DAO 83:195-208 (2009)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02011

Spatial variability in distribution and prevalence of Caribbean scleractinian coral and octocoral diseases. I. Community-level analysis

Ernesto Weil*, Aldo Cróquer

Dept. of Marine Sciences, University of Puerto Rico, PO Box 908, Lajas 00667, Puerto Rico

ABSTRACT: Geographic assessments of coral diseases are needed to understand their local and geographic spatial-temporal variability. Coral and octocoral diseases and their prevalence were assessed along 4 permanent 10 × 2 m band-transects in each of 3 depth habitats (<4, 5–12 and >15 m) in each of 2 reefs in each of 6 countries across the wider Caribbean during the summer and fall of 2005. A permutational multivariate analysis of variance was used to test variability of major diseases and community level disease prevalence in corals and octocorals among habitats, reefs and countries. The most common and damaging diseases reported for the region were found in most reefs surveyed, but prevalence at the community level was generally low (ca. 2%) increasing from northern to southern latitudes. A significant interaction between sites (nested within country) and depth habitats was found (F = 2.1, df = 12, p = 0.02), with higher prevalence of coral diseases in deep habitats of Culebrita, Puerto Rico (14.8 ± SE 6.5%) and in shallow habitats of Roldán, Panamá (10.2 ± SE 3.5%). The relative importance of each particular disease was dependent on site and habitat (depth intervals) (F = 1.7, df = 12, p = 0.001), with black band disease more prevalent in shallow habitats of Rita’s, Bermuda (1.7 ± SE 0.4%) and yellow band disease (YBD) more prevalent in deeper habitats of Chub Cut, Bermuda (3.7 ± SE 0.5%). There was a significant interaction of total octocoral diseases with country and habitat (F = 2.8, df = 10, p = 0.04) with higher prevalence in deeper habitats of Curaçao (25.9 ± SE 4.2%). Our results indicate that patterns of prevalence of coral and octocoral diseases were not consistent across the different spatial scales, showing differences produced by particular diseases and community composition present. There were no widespread epizootics, but local white plague-II and YBD epizootics were observed in Puerto Rico and other localities.


KEY WORDS: Coral diseases · Caribbean · Octocoral diseases · Spatial variability · Prevalence


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Cite this article as: Weil E, Cróquer A (2009) Spatial variability in distribution and prevalence of Caribbean scleractinian coral and octocoral diseases. I. Community-level analysis. Dis Aquat Org 83:195-208. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02011

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