Towards Predicting coral disease patterns: quantifying coral responses to disease in the US Virgin Islands
NOAA, NOS, Office for Coastal Management
"Coral diseases are a major driver of coral decline within reef habitats of the U.S. Virgin Islands, including those within the protective boundaries of federal and territorial reserves. The overall objective of this study is to identify consistent patterns in the responses of corals and coral populations to disease. Our central hypothesis is that corals respond predictably to conditions leading to diseased states at both physiological and ecological scales. The ultimate goal of this research is to use these patterns in order to develop predictive tools of disease incidence and impact. We will apply techniques including gene expression profiling (transcriptomics) and histology to identify common responses of corals to disease across multiple diseases and species. Coral disease patterns at the population scale will also be investigated in response to variable levels of local and regional stressors through high frequency, spatially extensive surveys. This proposal will result in a greater understanding coral mortality processes driven by disease in the USVI, while also providing scientific training for a local graduate student. This information can be used to identify critical management interventions to prevent or mitigate the impacts of coral disease, directly addressing the CRCP objective of managing for resilience to climate change in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Results will be communicated to the scientific and management community through presentations at local venues and publications."
FY12; CRCP Project ID: 198; Project Title: Domestic Coral Reef Conservation Grant Programs; Principal Investigator: Jenny Waddell; CRCP Grant Number: NA12NOS4820073