to be toxic to some fish species (Rideout, 1975). Riccio et al. examined the steroidal glycosides present in the starfish Linckia laevigata and Echinaster luzonicus and Gorshkov et al studied the effect of marine glycosides on ATPase activity.

    The role of echinoderm toxins as a defence against predation has been discussed extensively (Bakus, 1974; Green, 1977). It has been proposed that the production of toxins for defence incurs an energy cost which is balanced against the probability of mortality (Eckardt, 1974) but in some species, toxins might be metabolic by products that incur no energy cost in their synthesis. The results of Noguchi et al. (1982) where tetrodotoxin from Astropecten polyacanthus caused the toxification of Charonia sauliae and the fact that toxic starfish species are regularly preyed upon by Charonia tritonis (Endean, 1968; Chesher, 1969; Percharde, 1972) demonstrate that this gastropod genus is unaffected by some of the toxins present in starfish.

    In some groups of starfish behavioural mechanisms are used as defences against predation and within the order Paxillosida two important tropical exceptions from the generally armoured rule, that of Astropecten and Luidia, were distinguished and discussed by Blake (1983). It was suggested that both genera had broad open ambulacral furrows because they were predators on active solitary forms where increased skeletal mobility was essential. Because both these active, hunting genera live on and within unconsolidated sediment they avoid predation by burrowing and this is facilitated by the paxillose nature of their aboral surface.

    Another behavioural defense in asteroids is the autotomy of arms and some species can regenerate complete starfish from a section of one arm. Cameron and Endean (1982) suggested that autotomy is an adaption to predation and Aldrich (1976) noted for Asterias forbesi that autotomy occurred readily in response to attack by a decapod crustacean. Birkeland et al (1982) obtained similar results in their study of asteroid predatory interactions. A number of tropical and temperate asteroids are known to undergo regular autotomy (Rideout, 1978; Yamaguchi, 1975) and Blake (1983) commented that interpretation of the skeleton can be difficult as it has more than one function and protection against predation can be accomplished by many mechanisms.

    For the relatively abundant species Echinaster luzonicus data is presented in Figures 4 and 5, pages 53 and 54 of the thesis that suggests that the level of autotomy in the population is not constant and that the mean individual size undergoes corresponding variation between periods of autotomy.

    5. Are localised sites of (a) high autotomy frequency, (b) starfish behavioural patterns such as intertwining in substrate and in the extreme case (c) no starfish objective indica of predator density?

    Laxton (1971) stated that the New Zealand species of Charonia preys upon the most common large echinoderm in the area but if a choice is offered, Charonia from all habitats prefer the cushion star Patiriella regularis followed closely by Coscinasterias calamaria. While Charonia has been collected by humans for our entire recorded history, it is difficult to determine the extent to which its abundance has been reduced by human activities but it has generally been regarded as not common on the Great Barrier Reef.

    On the Great Barrier Reef the preferred prey of Charonia tritonis appears to vary and Endean (1969) stated that it was an unspecified species of Nardoa. Recent observations of Charonia behaviour (Paterson and Poulsen, 1986-1989) demonstrated a well developed escape response by Acanthaster planci to the presence of Charonia tritonis and suggested that the correct prey preference of Charonia on the Great Barrier Reef may be Acanthaster. These results confirmed the observations of Endean that on outbreaking reefs, Acanthaster planci is the predominant prey of Charonia tritonis. Aquarium studies also confirmed that Acanthaster can be actively hunted by Charonia to the point of local extinction despite the presence of other, less mobile starfish genera, including Nardoa and Linckia.

    The high mobility of species such as Acanthaster planci and Coscinasterias calamaria may result in large specimens of these species escaping complete predation and their survival following predator attack may result in confusion between prey preference and prey capture. If this is true it will require a reappraisal of the results of Endean (1969) and Laxton (1971) with respect to the prey preference of Charonia. It is necessary to distinguish clearly between starfish species that attract Charonia and which it prefers to consume and alternately starfish species that are sufficiently slow moving that Charonia capture and consume them regularly.

    It is suggested that this distinction is relevant to the mechanism that regulates Acanthaster and Coscinasterias numbers when their populations are at low density. The ability of Charonia to regulate low population numbers of Acanthaster is dependent on its ability to locate and attack aggregations of Acanthaster even when this starfish is less common than other genera such as Linckia and Nardoa. This would also be true with respect to predation of Coscinasterias and Patiriella. The effectiveness of predation or dispersal as a means of starfish population regulation will be less dependent on the feeding rate and more dependent on the prey preference of Charonia when the starfish are at low population density.

