Acropora palmata

Effects of tropical storm Bret on Curaçao reefs

Here we report on damage caused by tropical storm Bret, passing south of the island of Curacao at a distance of 110-145 km in August 1993. Damage on marine life was surveyed 2 weeks after the storm at five localities along the leeward coast of the island. Severe damage was recorded for the scleractinian corals Acropora palmata and Millepora complanata. Dendrogyra cylindrus was incidentally damaged in shallow water, <5 m.

Date
1995
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Curacao

Human Pathogen Shown to Cause Disease in the Threatened Elkhorn Coral Acropora palmata

Abstract:

Coral reefs are in severe decline. Infections by the human pathogen Serratia marcescens have contributed to precipitous losses in the common Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, culminating in its listing under the United States Endangered Species Act. During a 2003 outbreak of this coral disease, called acroporid serratiosis (APS), a unique strain of the pathogen, Serratia marcescens strain PDR60, was identified from diseased A. palmata, human wastewater, the non-host coral Siderastrea siderea and the corallivorous snail Coralliophila abbreviata. In order to examine humans as a source and other marine invertebrates as vectors and/or reservoirs of the APS pathogen, challenge experiments were conducted with A. palmata maintained in closed aquaria to determine infectivity of strain PDR60 from reef and wastewater sources. Strain PDR60 from wastewater and diseased A. palmata caused disease signs in elkhorn coral in as little as four and five days, respectively, demonstrating that wastewater is a definitive source of APS and identifying human strain PDR60 as a coral pathogen through fulfillment of Koch’s postulates. A. palmata inoculated with strain PDR60 from C. abbreviata showed limited virulence, with one of three inoculated fragments developing APS signs within 13 days. Strain PDR60 from non-host coral S. siderea showed a delayed pathogenic effect, with disease signs developing within an average of 20 days. These results suggest that C. abbreviata and non-host corals may function as reservoirs or vectors of the APS pathogen. Our results provide the first example of a marine ‘‘reverse zoonosis’’ involving the transmission of a human pathogen (S. marcescens) to a marine invertebrate (A. palmata). These findings underscore the interaction between public health practices and environmental health indices such as coral reef survival. 

Date
2011
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Research and monitoring
Journal

Coral growth rates revisited after 31 years: What is causing lower extension rates in Acropora palmata?

Linear extension of branches in the same Acropora palmata (Lamarck, 1816) population in Curaçao was measured, employing exactly the same methods, in 1971–1973 and in 2002–2004, and the resulting coral growth rates are compared. Linear growth shows the same pattern over seasons in both periods with growth being significantly higher in summer than in winter. Growth in the 2002–2004 time interval was significantly slower than in 1971–1973. Mean monthly growth ranged from 0.69 cm (winter) to 0.81 cm (summer) in 1971–1973 and from 0.62 cm (winter) to 0.75 cm (summer) in 2002–2004. This means that linear growth rates in 2002–2004 were 7.2% lower in summer and 10.7% lower in winter compared with 1971–1973. Considering possible causative environmental factors relating to these decreases in growth rate, we cannot preclude the possibility that a change in ocean pH could be responsible for the drop in extension rate.

Date
2009
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Research and monitoring

Ocean acidification compromises recruitment success of the threatened Caribbean coral Acropora palmata

Ocean acidification (OA) refers to the ongoing decline in oceanic pH resulting from the uptake of atmospheric CO2. Mounting experimental evidence suggests that OA will have negative consequences for a variety of marine organisms. Whereas the effect of OA on the calcification of adult reef corals is increasingly well documented, effects on early life history stages are largely unknown. Coral recruitment, which necessitates successful fertilization, larval settlement, and postsettlement growth and survivorship, is critical to the persistence and resilience of coral reefs. To determine whether OA threatens successful sexual recruitment of reef-building corals, we tested fertilization, settlement, and postsettlement growth of Acropora palmata at pCO2 levels that represent average ambient conditions during coral spawning (∼400 μatm) and the range of pCO2 increases that are expected to occur in this century [∼560 μatm (mid-CO2) and ∼800 μatm (high-CO2)]. Fertilization, settlement, and growth were all negatively impacted by increasing pCO2, and impairment of fertilization was exacerbated at lower sperm concentrations. The cumulative impact of OA on fertilization and settlement success is an estimated 52% and 73% reduction in the number of larval settlers on the reef under pCO2 conditions projected for the middle and the end of this century, respectively. Additional declines of 39% (mid-CO2) and 50% (high-CO2) were observed in postsettlement linear extension rates relative to controls. These results suggest that OA has the potential to impact multiple, sequential early life history stages, thereby severely compromising sexual recruitment and the ability of coral reefs to recover from disturbance

Date
2010
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Research and monitoring