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Unformatted text preview: Thermal Stress and Coral Cover as Drivers of Coral Disease Outbreaks John F. Bruno 1* , Elizabeth R. Selig 2 , Kenneth S. Casey 3 , Cathie A. Page 4 , Bette L. Willis 4 , C. Drew Harvell 5 , Hugh Sweatman 6 , Amy M. Melendy 7 1 Department of Marine Sciences, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States of America, 2 Curriculum in Ecology and Department of Marine Sciences, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States of America, 3 National Oceanographic Data Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States of America, 4 Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies, School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia, 5 Section of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, United States of America, 6 Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Queensland, Australia, 7 Department of Epidemiology, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States of America Very little is known about how environmental changes such as increasing temperature affect disease dynamics in the ocean, especially at large spatial scales. We asked whether the frequency of warm temperature anomalies is positively related to the frequency of coral disease across 1,500 km of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. We used a new high- resolution satellite dataset of ocean temperature and 6 y of coral disease and coral cover data from annual surveys of 48 reefs to answer this question. We found a highly significant relationship between the frequencies of warm temperature anomalies and of white syndrome, an emergent disease, or potentially, a group of diseases, of Pacific reef-building corals. The effect of temperature was highly dependent on coral cover because white syndrome outbreaks followed warm years, but only on high ( . 50%) cover reefs, suggesting an important role of host density as a threshold for outbreaks. Our results indicate that the frequency of temperature anomalies, which is predicted to increase in most tropical oceans, can increase the susceptibility of corals to disease, leading to outbreaks where corals are abundant. Citation: Bruno JF, Selig ER, Casey KS, Page CA, Willis BL, et al. (2007) Thermal stress and coral cover as drivers of coral disease outbreaks. PLoS Biol 5(6): e124. doi:10.1371/ journal.pbio.0050124 Introduction Climatic and oceanographic conditions can modify a wide variety of ecological processes. For example, ocean temper- ature can control species ranges, the strength of species interactions, the dispersal and survival of marine larvae, and the rates of metabolism and speciation [1–6]. Additionally, anomalously high temperature and other environmental stresses can inﬂuence the severity and dynamics of infectious diseases by increasing host susceptibility and pathogen...
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This note was uploaded on 08/06/2008 for the course ESM 260 taught by Professor Lenihan during the Spring '08 term at UCSB.
- Spring '08