    Recent data (Paterson and Poulsen, 1986-1989) suggest that Charonia tritonis may aggregate in regions of an outbreaking reef that contain the greatest Acanthaster planci abundance during the post-outbreak phase. It was suggested that such aggregation could result from either a direct attraction of the predator to its prey or alternately increased predator activity when food is scarce. The activity of the predatory starfish Astropecten aranciacus is known to depend on prey density (Ribi and Jost, 1978). Because Charonia tritonis is predominantly cryptic, it is extremely likely that a cursory examination of a reef will greatly underestimate its abundance and before an accurate estimate of the abundance of Charonia can be made on either a non-outbreaking reef such as Heron Reef or an outbreaking reef such as John Brewer Reef, it is necessary to establish whether Charonia aggregates. If aggregations occur in the vicinity of Acanthaster or other starfish aggregations then density estimates of Charonia must be stratified with respect to this variable because it is relevant to an expected non-random distribution of Charonia numbers.

    While a large-scaled negative correlation between Acanthaster and Charonia abundance is predicted by the Predator Control Hypothesis (Endean, 1969), a medium-scale positive correlation will be predicted if Charonia aggregate in areas of Acanthaster aggregation. The observation of Acanthaster escape following Charonia attack would imply a further negative correlation between Acanthaster and Charonia on an even finer scale.

    Charonia has the potential to play a significant ecological role in low density population dynamics of starfish by direct predation on juvenile and adult starfish and by limiting the aggregation of starfish prior to spawning and thereby limiting egg fertilisation and subsequent outbreak potential.

    At John Brewer Reef between 1986 and 1988, the prey preference and aggregated spatial pattern of Charonia tritonis seemed sufficient to account for the observed reduction in Acanthaster planci numbers within the relatively small area of residual starfish outbreak. It is possible that a similar sized but dispersed population of Charonia at Heron Reef could remain undetected but be sufficient to explain the low abundance of all starfish species on that reef.

    The low abundance of all large-bodied species of starfish on Heron Reef (Paterson, 1985) and other non-outbreaking reefs (Paterson, 1990) is in contrast to data from outbreaking reefs (Paterson and Poulsen, 1986-89), and supports the suggestion of Laxton (1974) that on outbreaking reefs, the abundance of other species of starfish decline during the period between outbreaks of Acanthaster planci. It is suggested that high general starfish abundance at the end of the recovery phase of an outbreaking reef may indicate primary outbreak preconditions and be related to low Charonia abundance.

    6. Do some predators of starfish commence life as an obligate parasite?

    Parasitism of starfish by gastropods is well known and some populations of starfish contain a high incidence of infestation (Bouillon and Jangoux, 1985; Davis, 1967; Elder, 1979). Although Elder (1979) studied the interaction between Thyca crystallina and its host Linckia laevigata and the incidence of infestation has been examined by Bouillon and Jangoux (1985), other small as well as large gastropods are known to feed on starfish. Stylifer linckiae is known to parasitise Linckia multifora and large gastropods such as Charonia tritonis and Bursa lampas are known to be predators of species of Linckia, Nardoa and Acanthaster (Endean, 1969; Thomassin, 1976; Vine, 1970).

    The extent of the effects of parasitism is largely unknown but the results of Davis (1967) suggest that autotomy is suppressed in infested specimens of asexual species such as Linckia multifora. It was suggested by Davis (1967) that recently autotomised arms may initiate parasite settlement. At Guam, the results of Rideout (1978) demonstrate that asexual reproduction by means of autotomy is the principal means of population maintenance in Linckia multifora. At Heron Reef, the incidence of infestation by obvious gastropod parasites was low, except in Linckia multifora and Ophidiaster granifer. Bouillon and Jangoux (1985) recorded a high proportion of Linckia laevigata infested by Thyca crystallina, but this did not occur during the thesis study at Heron Reef.

    During the post-outbreak phase at John Brewer Reef in 1988 when residual Acanthaster numbers were declining rapidly as a result of predation by Charonia, an unidentified species of small gastropod was found feeding through both the oral spines and ambulacral groove in two specimens of Echinaster luzonicus. One starfish had two parasites. The mode of infestation of the three gastropods was different to that of Stylifer linckiae in which the parasite gradually embeds further and further within the arm of the starfish. In these unidentified specimens, the gastropod was firmly attached by means of its greatly extended proboscis but in all other visible respects the parasite appeared to be a small shell crawling on the oral surface of the starfish. The small gastropods (2-3 mm in length) had not formed any varices and were bright white in colour resembling a protoconch rather than a parasitic Eulimid.

