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Introduction | Identification | Impacts | Causes | Actions | More Info
|Coral diseases are caused by pathogenic microorganisms that infect individual coral species, coral populations, and entire reef ecosystems. Many coral diseases often result in the death of infected corals. Disease-related coral mortality may lead to changes in species diversity by removing common and locally abundant species (Garzon-Ferreira and Zea 1992). In some areas of the Caribbean for example, white band disease has killed over 90 percent of acroporid colonies that formerly dominated reef-crest and fore-reef habitats (Aronson and Precht 1997).|
In addition, the prevalence of disease may be higher in coral populations that are stressed by mechanical damage or pollution. Corals respond to chemical and sediment stress by secreting mucus. Where this becomes excessive, the mucus can harbor bacteria, with fatal consequences to coral (Clark 1996).
In the Caribbean, it has been shown that coral diseases have the potential to restructure entire reef ecosystems (Aronson and Precht 1997). This change in coral diversity may have other ecological impacts on reef fish and invertebrates, ultimately affecting local fishing, collecting, and tourism activities that are dependent on healthy, vibrant coral reefs.
|Herpolitha sp. with possibly white spots disease.
Location: Tar Yar Island, Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar
Photo by: Georg Heiss
(from ReefBase: http://www.reefbase.org)|