• Baseline coral disease surveys within three marine parks in Sabah, Borneo

      Sweet, Michael J.; Wood, Elizabeth; Miller, Jennifer; Bythell, John C.; University of Derby; School of Biology, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK; School of Biology, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK; Marine Conservation Society, Ross-On-Wye, UK; School of Biology, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK (PeerJ Inc., 2015-11-03)
      Two of the most significant threats to coral reefs worldwide are bleaching and disease. However, there has been a scarcity of research on coral disease in South-East Asia, despite the high biodiversity and the strong dependence of local communities on the reefs in the region. This study provides baseline data on coral disease frequencies within three national parks in Sabah, Borneo, which exhibit different levels of human impacts and management histories. High mean coral cover (55%) and variable disease frequency (mean 0.25 diseased colonies m−2) were found across the three sites. Highest disease frequency (0.44 diseased colonies per m 2) was seen at the site closest to coastal population centres. Bleaching and pigmentation responses were actually higher at Sipadan, the more remote, offshore site, whereas none of the other coral diseases detected in the other two parks were detected in Sipadan. Results of this study offer a baseline dataset of disease in these parks and indicate the need for continued monitoring, and suggest that coral colonies in parks under higher anthropogenic stressors and with lower coral cover may be more susceptible to contracting disease.