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Selective Impact of Disease on Coral Communities: Outbreak of White Syndrome Causes Significant Total Mortality of Acropora Plate Corals.

Hobbs JP, Frisch AJ, Newman SJ, Wakefield CB - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: Following the outbreak, live Acropora plate coral cover at 5 m depth decreased significantly from 7.0 to 0.8%, while the cover of other coral taxa remained unchanged.Observations five years after the initial outbreak revealed that total Acropora plate cover remained low and confirmed that corals that lost all their tissue due to WS did not recover.These results demonstrate that WS represents a significant and selective form of coral mortality and highlights the serious threat WS poses to coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Environment and Agriculture, Curtin University, Perth, Australia.

ABSTRACT
Coral diseases represent a significant and increasing threat to coral reefs. Among the most destructive diseases is White Syndrome (WS), which is increasing in distribution and prevalence throughout the Indo-Pacific. The aim of this study was to determine taxonomic and spatial patterns in mortality rates of corals following the 2008 outbreak of WS at Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean. WS mainly affected Acropora plate corals and caused total mortality of 36% of colonies across all surveyed sites and depths. Total mortality varied between sites but was generally much greater in the shallows (0-96% of colonies at 5 m depth) compared to deeper waters (0-30% of colonies at 20 m depth). Site-specific mortality rates were a reflection of the proportion of corals affected by WS at each site during the initial outbreak and were predicted by the initial cover of live Acropora plate cover. The WS outbreak had a selective impact on the coral community. Following the outbreak, live Acropora plate coral cover at 5 m depth decreased significantly from 7.0 to 0.8%, while the cover of other coral taxa remained unchanged. Observations five years after the initial outbreak revealed that total Acropora plate cover remained low and confirmed that corals that lost all their tissue due to WS did not recover. These results demonstrate that WS represents a significant and selective form of coral mortality and highlights the serious threat WS poses to coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific.

No MeSH data available.


Mean percent (± SE) cover of the six most common coral morphologies at the beginning of (February to April 2008—black bars), and after (October 2008—white bars), the White Syndrome outbreak at Christmas Island.
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pone.0132528.g003: Mean percent (± SE) cover of the six most common coral morphologies at the beginning of (February to April 2008—black bars), and after (October 2008—white bars), the White Syndrome outbreak at Christmas Island.

Mentions: The outbreak of WS predominately affected Acropora plate corals (Fig 3). Following the outbreak of WS, mean Acropora plate cover (across all sites and depths) declined significantly from 9.5 (±1.6 SE) to 3.8% (±1.2 SE)(t-test: t = 3.45, d.f. = 14, p = 0.003), while the other categories of hard corals (corymbose, branching, massive, foliose, encrusting) experienced minimal change in percent cover or were too rare to be analysed (<3% coverage: columnar and free-living)(Fig 3). A closer examination revealed that the majority of the decline in the cover of Acropora plate corals occurred in the shallows. Mean Acropora plate cover declined from 7.0 (±1.7 SE) to 0.8% (±0.6 SE) at 5 m depth following the WS outbreak (t-test: t = 3.45, d.f. = 14, p = 0.004, n = 8, Fig 4A). Whereas at the 20 m depth, the decline in mean Acropora plate cover (from 12.0 ± 2.5 SE to 6.8% ±1.7 SE, Fig 4B) was less severe and not statistically significant (t-test: t = 1.71, d.f. = 14, p = 0.11, n = 4, Fig 5). Mean percent cover of Acropora plate coral has remained low five years after the 2008 WS outbreak (Fig 5).


Selective Impact of Disease on Coral Communities: Outbreak of White Syndrome Causes Significant Total Mortality of Acropora Plate Corals.

Hobbs JP, Frisch AJ, Newman SJ, Wakefield CB - PLoS ONE (2015)

Mean percent (± SE) cover of the six most common coral morphologies at the beginning of (February to April 2008—black bars), and after (October 2008—white bars), the White Syndrome outbreak at Christmas Island.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4493122&req=5

pone.0132528.g003: Mean percent (± SE) cover of the six most common coral morphologies at the beginning of (February to April 2008—black bars), and after (October 2008—white bars), the White Syndrome outbreak at Christmas Island.
Mentions: The outbreak of WS predominately affected Acropora plate corals (Fig 3). Following the outbreak of WS, mean Acropora plate cover (across all sites and depths) declined significantly from 9.5 (±1.6 SE) to 3.8% (±1.2 SE)(t-test: t = 3.45, d.f. = 14, p = 0.003), while the other categories of hard corals (corymbose, branching, massive, foliose, encrusting) experienced minimal change in percent cover or were too rare to be analysed (<3% coverage: columnar and free-living)(Fig 3). A closer examination revealed that the majority of the decline in the cover of Acropora plate corals occurred in the shallows. Mean Acropora plate cover declined from 7.0 (±1.7 SE) to 0.8% (±0.6 SE) at 5 m depth following the WS outbreak (t-test: t = 3.45, d.f. = 14, p = 0.004, n = 8, Fig 4A). Whereas at the 20 m depth, the decline in mean Acropora plate cover (from 12.0 ± 2.5 SE to 6.8% ±1.7 SE, Fig 4B) was less severe and not statistically significant (t-test: t = 1.71, d.f. = 14, p = 0.11, n = 4, Fig 5). Mean percent cover of Acropora plate coral has remained low five years after the 2008 WS outbreak (Fig 5).

Bottom Line: Following the outbreak, live Acropora plate coral cover at 5 m depth decreased significantly from 7.0 to 0.8%, while the cover of other coral taxa remained unchanged.Observations five years after the initial outbreak revealed that total Acropora plate cover remained low and confirmed that corals that lost all their tissue due to WS did not recover.These results demonstrate that WS represents a significant and selective form of coral mortality and highlights the serious threat WS poses to coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Environment and Agriculture, Curtin University, Perth, Australia.

ABSTRACT
Coral diseases represent a significant and increasing threat to coral reefs. Among the most destructive diseases is White Syndrome (WS), which is increasing in distribution and prevalence throughout the Indo-Pacific. The aim of this study was to determine taxonomic and spatial patterns in mortality rates of corals following the 2008 outbreak of WS at Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean. WS mainly affected Acropora plate corals and caused total mortality of 36% of colonies across all surveyed sites and depths. Total mortality varied between sites but was generally much greater in the shallows (0-96% of colonies at 5 m depth) compared to deeper waters (0-30% of colonies at 20 m depth). Site-specific mortality rates were a reflection of the proportion of corals affected by WS at each site during the initial outbreak and were predicted by the initial cover of live Acropora plate cover. The WS outbreak had a selective impact on the coral community. Following the outbreak, live Acropora plate coral cover at 5 m depth decreased significantly from 7.0 to 0.8%, while the cover of other coral taxa remained unchanged. Observations five years after the initial outbreak revealed that total Acropora plate cover remained low and confirmed that corals that lost all their tissue due to WS did not recover. These results demonstrate that WS represents a significant and selective form of coral mortality and highlights the serious threat WS poses to coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific.

No MeSH data available.