MEPS 408:109-116 (2010)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps08579

Disease outbreaks associated with recent hurricanes cause mass mortality of sea urchins in Nova Scotia

R. E. Scheibling1,*, C. Feehan1, J.-S. Lauzon-Guay2

1Biology Department, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4J1, Canada
2Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Institut Maurice-Lamontagne, 850 route de la Mer, Mont-Joli, Quebec G5H 3Z4, Canada

ABSTRACT: Field observations and laboratory experiments support the hypothesis that disease-induced mass mortality of the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis can be associated with hurricane events that introduce a pathogenic amoeba Paramoeba invadens to coastal waters. The temporal pattern of morbidity and mortality of sea urchins observed in a large embayment on the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia following Hurricane Juan in September 2003 and Hurricane Bill in August 2009, and in laboratory infection experiments during the 2009 event, closely conformed to that expected based on the known temperature-dependent dynamics of this amoebic disease.


KEY WORDS: Disease · Mass mortality · Sea urchin · Kelp beds · Temperature · Pathogen · Hurricane


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Cite this article as: Scheibling RE, Feehan C, Lauzon-Guay JS (2010) Disease outbreaks associated with recent hurricanes cause mass mortality of sea urchins in Nova Scotia. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 408:109-116. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps08579

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