    Although the larval protoconch of Charonia tritonis has been described (Toscano and Cretella, 1991), early settlement stages of Charonia tritonis are unknown. The manner of egg laying and protection of the egg mass has been studied in Charonia tritonis and the benthic and planktonic development of the larval stage has been followed for several months. Attempts to induce settlement of the final larval stage has consistently met with failure as the supplied settlement media have invariably failed to induce settlement and the reared larva have died while still planktonic.

    The results of Davis (1967) suggest that the settlement of Stylifer linckiae may be related to the detection by the larval gastropod of regions of the starfish Linckia multifora where fresh epidermal injury has occurred such as following the autotomy of a limb. The gastropod Stylifer linckiae appears to require a region of broken starfish epidermis to allow settlement of the gastropod larva and subsequent infestation of the starfish. The small, unidentified gastropod parasites of Echinaster luzonicus that were found on John Brewer Reef were not in any way embedded in the skin of the starfish but were crawling on its surface in a region of no apparent injury.

    Large numbers of Charonia larvae have been described in plankton samples but it seems likely that a specific settlement cue is required before larval Charonia will undergo this final development stage. Given the results of Davis (1967) and the general advantage of settlement in the vicinity of food, it would be highly advantageous that this settlement cue be provided by one or more of the many asteroid skin chemicals and settlement in Charonia might be delayed until the larvae encounters the particular host/prey species that facilitates settlement. It is suggested that settlement in Charonia is directly onto the skin epithelium of certain asteroids and that immediate post-settlement stages of Charonia are parasitic and will be most readily located attached to their host asteroid species.

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    A preliminary study of the biology and ecology of the blue starfish Linckia laevigata (L) on the Australian Great Barrier Reef and an interpretation of its role in the coral reef ecosystem. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 6: 47 64.

    Mauzey,K.P., C.Birkeland and P.K.Dayton 1968.
    Feeding behaviour of asteroids and escape responses of their prey in the Puget Sound region. Ecology 49: 603-619.

    Minale,L., Pizza,C., Riccio,R., Zollo,F., Pusset,J. and P.Laboute 1984. Starfish saponins 13. Occurrence of nodososide in the starfish Acanthaster planci and Linckia laevigata.
    J. Nat. Prod. 47(3): 558.

    Moran, P. 1986.
    The Acanthaster phenomenon.
    Oceanogr. Mar. Biol. Ann. Rev. 24: 379 480.

    Noguchi et al. 1982.
    Tetrodotoxin in the starfish Astropecten polyacanthus in association with toxification of a trumpet shell, “Boshubora” Charonia sauliae. Bull. Jap. Soc. Sci. Fish. 48: 1173 1177.

    Okaji,K. 1991.
    Delayed spawning activity in dispersed individuals of Acanthaster planci in Okinawa. Biology of the Echinodermata, Yanagisawa, Yasumasu, Suzuki and Motokawa (eds) Balkema, Rotterdam.

    Ormond, R. et al. 1973.
    Formation and breakdown of aggregations of the crown of thorns starfish, Acanthaster planci (L). Nature 246: 167 169.

    Paine,R.T. 1966.
    Food web complexity and species diversity. Am. Nat. 100: 65-75.

    Paterson, J.C. 1985.
    Unpublished, submitted PhD thesis
    Life-history strategies of coral reef asteroids
    University of Queensland.

    Paterson, J.C. 1990.
    Preliminary survey of Giant Triton (Charonia tritonis) on selected reefs in the Cairns Region (Hastings, Saxon, Norman reefs) during January 1990. Final report to GBRMPA, April 1990.

    Paterson, J.C. and A.L.Poulsen 1986-89.
    Unpublished reports to GBRMPA, 1986, 1988a, 1988b, 1989.

    Pennington, J.T. 1985.
    The ecology of fertilisation of echinoid eggs: the consequences of sperm dilution, adult aggregation, and synchronous spawning. Biol. Bull. 169: 417 430.

    Percharde, P.L. 1972.
    Observations on the gastropod Charonia variegata, in Trinidad and Tobago. Nautilus, Philad. 85: 84 92.

    Phillips,D.W. 1976.
    The effect of a species-specific avoidance response to predatory starfish on the intertidal distribution of two gastropods. Oecologia (Berlin) 23: 83-94.

    Ribi, G. and P.Jost, 1978.
    Feeding rate and duration of daily activity of Astropecten aranciacus (Echinodermata: Asteroidea) in relation to prey density. Marine Biology 45: 249-254.

