Plastic waste associated with disease on coral reefs

Lamb, Joleah B., Willis, Bette L., Fiorenza, Evan A., Couch, Courtney S., Howard, Robert, Rader, Douglas N., True, James D., Kelly, Lisa A., Ahmad, Awaludinnoer, Jompa, Jamaluddin, and Harvell, C. Drew (2018) Plastic waste associated with disease on coral reefs. Science, 359 (6374). pp. 460-462.

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Plastic waste can promote microbial colonization by pathogens implicated in outbreaks of disease in the ocean. We assessed the influence of plastic waste on disease risk in 124,000 reef-building corals from 159 reefs in the Asia-Pacific region. The likelihood of disease increases from 4% to 89% when corals are in contact with plastic. Structurally complex corals are eight times more likely to be affected by plastic, suggesting that microhabitats for reef-associated organisms and valuable fisheries will be disproportionately affected. Plastic levels on coral reefs correspond to estimates of terrestrial mismanaged plastic waste entering the ocean. We estimate that 11.1 billion plastic items are entangled on coral reefs across the Asia-Pacific and project this number to increase 40% by 2025. Plastic waste management is critical for reducing diseases that threaten ecosystem health and human livelihoods.

Item ID: 52518
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1095-9203
Copyright Information: The N, an Postgraduate Scholarship, the [Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE) award 1215977], the NOAA/ National Ocean Service (NOS)–, Australian Research Council (grant CEO561435), and the
Funders: Nature Conservancy NatureNet Science Fellowship, Australian Institute of Marine Science at James Cook University (AIMS@JCU), NSF Ecology of Infectious Marine Disease Research Coordination Network, Global Environment Facility and the World Bank (project ID P123933), NOAA/ National Ocean Service (NOS), Environmental Defense Fund Innovation
Projects and Grants: Global Environment Facility and the World Bank (project ID P123933), NOAA/NOS-HIMB agreement code MOA-2009-039, ARC CEO561435
Date Deposited: 14 Feb 2018 07:31
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 100%
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