Effects of temperature, season and locality on wasting disease in the keystone predatory sea star Pisaster ochraceus
ABSTRACT This study investigates wasting disease in the northeast Pacific keystone predatory sea star Pisaster ochraceus on the outer west coast of Vancouver Island (British Columbia, Canada). To quantify the effects of temperature, season and locality on the vulnerability of P. ochraceus to wasting disease, we conducted surveys and experiments in early and late summer. To test the prediction that a small increase in temperature would result in heightened infection intensities, we housed sea stars at different temperatures in the laboratory and caged sea stars subtidally at 2 depths. Prevalence and infection intensity were always higher in warm temperature treatments and did not differ between the sexes or with increasing size. Disease effects also varied with season and locality. Specimens held in aquaria displayed significantly higher disease prevalence and infection intensity in June versus August. Furthermore, sea stars from a sheltered inlet showed markedly higher prevalence of the disease in late summer, while wave-exposed sites had consistently low disease prevalence. Seasonal changes in reproductive potential, host condition and/or physiological acclimation, as well as differences in environmental regime among localities, may impact the dynamics of wasting disease. These results demonstrate that small increases in temperature could drive mass mortalities of Pisaster due to wasting disease, with vulnerability possibly reaching a peak in spring and in populations from sheltered localities. This is the most northern report of wasting disease in the class Asteroidea on the west coast of North America.
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ABSTRACT: Outbreaks of disease in herbivorous sea urchins have led to ecosystem phase shifts from urchin barrens to kelp beds (forests) on temperate rocky reefs, and from coral to macroalgal-dominated reefs in the tropics. We analyzed temporal patterns in epizootics that cause mass mortality of sea urchins, and consequent phase shifts, based on published records over a 42-year period (1970–2012). We found no evidence for a general increase in disease outbreaks among seven species of ecologically important and intensively studied sea urchins. Periodic waves of recurrent amoebic disease of Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis in Nova Scotia coincide with periods when the system was in a barrens state and appear to have increased in frequency. In contrast, following a major epizootic that decimated Diadema antillarum throughout the Caribbean in 1983, subsequent outbreaks of disease were highly localized and none have been reported since 1991. Epizootics of Strongylocentrotus in the NW Atlantic and NE Pacific, and Paracentrotus and Diadema in the eastern Atlantic, have been linked to climate change and overfishing of sea urchin predators. The spatial extent of recurrent disease outbreaks in these species, and the frequency of phase shifts associated with these epizootics, has decreased over time due to the expansion of the macroalgal state and its stabilization through positive feedback mechanisms. Longitudinal studies to monitor disease outbreaks in sea urchin populations and improved techniques to identify causative agents are needed to assess changes in the frequency and extent of epizootics, which can profoundly affect the structure and functioning of coastal marine ecosystems.Marine Biology 07/2014; 161(7):1467-1485. DOI:10.1007/s00227-014-2452-4 · 2.39 Impact Factor
Pediatric News 08/2010; 44(8):13-13. DOI:10.1016/S0031-398X(10)70355-6
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ABSTRACT: Populations of at least 20 asteroid species on the Northeast Pacific Coast have recently experienced an extensive outbreak of sea-star (asteroid) wasting disease (SSWD). The disease leads to behavioral changes, lesions, loss of turgor, limb autotomy, and death charac-terized by rapid degradation ("melting"). Here, we present evidence from experimental challenge studies and field observations that link the mass mortalities to a densovirus (Parvoviridae). Virus-sized ma-terial (i.e., <0.2 μm) from symptomatic tissues that was inoculated into asymptomatic asteroids consistently resulted in SSWD signs whereas animals receiving heat-killed (i.e., control) virus-sized inoc-ulum remained asymptomatic. Viral metagenomic investigations revealed the sea star-associated densovirus (SSaDV) as the most likely candidate virus associated with tissues from symptomatic asteroids. Quantification of SSaDV during transmission trials indi-cated that progression of SSWD paralleled increased SSaDV load. In field surveys, SSaDV loads were more abundant in symptomatic than in asymptomatic asteroids. SSaDV could be detected in plank-ton, sediments and in nonasteroid echinoderms, providing a possible mechanism for viral spread. SSaDV was detected in museum speci-mens of asteroids from 1942, suggesting that it has been present on the North American Pacific Coast for at least 72 y. SSaDV is therefore the most promising candidate disease agent responsible for asteroid mass mortality. virus | Asteroidea | disease | densovirus | wastingProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 11/2014; 111(48). · 9.81 Impact Factor