    Riccio,R., Dini,A., Minale,L., Pizza,C., Zollo,F. and T.Sevenet 1982. Starfish saponins VII. Structure of luzonicoside, a further steroidal cyclic glycoside from the Pacific starfish Echinaster luzonicus.
    Experimentia (Basel) 38: 68 70.

    Riccio,R., Greco,O.S., Minale,L., Pusset,J. and J.L.Menou 1985. Starfish saponins 18. Steroidal glycoside sulphates from the starfish Linckia laevigata. J. Nat. Prod. 48(1): 97 101.

    Rideout,R.S. 1975.
    Toxicity of the asteroid Linckia laevigata (L.) to the damselfish Dascyllus aruanus (L.). Micronesica 11(1): 153 154.

    Rideout,R.S. 1978. Asexual reproduction as a means of population maintenance in the coral reef asteroid Linckia multifora on Guam. Mar. Biol. 47(3): 287 296.

    Schmitt,R.J. 1982.
    Consequences of dissimilar defences against predation in a subtidal marine community. Ecology 63(5): 1588-1601.

    Thomassin,B.A. 1976.
    The feeding behaviour of the felt , sponge , and coral feeding sea stars, mainly Culcita schmideliana.
    Helg. wiss. Meeres. 28:51 65.

    Vine,P.J. 1970.
    Field and laboratory observations on the crown of thorns starfish, Acanthaster planci. Nature 228: 341 342.

    Background Report to PhD Proposal – Coral Reef Starfish

    The crown of thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) has stimulated much scientific research, and although many explanatory hypotheses have been proposed we do not understand why outbreaks of this starfish occur on some reefs while, on other nearby reefs, this starfish maintains a stable, low population density. The role of natural predators in maintaining high prey diversity, and the possible survival strategy of rarity in the coral reef community is unclear with respect to either starfish, their predators or their prey. The spatial distribution, population structure and fecundity of other starfish, while central to an understanding of these outbreaks, is not understood.

    The PhD study sought answers to the following questions:

    1. What starfish species are present at Heron Reef?
    2. What is the spatial pattern of each species?
    3. What is the population structure of each species?
    4. What is the reproductive mode of each species?
    5. Is the mean individual size stable for each species?
    6. How diverse is this community?

    Comparative data on these starfish might contribute usefully to an understanding of this outbreak phenomenon and with this broad aim in mind, the PhD study focused on Heron Reef which is a non-outbreaking reef at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. Factors that influence diversity and stability within the coral reef community should emerge when these results are compared with data from outbreaking reefs.

    The thesis titled “Life-History Strategies of Coral Reef Asteroids” was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Queensland on 5th December 1985. The central questions of the thesis were stated at the end of the introduction and the thesis to be defended was that on reefs where large-bodied starfish are uncommon they exist in a stable population structure with little recruitment.

    The thesis also suggested that:

    (1) there was little competition between starfish,
    (2) the starfish represented a recruitment-limited species assemblage,
    (3) high specificity at settlement was necessary for the survival of post-settlement juveniles, and
    (4) the ability to disperse widely was necessary for the survival of many starfish species.

    These propositions were consistent with the low density and patchy starfish distribution at Heron Reef but were clearly not conclusions derived logically from established facts. Both external examiners incorrectly believed that these suggestions were the thesis that was being defended.

    The student’s research had been supervised by Dr Endean of the Zoology Department. Although Dr Endean agreed that the thesis was in an appropriate form for submission, he commented on the submission of the thesis that “much more could have been made of the information obtained. For example, the candidate has failed to give adequate attention to the theoretical implications of the principal findings made”. Dr Endean stated further following the return of the examiner’s reports that “It is my belief that no additional field work by the candidate would be required as adequate data are available for a meaningful revision which would take into account the cogent comments made by all referees.”

    The extracts of the examiners’ reports which were fowarded to the Head of Department, Dr Endean and the student did not include Dr Yamaguchi’s comment that “there are considerable amount of data which should be treated more carefully and they would be strengthened by collecting additional information, so that the candidate should be encouraged to complete this work to be acceptable for the degree”. In addition, Prof Ebert stated that “The data do not directly address important problems of competition, recruitment or dispersal. What this means, I am suggesting, is that the thesis to be defended must be recast OR that additional data must be presented that address the defense of the thesis as it is stated”.

