Coral disease & epizootiology of marine organisms
Accelerating coral reef decline
Reports of disease outbreaks in marine organisms have increased significantly in the past few decades. Diseases in corals have severely impacted many coral reef ecosystems in the Western Atlantic and were implicated in the dramatic decline of acroporids in the Florida Keys. In the Indo-Pacific disease may also on the rise with coral disease outbreaks recently reported from the GBR, Marshall Islands and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
New studies show that corals in the Central and Western Pacific are dying faster than previously expected.
Similarly, marine vertebrate including sea turtles, Hawaiian monk seals, and other endangered fauna have been subject to epizootics or increasing pathogen exposure apparently associated with increasing ocean pollution including “pathogen pollution” via terrestrial runoff. Understanding marine disease is increasingly important to address the problem of marine biodiversity loss, anticipated global climate change and the escalating anthropogenic stressors including those of terrestrial origins affecting marine ecosystems. Click here for more examples of specific research problems IGERT Participating Faculty are planning to address or already carrying research using a transdisciplinary approach.