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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03411

    History of perspectives on the study of coral disease in the eastern tropical Pacific

    J. C. Rodríguez-Villalobos*, H. Reyes-Bonilla

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: Disease in coral species is one factor associated with the current degradation process of tropical reefs. The history of research on coral pathologies dates to 1970 with the first reports of diseases in the Greater Caribbean and Indo-Pacific regions, although some anecdotal observations were made earlier. Today, there is information on the health conditions of more than 200 coral species in 70 countries. The special natural conditions under which reefs develop in the eastern tropical Pacific (ETP) and the predominance of a single coral genus, Pocillopora (a host highly susceptible to disease), leave them vulnerable to health impairments and the loss of viability, structure and function in the wider ecosystem. Therefore, coral reefs in the ETP are ideal systems for studies of biodiversity and survivorship. To clarify the status of knowledge on coral diseases in the ETP, we reviewed scientific studies conducted there from 1970−2018, comparing 127 publications to literature on other reef regions in the Pacific. Despite the vulnerability of reefs in the ETP, only limited information exists describing and investigating the etiology of lesions and other signs of health deterioration in corals, and there are few baseline studies of coral reefs or analyses of the spatial and temporal dynamics of disease syndromes. In general, efforts to study coral diseases in the ETP are inadequate.