    The student had tutored in the Zoology Department for several years and under the conditions of appointment for tutorial staff approved by University Senate, no further tutorial appointment was possible beyond 1985. The student was ineligible for Tertiary Assistance and was required to pay student charges from which he had been exempt whilst employed as a tutor. Prior to the student’s notification that he was required to revise and resubmit his thesis within 12 months, he was employed full-time by Queensland University under a consultancy agreement between the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and UniQuest Ltd signed on 17-June-1986.

    The Consultancy Agreement specified that a Research Fellow (at least 6 years post-doctoral experience) and a Research Assistant be appointed to undertake the work. Although the University knew that the student was required to revise and resubmit his thesis within 12 months and although the student’s contract of employment was not finalized until 4-August-1986, the student commenced employment with the University on 26-June-1986 as a Research Officer. The student was advised that his thesis had not been approved on 7-July-1986 while the University had been aware of this fact since 17-June-1986.

    The Consultancy Agreement countained a clause which provided that “The Consultant, its employees or agents shall not disclose or make public any information or material acquired or produced in connection with or by the performance of the services without prior approval in writing of the Authority”.

    Dr Endean was one of the three Principal Investigators involved in the Consultancy which provided for the “study of crown of thorns starfish predators on or in the vicinity of reefs of the Great Barrier Reef”. Project execution involved “searching in areas of crown of thorns starfish aggregations for predators and instances of predation” as well as “enclosure and possibly aquarium studies of potential predators”. This student and another worked in the field.

    The Giant Triton (Charonia tritonis) is a well-known but rarely encountered predator of many species of starfish on the Great Barrier Reef. It was the only observed predator of adult starfish throughout the entire period of the students’ employment under the Consultancy Agreement. Both students believed that the triton was a voracious predator of starfish and that it occurred with a frequency much greater in regions of residual crown of thorns starfish outbreak than had been observed at Heron Reef.

    At John Brewer Reef, the triton’s aggregated spatial pattern and prey preference seemed sufficient to account for the observed reduction in adult crown of thorns starfish numbers within the area of residual starfish outbreak. If a similar sized but dispersed population of tritons occurred at Heron Reef it could easily have remained undetected but still be sufficient to explain the low abundance of starfish on that reef. John Brewer Reef was the only readily accessible reef that contained a residual population of crown of thorns starfish and the isolation of triton aggregations was a condition precedent to the establishment of a general triton census technique.

    Both students asserted that the triton was predominantly cryptic and that density estimates which were based on snorkel swims or manta surveys, rather than detailed scuba searches by skilled observers, would grossly underestimate the triton’s abundance and in particular fail to establish whether the triton aggregated in the vicinity of crown of thorns starfish aggregations. The establishment of this fact was relevant to the revision of the student’s thesis and to any survey technique agreement between UniQuest and the Authority because it was relevant to the expected correlation between starfish numbers and predator numbers.

    While a large-scaled negative correlation between starfish and predator abundance is predicted by the Predator Control Hypothesis, a medium-scale positive correlation will be predicted if predators aggregate in areas of prey aggregation. The observation of prey dispersion following unsuccessful predator attack and a further negative correlation between starfish and predator abundance on an even finer scale was proposed. This latter proposition and the implication of reduced starfish egg fertilization in dispersed starfish aggregations was raised by both students. There was great potential for confounded variables unless the degree of predator aggregation was determined prior to the establishment of a general predator census technique.

    These matters were a source of major contention between the students and Dr Endean and resulted in both students’ dismissal. All the relevant facts as well as any implications that were relevant to the execution of the Consultancy Agreement or might be relevant to the revision of the thesis were communicated to both Dr Endean and the Authority. There was a great conflict of interest between Dr Endean’s role as PhD supervisor and his role as a Principal Investigator under the Consultancy Agreement. The Authority was aware of this conflict of interest.

    In a letter addressed to Theses Section 31-March-1987 the student requested an extension of time for submission as well as an exemption from administrative fees to allow resubmission. This letter was stamped by Records Section on 7-April-1987 but no reply was received by the student and he assumed that an extension of time for resubmission and the granting of fee exemption had not been immediately approved. Under a recent Freedom of Information request the student discovered that the University’s response had been greatly delayed and consequently was not delivered to the student.

    When the students’ employment was terminated by the University the students were overpaid due to an error on the part of the University. The University initiated legal proceedings to recover this overpayment even though it was a direct and forseeable consequence of the University’s own negligence. It was only when the University received legal advise that the students were likely to succeed in their countersuit that the legal proceedings were dropped by the University. As a consequence of this litigation any possibility of a reconciliation between the students and Dr Endean was impossible. The student believes that this animosity still continues. Dr Endean has now retired.

