Localized outbreaks of coral disease on Arabian reefs are linked to extreme temperatures and environmental stressors

Aeby, Greta Smith, Howells, Emily, Work, Thierry, Abrego, David, Williams, Gareth J., Wedding, Lisa M., Caldwell, Jamie M., Moritsch, Monica, and Burt, John A. (2020) Localized outbreaks of coral disease on Arabian reefs are linked to extreme temperatures and environmental stressors. Coral Reefs, 39. pp. 829-846.

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Abstract

The Arabian Peninsula borders the hottest reefs in the world, and corals living in these extreme environments can provide insight into the effects of warming on coral health and disease. Here, we examined coral reef health at 17 sites across three regions along the northeastern Arabian Peninsula (Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and Oman Sea) representing a gradient of environmental conditions. The Persian Gulf has extreme seasonal fluctuations in temperature and chronic hypersalinity, whereas the other two regions experience more moderate conditions. Field surveys identified 13 coral diseases including tissue loss diseases of unknown etiology (white syndromes) in Porites, Platygyra, Dipsastraea, Cyphastrea, Acropora and Goniopora; growth anomalies in Porites, Platygyra and Dipsastraea; black band disease in Platygyra, Dipsastraea, Acropora, Echinopora and Pavona; bleached patches in Porites and Goniopora and a disease unique to this region, yellow-banded tissue loss in Porites. The most widespread diseases were Platygyra growth anomalies (52.9% of all surveys), Acropora white syndrome (47.1%) and Porites bleached patches (35.3%). We found a number of diseases not yet reported in this region and found differential disease susceptibility among coral taxa. Disease prevalence was higher on reefs within the Persian Gulf (avg. 2.05%) as compared to reefs within the Strait of Hormuz (0.46%) or Oman Sea (0.25%). A high number of localized disease outbreaks (8 of 17 sites) were found, especially within the Persian Gulf (5 of 8 sites). Across all regions, the majority of variation in disease prevalence (82.2%) was associated with the extreme temperature range experienced by these corals combined with measures of organic pollution and proximity to shore. Thermal stress is known to drive a number of coral diseases, and thus, this region provides a platform to study disease at the edge of corals' thermal range.

Item ID: 63042
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0975
Keywords: Arabian Peninsula, Coral disease, Disease outbreaks, Environmental drivers
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2020. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Funders: Qatar National Library, National Geographic Society (NGS)
Projects and Grants: NGS grant no. 977015
Date Deposited: 06 May 2020 07:52
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 19 ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATURAL HAZARDS > 1901 Adaptation to climate change > 190102 Ecosystem adaptation to climate change @ 100%
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