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Differential disease incidence and mortality of inner and outer reef corals of the upper Florida Keys in association with a white syndrome outbreak

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The Florida Keys Reef Tract has suffered extraordinary losses in live coral cover over the past four decades and is now battling an unprecedented coral disease outbreak. Here, colonies of Siderastrea siderea and Pseudodiploria strigosa were tracked over three years (2015–2017) across two pairs of inner and outer reef sites in the upper Keys, offering a unique perspective into the distribution of disease throughout the reef tract. We found that outer reef colonies of both coral species exhibited greater disease incidence and mortality associated with this ongoing epidemic, while inner patch reef colonies remained largely unaffected. These findings suggest that ecological or biological factors that differentiate coral populations across these reef zones may play an important role in susceptibility to disease.
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Affiliations: 1: Department of Marine Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 3202 Murray Hall, Chapel Hill, NC, USA 2: Department of Biology, Boston University, 5 Cummington Mall, Boston, MA, USA 3: Environment, Ecology and Energy Program, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 3202 Murray Hall, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.

Appeared or available online: 05 December 2018

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