    The student notified the University that he wished to revise and resubmit his thesis and the letter of 31-Mar-1987 is prima facie evidence of this fact. There has been a considerable delay in applying for reenrolment and the student agrees that the nature of the revision could be quite extensive but is prepared to give full consideration to all cogent comments. With respect to the delay in reenrolment, the student submits that it is relevant that the University maintained contact with him throughout the extensive period of litigation but did not respond to his letter of 31-Mar-1987 regarding revision of his thesis. An equitable remedy is being sought that includes a supervised project incorporating much of the previous work.

    The student will comply with the conditions expressed in the University’s undelivered letter of 7-July-1987 regarding reenrolment and any further requirements of the Post-Graduate Studies Committee. The student knows that it is necessary to obtain a new supervisor before the nature of the revision can be finalised. The student is presently seeking a supervisor for the project and will advise when he has found supervision that complies with the PhD rule requirements.

    J.C.Paterson – Semester 1, 1993.

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  3. 7/64 Macquarie St
    St Lucia 4067

    19-4-1994

    Mr D Porter
    Secretary and Registrar
    University of Queensland

    Dear Sir

    Following examination of my Ph D thesis in 1986, I was permitted to revise and resubmit the thesis, but I was told in 1987 and again in 1993 that a supervisor must be willing to supervise the project before resubmission will be allowed. The lawfulness of this decision is presently being reviewed by the Post-Graduate Research Studies Committee as I wish to resubmit but no suitable and willing supervisor is available.

    I made an informal Freedom of Information request in March 1993 and I have examined University files from Central Registry, Zoology, UNIQUEST and Archives. I required access to these files in order to justify the delay in resubmission and to clarify the circumstances surrounding my employment and subsequent dismissal from the position of Research Officer in the Zoology Department. This material was also examined for the purpose of establishing whether I was being prejudiced in my employment because I proposed to give evidence before a Commission of Inquiry under the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act, 1974.

    I photocopied relevant material and I was assured by your Freedom of Information officer (Mrs M Lavery) that no material was being withheld by the University. The material disclosed several matters that were of particular concern to me, namely:

    1. The delay in the official receipt of Ebert’s comments.
    2. The delay in the reply to my letter of 31-3-1987.
    3. The failure of the University to apologise following withdrawal of overpayment proceedings against me.
    4. The failure of the University to correspond with me at the known contact address other than in litigation.

    Following discussions with the Head and staff of Zoology Department during 1993, and in particular having received a hand written note dated 24-10-93, purportedly concluding the matter, I suspected that there may be anomalies in the file due to failure to record correspondence. I again requested to see my Zoology file and have now been informed that it is lost. Please could you conduct an investigation into this matter immediately as this is most unsatisfactory.

    Yours sincerely

    John C Paterson SN 687426-702

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  4. 21 December 1993

    POSTGRADUATE RESEARCH STUDIES COMMITTEE

    UNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND

    BRISBANE QLD 4072

    Request for permission to resubmit a Doctor of Philosophy thesis without obtaining a supervisor.

    JOHN CHARLES PATERSON (SN 687426-702)

    Applicant

    SUMMARY OF ISSUES:

    1. Is the suitability of a supervisor a question of law to be determined in accordance with the prescribed rules.

    2. Is the opportunity to revise and resubmit a Doctor of Philosophy thesis conditional upon the obtaining of supervision.

    J C Paterson
    7/64 Macquarie Street
    ST LUCIA QLD 4067

    Index to discussion documents

    Document Date Pages
    _____________________________________________________________

