Habitat: Acanthaster planci are predominantly found throughout the Indo-Pacific region. Because this starfish can vary between having very little presence to sudden population blooms, it is difficult to quantify their population in a given area. The Crown-of-Thorns starfish can be seen in areas with high populations of coral polyps, as they are its main food source, found on coral reefs.

Indo-Pacific biogeographic region map.
 Image from Wikimedia Commons.
Author: Eric Gaba (Sting)

Ecological Role: The Crown-of-Thorns starfish are notorious for their ability to destroy entire coral reef populations during outbreaks. They feed on the coral polyps who create the reefs. The destruction of coral reefs can cause major problems with tidal control as well as the loss of several homes to thousands of other organisms. For more information on impact check out Interactions.

Image taken from Wikipedia. Author: Toby Hudson

Next, come see how Acanthaster planci has adapted to its environment in Adaptations.