We’d like to bring your attention to a paper recently published in *Nature
Climate Change *titled: *Projections of climate conditions that increase
coral disease susceptibility and pathogen abundance and virulence. *
We present and compare climate model projections of temperature conditions
that will increase coral susceptibility to disease, pathogen abundance and
pathogen virulence under both moderate (RCP 4.5) and fossil fuel aggressive
(RCP 8.5) emissions scenarios. We also compare projections for the onset of
disease-conducive conditions and severe annual coral bleaching, and produce
a disease risk summary that combines climate stress with stress caused by
local human activities.
Some highlight results:
1. Disease is as likely to cause coral mortality as bleaching in the coming
decades. As evidence of this, at 96% of reef locations at least 2 of the 3
temperature conditions examined occur before annual severe coral bleaching
is projected to occur.
2. There are areas that meet 2 or all 3 of the temperature conditions
examined and have high or very high anthropogenic stress. These
are priority locations for reducing stress caused by local human activities
and testing management interventions to reduce disease impacts.
3. The emissions scenarios RCP8.5 and 4.5 take time to diverge and there is
little difference between the scenarios for the timing of the various
disease-promoting conditions being met. This is further evidence that
reducing stress caused by local human activities will be critically
important to reducing disease impacts in the coming decades.
The role of disease as a significant driver of future reef community
composition is under-appreciated, especially in the Indo-Pacific. Our paper
strongly suggests disease needs to be given greater consideration in
management planning. Further, we need to develop more early warning tools
for disease similar to the few already developed and the tools available
for monitoring bleaching risk from NOAA Coral Reef Watch.
The article can be accessed from the front page here:
A short story about the article:
Our author team: Jeff Maynard, Ruben van Hooidonk, Mark Eakin, Marjetta
Puotinen, Melissa Garren, Gareth Williams, Scott Heron, Joleah Lamb,
Ernesto Weil, Bette Willis, and Drew Harvell.
*Funders: NOAA Climate Program Office and US National Science Foundation.
Jeffrey A. Maynard
Research Faculty – Dept of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell
Research Scientist – CRIOBE & EPHE/CNRS of Moorea, Polynesia and Paris,
Manager – Marine Applied Research Center, North Carolina.
P (mobile): +1 (910) 616-1096
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