    Request and Summary of Issues 21 Dec ’93 1
    Academic Record 1993 2
    Letter from Zoology 9 Dec ’93 3
    Letter from Postgraduate Studies 30 Nov ’93 4
    Fax to GBRMPA 29 Nov ’93 6
    Letter to GBRMPA 26 Nov ’93 7
    Letter to Postgraduate Studies 23 Nov ’93 8
    Letter from GBRMPA 9 Nov ’93 9
    Letter from Postgraduate Studies 8 Nov ’93 10
    Letter from Zoology 24 Oct ’93 11
    Letter from GBRMPA 20 Sep ’93 12
    Letter to GBRMPA 17 Sep ’93 13
    Letter to GBRMPA 15 Sep ’93 16
    Letter to Zoology 26 Jul ’93 17
    1993 Proposal to Zoology 26 Jul ’93 18
    Background Report to Zoology 24 Apr ’93 37
    Letter from Zoology 10 May ’93 41
    Letter from DASET 25 Mar ’92 42
    Submission to DASETT 14 Oct ’91 45
    Letter from Community Justice Program 13 Sep ’91 46
    Letter from Community Justice Program 27 Aug ’91 47
    Letter from Community Justice Program 26 Aug ’91 48
    Letter from Legal Aid Office 26 Jul ’91 49
    Submission to Legal Aid Office 24 Jun ’91 50
    Letter from Legal Aid Office 20 Jun ’91 51
    Final Report to GBRMPA Jun ’90 52
    Letter from GBRMPA 31 May ’90 95
    Letter from GBRMPA 19 Mar ’90 96
    Report to GBRMPA 28 Feb ’90 98
    Consultancy Agreement 15 Jan ’90 99
    Letter from GBRMPA 12 Jan ’90 102
    Letter from GBRMPA 29 Nov ’89 103
    Letter from COTSARC 30 Mar ’89 104
    Letter from DASETT 17 Feb ’89 105
    Letter from GBRMPA 8 Feb ’89 107
    Letter from Australian Geographic 5 Jan ’89 108
    Letter from DASETT 23 Dec ’88 109
    Letter from GBRMPA 22 Dec ’88 110
    Media Release DASETT 21 Dec ’88 112
    Letter from Dalhold 6 Dec ’88 113
    Letter to Dalhold, etc 4 Dec ’88 114
    Letter to GBRMPA 2 Dec ’88 115
    Letter from GBRMPA 2 Dec ’88 116
    Letter to Minister of Environment 11 Nov ’88 117
    Letter from GBRMPA 24 Oct ’88 120
    Letter from GBRMPA 19 Aug ’88 121
    Advertisement GBRMPA 25 Jun ’88 122
    Letter from AIMS 18 Apr ’88 124
    Letter to Legal Officer 4 Mar ’88 126
    Letter from QDPI 25 Feb ’88 127
    Letter from AIMS 11 Feb ’88 129
    Letter from Nature 29 Jan ’88 130
    Letter from Dreamworld 28 Jan ’88 131
    Memorandum to Head Zoology 14 Jan ’88 132
    Letter to GBRMPA 11 Jan ’88 133
    Debtor Status Report 13 Oct ’87 134
    Letter to Student 4 Aug ’87 135
    Letter to Student (undelivered) 7 Jul ’87 136
    File note re letter undated 137
    Note to Chair PGSC 6 Jul ’87 138
    Memorandum to Deputy Bursar 8 May ’87 139
    Minutes of P/G Studies Committee 2 Apr ’87 140
    Letter to Theses Section 31 Mar ’87 142
    Memorandum to Bursar 10 Mar ’87 143
    Letter to Student 5 Mar ’87 144
    Notice to Student 4 Mar ’87 145
    Letter to Student 10 Feb ’87 146
    Letter to Student 4 Feb ’87 147
    Statement by Dr Endean undated 148
    Letter to Personnel Services 5 Jan ’87 150
    Letter to Student 5 Jan ’87 151
    Progress Report to GBRMPA 31 Dec ’86 152
    3 Monthly Report to Dr Endean 16 Dec ’86 162
    Letter to Student 5 Dec ’86 170
    Memorandum to Dr Endean 1 Sep ’86 171
    Letter to Registrar 4 Aug ’86 172
    Minutes of P/G Studies Committee 31 Jul ’86 173
    Letter to Reichelt 30 Jul ’86 174
    Offer of Appointment 22 Jul ’86 175
    Conditions of Appointment 1 Jan ’85 176
    Qualification for Appointment undated 178
    Memorandum to Registrar 16 Jul ’86 180
    Letter to Student 7 Jul ’86 181
    Letter to Reichelt 1 Jul ’86 182
    Letter to Acting Head Zoology 27 Jun ’86 183
    UNIQUEST Consultancy Agreement 17 Jun ’86 185
    Memorandum to Head Zoology 17 Jun ’86 197
    Examiner’s Report from Ebert 28 Mar ’86 198
    Examiner’s Report from Yamaguchi 21 Mar ’86 206
    Examiner’s Report from Reichelt 12 Feb ’86 211
    Statement by Supervisor 16 Dec ’85 213
    Memorandum to Deputy Bursar 31 Oct ’85 214
    Letter to Deputy Bursar 2 Oct ’85 215
    Letter to Student 2 Sep ’85 216
    Letter to Staff Officer 28 Aug ’85 217
    Letter to Registrar 27 May ’85 218
    Letter to Head Zoology 24 May ’85 219
    Supervisor’s Report 20 May ’85 220
    Offer of Appointment 7 Nov ’84 221
    Letter from GBRMPA 16 May ’84 222
    Letter from GBRMPA 19 Jan ’84 223
    Letter from GBRMPA 8 Sep ’82 224
    Letter from GBRMPA 4 Sep ’81 225

