Monster MashTheir role in a so-called 'balance of nature' ['dynamic system'?] has been debated (see, for example What is natural? by Jan Sapp). A recently published paper by Hugh Sweatman suggests that a 'healthy' coral reef, with plenty of small inverbrates to eat the juvenile starfish, copes better with COTS (press report). Good news, perhaps, until something bigger comes along.
1. There's a useful Q&A on COTS by Peter Moran of AIMS