Coral diversity and the severity of disease outbreaks: a cross-regional comparison of Acropora White Syndrome in a species-rich region (American Samoa) with a species-poor region (Northwestern Hawaiian Islands)

Aeby, G.S., Bourne, D.G., Wilson, B., and Work, T.M. (2011) Coral diversity and the severity of disease outbreaks: a cross-regional comparison of Acropora White Syndrome in a species-rich region (American Samoa) with a species-poor region (Northwestern Hawaiian Islands). Journal of Marine Biology, 2011. 490198.

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Abstract

The dynamics of the coral disease, Acropora white syndrome (AWS), was directly compared on reefs in the species-poor region of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) and the species-rich region of American Samoa (AS) with results suggesting that biodiversity, which can affect the abundance of susceptible hosts, is important in influencing the impacts of coral disease outbreaks. The diversity-disease hypothesis predicts that decreased host species diversity should result in increased disease severity of specialist pathogens. We found that AWS was more prevalent and had a higher incidence within the NWHI as compared to AS. Individual Acropora colonies affected by AWS showed high mortality in both regions, but case fatality rate and disease severity was higher in the NWHI. The site within the NWHI had a monospecific stand of A. cytherea; a species that is highly susceptible to AWS. Once AWS entered the site, it spread easily amongst the abundant susceptible hosts. The site within AS contained numerous Acropora species, which differed in their apparent susceptibility to infection and disease severity, which in turn reduced disease spread. Manipulative studies showed AWS was transmissible through direct contact in three Acropora species. These results will help managers predict and respond to disease outbreaks.

Item ID: 51200
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1687-949X
Additional Information:

© 2011 G. S. Aeby et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Funders: NOAA Coral Reef Conservation
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2017 00:02
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0605 Microbiology > 060506 Virology @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9610 Natural Hazards > 961006 Natural Hazards in Marine Environments @ 50%
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