Decline in live coral tissue due to disease is an ongoing challenge in coral reef conservation and restoration. To better characterize white diseases in South Florida staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) populations, field surveys were conducted to characterize disease prevalence in the Florida Keys, particularly with regard to differences between wild colonies and cultured, outplanted colonies. In addition, experimental mitigation treatments were implemented to determine if these treatments were effective in arresting tissue loss associated with the disease state. Results indicated that over the study period, disease prevalence was significantly different between sites. Severe disease outbreak conditions were observed only at outplant sites, although outbreaks did not occur at all outplant sites. Predation by Hermodice carunculata, and Coralliophila abbreviata were also found to vary widely between sites and time intervals and were not correlated to disease prevalence. Among all treated colonies and conditions of high disease prevalence, disease mitigation treatments had no significant effect in arresting tissue loss associated with disease. However, when treatments were performed under conditions of low disease prevalence, tissue loss was arrested at a significantly higher rate than controls for both the epoxy band and excision treatments. No single environmental factor can account for the variation observed in disease prevalence between sites; likely, a synergy of factors is to blame for the disease dynamics observed. These factors should be considered when selecting future outplanting sites, and the effectiveness of epoxy band and excision treatments must be assessed further but may be useful field mitigation techniques under specific conditions.
Lohr, Kathryn E., "An assessment of disease prevalence and mitigation strategies among wild and out planted Acropora cervicornis in the Florida Keys." (2011). Internship Reports (Restricted). 264.
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