[Coral-List] Overfishing and nutrient pollution interact with temperature to disrupt coral reefs down to microbial scales

Rebecca Vega Thurber rvegathurber at gmail.com
Tue Jun 7 16:42:37 EDT 2016

Coral list,
  Please find below the link and the abstract to our new open access
article at *Nature Communications, *describing the results of a three-year
field experiment to test the interactions between overfishing, nutrient
pollution, and temperature on coral reef benthic communities, coral
microbiomes, and coral growth, disease, and mortality.


Abstract: Losses of corals worldwide emphasize the need to understand what
drives reef decline. Stressors such as overfishing and nutrient pollution
may reduce resilience of coral reefs by increasing coral–algal competition
and reducing coral recruitment, growth and survivorship. Such effects may
themselves develop via several mechanisms, including disruption of coral
microbiomes. Here we report the results of a 3-year field experiment
simulating overfishing and nutrient pollution. These stressors increase
turf and macroalgal cover, destabilizing microbiomes, elevating putative
pathogen loads, increasing disease more than twofold and increasing
mortality up to eightfold. Above-average temperatures exacerbate these
effects, further disrupting microbiomes of unhealthy corals and
concentrating 80% of mortality in the warmest seasons. Surprisingly,
nutrients also increase bacterial opportunism and mortality in corals
bitten by parrotfish, turning normal trophic interactions deadly for
corals. Thus, overfishing and nutrient pollution impact reefs down to
microbial scales, killing corals by sensitizing them to predation,
above-average temperatures and bacterial opportunism.

In addition to this main article, Dr. Burkepile and I wrote a compendium
article at the *Conversation* to communicate the aims, experimental design,
and outcomes of the experiment to a wider audience. Below is the link to
that article.


We will be presenting some of these findings along with addition
unpublished data on the topic at ICRS in less than two weeks. We hope to
see you there. If you have any questions about the article or experiment,
please direct them to Dr. Zaneveld (lead author), Dr. Burkepile (lead
and corresponding author), or myself (corresponding author).


Dr. Rebecca Vega Thurber
Associate Professor of Microbiology
Oregon State University
454 Nash Hall
Corvallis OR  97331-3804, U.S.A
541-737-1851 (office) 541-737-0496 (FAX)
rvegathurber at gmail.com;Rebecca.Vega-Thurber at oregonstate.edu
<Rebecca.Vega.Thurber at oregonstate.edu>

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