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Effects of temperature, season and locality on wasting disease in the keystone predatory sea star Pisaster ochraceus
journal contributionposted on 2023-05-17, 10:56 authored by Bates, AE, Hilton, BJ, Harley, CDG
This study investigates wasting disease in the northeast Pacific keystone predatory sea star Pisaster ochraceus on the outer west coast of Vancouver Island (British Columbia, Canada). To quantify the effects of temperature, season and locality on the vulnerability of P. ochraceus to wasting disease, we conducted surveys and experiments in early and late summer. To test the prediction that a small increase in temperature would result in heightened infection intensities, we housed sea stars at different temperatures in the laboratory and caged sea stars subtidally at 2 depths. Prevalence and infection intensity were always higher in warm temperature treatments and did not differ between the sexes or with increasing size. Disease effects also varied with season and locality. Specimens held in aquaria displayed significantly higher disease prevalence and infection intensity in June versus August. Furthermore, sea stars from a sheltered inlet showed markedly higher prevalence of the disease in late summer, while wave-exposed sites had consistently low disease prevalence. Seasonal changes in reproductive potential, host condition and/or physiological acclimation, as well as differences in environmental regime among localities, may impact the dynamics of wasting disease. These results demonstrate that small increases in temperature could drive mass mortalities of Pisaster due to wasting disease, with vulnerability possibly reaching a peak in spring and in populations from sheltered localities. This is the most northern report of wasting disease in the class Asteroidea on the west coast of North America.
Publication titleDiseases of Aquatic Organisms
Department/SchoolInstitute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
Place of publicationNordbunte 23, Oldendorf Luhe, Germany, D-21385
Rights statementCopyright 2009 Inter-Research