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Deep Sea Res
Eisenlord, M. E., Groner, M. L., Yoshioka, R. M., Elliott, J., Maynard, J., Fradkin, S., et al. (2016). Ochre star mortality during the 2014 wasting disease epizootic: role of population size structure and temperature.
Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B
Over 20 species of asteroids were devastated by a sea star wasting disease (SSWD) epizootic, linked to a densovirus, from Mexico to Alaska in 2013 and 2014. For Pisaster ochraceus from the San Juan Islands, South Puget Sound and Washington outer coast, time-series monitoring showed rapid disease spread, high mortality rates in 2014, and continuing levels of wasting in the survivors in 2015. Peak prevalence of disease at 16 sites ranged to 100%, with an overall mean of 61%. Analysis of longitudinal data showed disease risk was correlated with both size and temperature and resulted in shifts in population size structure; adult populations fell to one quarter of pre-outbreak abundances. In laboratory experiments, time between development of disease signs and death was influenced by temperature in adults but not juveniles and adult mortality was 18% higher in the 19 degrees C treatment compared to the lower temperature treatments. While larger ochre stars developed disease signs sooner than juveniles, diseased juveniles died more quickly than diseased adults. Unusual 2-3 degrees C warm temperature anomalies were coincident with the summer 2014 mortalities. We suggest these warm waters could have increased the disease progression and mortality rates of SSWD in Washington State.
sea star wasting disease
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Lapointe, B. E., Brewton, R. A., Herren, L. W., Porter, J. W., & Hu, C. (2019). Nitrogen enrichment, altered stoichiometry, and coral reef decline at Looe Key, Florida Keys, USA: a 3-decade study.
Increased loadings of nitrogen (N) from fertilizers, top soil, sewage, and atmospheric deposition are important drivers of eutrophication in coastal waters globally. Monitoring seawater and macroalgae can reveal long-term changes in N and phosphorus (P) availability and N:P stoichiometry that are critical to understanding the global crisis of coral reef decline. Analysis of a unique 3-decade data set for Looe Key reef, located offshore the lower Florida Keys, showed increased dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN), chlorophyll a, DIN:soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) ratios, as well as higher tissue C:P and N:P ratios in macroalgae during the early 1990s. These data, combined with remote sensing and nutrient monitoring between the Everglades and Looe Key, indicated that the significant DIN enrichment between 1991 and 1995 at Looe Key coincided with increased Everglades runoff, which drains agricultural and urban areas extending north to Orlando, Florida. This resulted in increased P limitation of reef primary producers that can cause metabolic stress in stony corals. Outbreaks of stony coral disease, bleaching, and mortality between 1995 and 2000 followed DIN enrichment, algal blooms, and increased DIN:SRP ratios, suggesting that eutrophication interacted with other factors causing coral reef decline at Looe Key. Although water temperatures at Looe Key exceeded the 30.5 degrees C bleaching threshold repeatedly over the 3-decade study, the three mass bleaching events occurred only when DIN:SRP ratios increased following heavy rainfall and increased Everglades runoff. These results suggest that Everglades discharges, in conjunction with local nutrient sources, contributed to DIN enrichment, eutrophication, and increased N:P ratios at Looe Key, exacerbating P limitation, coral stress and decline. Improved management of water quality at the local and regional levels could moderate N inputs and maintain more balanced N:P stoichiometry, thereby reducing the risk of coral bleaching, disease, and mortality under the current level of temperature stress.
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