Population Dynamics of a Sponge Disease on Caribbean Reefs

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Population Dynamics of a Sponge Disease on Caribbean Reefs

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Title: Population Dynamics of a Sponge Disease on Caribbean Reefs
Author: Gochfeld, DJ; Easson, CG; Slattery, M; Thacker, RW; Olson, JB
Abstract: Sponges are important ecological components of Caribbean reefs and they are increasingly affected by diseases which threaten biodiversity and ecosystem services. Aplysina Red Band Syndrome (ARBS) affects sponges of the genus Aplysina and is widespread throughout the Caribbean basin. We have monitored the population dynamics of Aplysina cauliformis in the Bahamas to elucidate impacts of ARBS on this species. Temporal and spatial variability in sponge size and condition have been monitored using digital maps of two reefs in the Bahamas. We used spatial statistics to characterize the distribution of disease and identify patterns of transmission. Our results found that ARBS affects approximately 10 percent of A. cauliformis on Bahamian reefs. Diseased sponges occur in a clustered distribution on reefs and typically occur in close proximity to diseased sponges identified in earlier surveys. However, some diseased individuals occur away from other affected sponges, suggesting multiple mechanisms of transmission. Field and laboratory experiments confirmed contact as an efficient mode of transmission. ARBS is widespread in populations of A. cauliformis and the major mode of transmission for ARBS appears to be contact. However, ARBS is likely transmitted by other mechanisms either in the water column or by alternative vectors.
Description: American Academy of Underwater Sciences (http://www.aaus.org/)
URI: http://archive.rubicon-foundation.org/10327
Date: 2012

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