Predicting outbreaks of a climate-driven coral disease in the Great Barrier Reef

Maynard, J. A., Anthony, K. R. N., Harvell, C. D., Burgman, M. A., Beeden, R., Sweatman, H., Heron, S. F., Lamb, J. B. and Willis, B. L. (2011) Predicting outbreaks of a climate-driven coral disease in the Great Barrier Reef. Coral Reefs, 30 2: 485-495. doi:10.1007/s00338-010-0708-0

Author Maynard, J. A.
Anthony, K. R. N.
Harvell, C. D.
Burgman, M. A.
Beeden, R.
Sweatman, H.
Heron, S. F.
Lamb, J. B.
Willis, B. L.
Title Predicting outbreaks of a climate-driven coral disease in the Great Barrier Reef
Journal name Coral Reefs   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0722-4028
Publication date 2011-06
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s00338-010-0708-0
Volume 30
Issue 2
Start page 485
End page 495
Total pages 11
Place of publication Heidelberg, Germany
Publisher Springer
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Links between anomalously high sea temperatures and outbreaks of coral diseases known as White Syndromes (WS) represent a threat to Indo-Pacific reefs that is expected to escalate in a changing climate. Further advances in understanding disease aetiologies, determining the relative importance of potential risk factors for outbreaks and in trialing management actions are hampered by not knowing where or when outbreaks will occur. Here, we develop a tool to target research and monitoring of WS outbreaks in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). The tool is based on an empirical regression model and takes the form of user-friendly interactive ~1.5-km resolution maps. The maps denote locations where long-term monitoring suggests that coral cover exceeds 26% and summer temperature stress (measured by a temperature metric termed the mean positive summer anomaly) is equal to or exceeds that experienced at sites in 2002 where the only severe WS outbreaks documented on the GBR to date were observed. No WS outbreaks were subsequently documented at 45 routinely surveyed sites from 2003 to 2008, and model hindcasts for this period indicate that outbreak likelihood was never high. In 2009, the model indicated that outbreak likelihood was high at north-central GBR sites. The results of the regression model and targeted surveys in 2009 revealed that the threshold host density for an outbreak decreases as thermal stress increases, suggesting that bleaching could be a more important precursor to WS outbreaks than previously anticipated, given that bleaching was severe at outbreak sites in 2002 but not at any of the surveyed sites in 2009. The iterative approach used here has led to an improved understanding of disease causation, will facilitate management responses and can be applied to other coral diseases and/or other regions.
Keyword Climate change
Coral disease
Great Barrier Reef
Environmental management
White Syndromes
Black-band disease
Bleaching events
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Communicated by Biology Editor Dr. Andrew Baird.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Global Change Institute Publications
Official 2012 Collection
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 24 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 25 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Tue, 06 Sep 2011, 13:59:10 EST by Gail Walter on behalf of Global Change Institute