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  5. 7/64 Macquarie St
    ST LUCIA QLD 4067

    21 December 1993

    Professor David Siddle
    Dean, Postgraduate Studies
    University of Queensland

    Dear Professor Siddle,

    Thank-you for your letter of 30 November offering to have the matter of revision and re-submission of my thesis discussed at the first meeting of the Postgraduate Research Studies Committee in 1994. I give my full and specific approval to discussion of this matter by the Committee and would add that I am prepared to attend and answer any questions relating to either the thesis, the UNIQUEST consultancy or the delay in re-submission if the Committee feels that this would be of assistance in their discussion.

    At the beginning of this year, Dr Greenwood had told me that he was willing to supervise this project if no other supervision was available but Professor Grigg and Dr Johnson have stated that they did not consider him to be suitable. While I accept Dr Johnson’s refusal to supervise the project himself, and I thank him for giving it his consideration, I personally feel that Dr Greenwood would have been an excellent supervisor considering both his general knowledge of marine science and his familiarity with my situation.

    As the Committee may be aware, supervision difficulties have precluded revision and resubmission of my thesis for a long time and, as Professor Kikkawa will confirm, these began immediately prior to submission when he had to direct Dr Endean that a supervisor’s permission is not required for submission of a thesis. This difficult situation deteriorated further during the UNIQUEST consultancy when Dr Endean and I came into direct conflict over methods. I should stress however that I am in complete agreement with Dr Endean’s finding that humans caused the starfish outbreaks and in particular, I fully support his earliest proposition regarding collection by humans of the Giant Triton shell.

    Given that no supervisor is available for the extended project and given that you do not consider the award of a Masters degree to be appropriate, I request permission to revise and re-submit the original thesis, with or without supervision. I do feel however, that a suitable and willing supervisor could now be found for the limited purpose of thesis revision and re-submission, as distinct from your previous suggestion of a new project incorporating much of the old thesis. I am sure that submission can be accomplished without delay if the Committee will approve this course of action.

    From 1987 to 1993, I made several informal approaches to academic staff members of the Zoology Department regarding supervision, but an encouraging response was not received until early 1993. Throughout this period, research funds were sought also from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) to clarify specific points relating to predatory regulation of starfish numbers that were relevant to the revision of my thesis. One such proposal was funded and in April 1990 the final report was accepted by GBRMPA.

    I enclose a set of indexed correspondence between the University, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), or other relevant departments and myself from prior to submission to the present and draw the Committee’s special attention to the 1993 proposal and its background report. The remaining correspondence is relevant in that it details the events surrounding my employment under the UNIQUEST consultancy as well as my continued attempts to seek support for ideas central to the revision of the thesis. Although the examiners’ comments were directed at my general failure to state clearly the thesis that was being defended, the thesis contained several unacceptable suggestions.

    “Juveniles of the common, sexually reproducing, large-bodied asteroids ….. were rare and the populations of these species were adult dominated throughout the study period ” – page 41.

    “Considering the high reproductive effort displayed by most of the common species, there is little evidence of successful recruitment. It is possible, when the population is at low density, that many eggs are never fertilised ” – page 49.

    I suggest that much of the difficulty in obtaining supervision is related to the ideas that have been expressed in the thesis, 1986-1990 reports to GBRMPA and the 1993 proposal. In summary, I believe that most starfish eggs are not fertilised when starfish exist at non-outbreak density such as at Heron Island and an experiment to test this proposition formed the core of the 1993 extended project for which supervision was refused. The Crown of Thorns Starfish Research Committee (COTSREC) has invited resubmission of this proposal for consideration of funding at its next meeting in May 1994.

    With respect to the decision before the Committee, although there is a preliminary question as to whether the suitability of any supervisor involves a question of law to be determined in accordance with the prescribed rules, my basic submission is that when the Academic Board gives a student the opportunity to revise and resubmit a thesis, this opportunity is not conditional upon the obtaining of supervision. I believe that these matters have been the source of much confusion and require clarification. I thank-you for considering my requests and please let me know if I can be of any further assistance to the Committee in this matter.

    Yours sincerely

    John C Paterson

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