Nova Southeastern University 3301 College Avenue Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33314 Judy Layne: email@example.com Ashley Marranzino: firstname.lastname@example.org
Elizabeth Murphy McDonald
Coral reefs face a number of threats that have led to their widespread decline in recent decades, including warming sea temperatures and ocean acidification. In recent years, coral disease has also emerged as one of the most pressing and unpredictable threats to coral reefs. This is particularly true in the Caribbean, which is known as a ‘disease hotspot’ for its uniquely high prevalence and frequency of disease. Today, the Florida Reef Tract is experiencing a highly lethal, multi-year, multi-species coral disease outbreak that has already spread through hundreds of kilometers of reef since its origination in 2014. This current disease outbreak is unprecedented in its scale and anticipated damage, necessitating important research to understand more about its biology and cause.
Three of the five species of sea turtles that inhabit South Florida waters nest on Broward County (BC) beaches: loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta), green turtles (Chelonia mydas), and leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea). Loggerhead and green turtles constitute 95% and 5% of nests, respectively; less than 1% of sea turtle nesting in BC is attributed to leatherback turtles (Burkholder and Slagle 2017). The U.S. Endangered Species Act lists both loggerhead and green turtles as threatened, and both species are listed under Appendix I by the World Conservation Union (IUCN 2018). These species are further protected under Florida state statutes through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), granting international and federal protection.
Since the 1970s, populations of the reef-building coral Acropora cervicornis have rapidly declined throughout the Caribbean. Consequently, it has been listed as critically endangered under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List and threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Population losses in the Caribbean have reached up to 98% in some areas and have primarily been attributed to white-band disease (WBD) and rapid tissue loss (RTL). A positive linear relationship between disease prevalence and increased water temperature has been described, however, the pathogens of WBD and RTL, their vectors, and their transmission are poorly understood. With an estimated average sea-surface temperature rise of 1.8‒4.0 °C by the end of the 21st century, higher incidences of coral bleaching and disease outbreak are predicted.
The open-ocean waters of the Gulf of Mexico have a vastly different array of fishes at night than during the day. Deep-sea (> 200 m depth) fishes migrate upwards to shallower waters at night to feed on small crustaceans, and are consumed by commercially important fishes, such as tunas and billfishes. Once eaten, the parasites of the prey fish are transferred to their next host to complete their life cycle. I have found that specific parasites can be found in specific fishes. Different fishes also eat different types of crustaceans, potentially being a necessary mechanism for parasites to move from one life stage to the next.