Presentation Title

“Spatial patterns in parasite prevalence and load on a coral host suggests parasitism is driven by anthropogenic stress in Mo’orea, French Polynesia”

Start Date

November 2016

End Date

November 2016

Location

HUB 302-#84

Type of Presentation

Poster

Abstract

Authors: Ashlyn Ford*, Richard Laplace*, J David Munoz*, Sennai Habtes, Paul Barber, Peggy Fong, and Caitlin Fong

*First three authors contributed equally to this research

Parasites are important but understudied, particularly in marine systems, and their relationship to anthropogenic stress remains relatively unknown. In July 2016, we observed high prevalence and dense aggregations of a parasitic trematode on the host coral, Porites spp. in Mo’orea, French Polynesia. This parasite infects individual coral polyps and is characterized by a raised, pink polyp targeted by butterfly fish, an intermediate host. We conducted surveys of parasite prevalence (proportion of hosts infected) and load (measured here as density per area of coral) to determine whether parasitism varied with anthropogenic stress. Data from 200 transects showed that prevalence was highest in the bays and lowest in lagoonal back reef. We quantified parasite load (# of infected polyps per 100 cm² of coral) with visual observations and photographs on randomly-selected colonies at low, medium, and high prevalence sites. In the low and medium sites, the majority of colonies (80-95%) had no parasites; maximum loads were 1800/100 cm2 in the low prevalence site and 4533/100 cm2 in the medium prevalence site. In contrast, almost all colonies in the high prevalence site had values over an order of magnitude higher. This study provides a baseline for future investigations into the relationship between anthropogenic stress and parasite prevalence and load that will help increase our understanding of these understudied associations.

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Nov 12th, 4:00 PM Nov 12th, 5:00 PM

“Spatial patterns in parasite prevalence and load on a coral host suggests parasitism is driven by anthropogenic stress in Mo’orea, French Polynesia”

HUB 302-#84

Authors: Ashlyn Ford*, Richard Laplace*, J David Munoz*, Sennai Habtes, Paul Barber, Peggy Fong, and Caitlin Fong

*First three authors contributed equally to this research

Parasites are important but understudied, particularly in marine systems, and their relationship to anthropogenic stress remains relatively unknown. In July 2016, we observed high prevalence and dense aggregations of a parasitic trematode on the host coral, Porites spp. in Mo’orea, French Polynesia. This parasite infects individual coral polyps and is characterized by a raised, pink polyp targeted by butterfly fish, an intermediate host. We conducted surveys of parasite prevalence (proportion of hosts infected) and load (measured here as density per area of coral) to determine whether parasitism varied with anthropogenic stress. Data from 200 transects showed that prevalence was highest in the bays and lowest in lagoonal back reef. We quantified parasite load (# of infected polyps per 100 cm² of coral) with visual observations and photographs on randomly-selected colonies at low, medium, and high prevalence sites. In the low and medium sites, the majority of colonies (80-95%) had no parasites; maximum loads were 1800/100 cm2 in the low prevalence site and 4533/100 cm2 in the medium prevalence site. In contrast, almost all colonies in the high prevalence site had values over an order of magnitude higher. This study provides a baseline for future investigations into the relationship between anthropogenic stress and parasite prevalence and load that will help increase our understanding of these understudied associations.