Sunday, 21 February 2016

Disease, warming oceans, rock lobster and sea star populations

Date: February 16, 2016
Source: Cornell University

Two new Cornell University studies show how diverse marine organisms are susceptible to diseases made worse by warming oceans.

The first study warns that warm sea temperatures in 2015 may increase the levels of epizootic shell disease in American lobster in the northern Gulf of Maine in 2016. The second provides the first evidence linking warmer ocean temperatures with a West Coast epidemic of sea star wasting disease that has infected more than 20 species and devastated populations since 2013. Both were published Feb. 15 as part of a marine disease-themed special issue of the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

The first paper, "Improving marine disease surveillance through sea temperature monitoring, outlooks and projections," summarizes the cases where there are known links between disease outbreaks and temperature, including diseases that affect corals, turtles, lobsters, bivalves, starfish and eelgrasses. The paper proposes best practices to develop models that link disease risk with temperature. Increased disease threatens a diverse range of marine populations, including economically important species like the Maine lobster which could put at risk the New England fishing industry.


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