Investigation, [13] in Washington. Yes and Washington coasts. The syndrome is a general description of symptoms found in affected sea stars. Resources, No, Is the Subject Area "Epidemiology" applicable to this article? Sites not specifically listed above as requiring permits were either on public land or were surveyed by the organization in charge of granting access or permits (e.g., National Park Service). (2018) Large-scale impacts of sea star wasting disease (SSWD) on intertidal sea stars and implications for recovery. Sea Stars and Biodiversity. A virus has been linked to the disease that progresses from white lesions to loss of arms and ultimately death. Yes Project administration, This means that for year = i: Marine researchers say recent sea star wasting disease epidemic defies prediction. Carr, B.G. Surveys done in 2000–2013 are considered “pre-onset of SSWD” or “pre”, and 2014–2016 are considered “post-onset of SSWD” or “post”. The progression of visible signs of the disease can be rapid, on the scale of days. All-time high counts of juveniles were recorded in LTM plots in the post-SSWD period (2014–2016) at 16 of 46 sites in the regions north of Point Conception as opposed to 2 of 40 sites in regions to the south. “The geographic extent is vastly larger than we’ve seen before. Investigation, Sea star wasting disease demography and etiology in the brooding sea star Leptasterias spp. Supervision, Among regions, the generally densely populated north experienced only modest declines relative to the less densely populated south. It is important to note that the patterns described here are based on population declines documented by our annual or semiannual surveys, not on when disease symptoms were first observed. However, if these larger geographic recruitment trends continue, the outlook for recovery of P. ochraceus populations in the southern regions is poor, as numbers of juveniles recorded at the southern sites are orders of magnitude smaller than those recorded at many northern sites. Hewson feels that ocean conditions result in the production of exceptional amounts of organic material, which prompts bacteria to thrive. The degree of population decline was unrelated to pre-outbreak P. ochraceus density, although these factors have been linked in other well-documented disease events. At LTM sites where abundance of sea stars was initially high, three irregularly-shaped plots (20 to 160 m2) were established in areas of high P. ochraceus density, where individuals of all post-settlement life stages could be found; the exact configuration and plot size at a given site were dependent on available habitat and sea star density. We analyzed nearly two decades of data from a coordinated monitoring effort at 88 sites ranging from southern British Columbia to San Diego, California along with 2 sites near Sitka, Alaska to better understand the effects of sea star wasting disease (SSWD) on the keystone intertidal predator, Pisaster ochraceus. It was initially unnoticed by all but the most observant – the sea stars were disappearing along the West Coast, becoming victims of sea star wasting disease (SSWD). Results from recent surveys show that wasting syndrome has heavily impacted several species of sea stars at sites in the Puget Sound region, but the impact appears to be much lower farther to the north (along the northeast coast of Whidbey Island, in the San Juan Islands, and around Bellingham), and to the west along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. New Cornell-led research suggests that starfish, victims of sea star wasting disease (SSWD), may actually be in respiratory distress – literally “drowning” in their own environment – as elevated microbial activity derived from nearby organic matter and warm ocean temperatures rob the creatures of their ability to breathe. Project administration, Without the collection of coordinated environmental and biological data, we will be unable to develop large-scale forecasting tools that can allow researchers and managers to rapidly respond to future marine disease emergencies and help shape policies that could prevent or lessen the impact of these events [27]. Investigation, Data curation, El Sur Ranch allowed access to Andrew Molera. Marine Science Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, California, United States of America, Affiliation Sea star wasting disease broke out in 2013, causing massive death of several species of sea stars. First, the severe declines that have been documented for asteroids (including P. ochraceus) in subtidal habitats within the range of the SSWD outbreak give no indication of a subtidal refuge from the disease (e.g., [15,38]). Funding: Research by MARINe was primarily sponsored by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (https://www.boem.gov/, grant to PTR #443634 82772), the David and Lucile Packard Foundation (https://www.packard.org/, grant to PTR #443634 63620 BIPRIT), the National Science Foundation (grants to PTR #OCE-1737372 and OCE-1735607), the U.S. National Park Service (https://www.nps.gov/), and the State of California Ocean Protection Council (www.opc.ca.gov/, grant to PTR #0CA15032). It looks like disease is being transmitted.”, Hewson said that while more scientific work must be done, “This reframes the discussion about marine disease ecology, which has focused on pathogenic disease,” he said. PLoS One. obs; [12–14, 20]) or die. Project administration, Garner pers. The Sea Ranch Association allowed access to our site there. Writing – original draft, Yet despite the documented value of LTEES both for the field of ecology [44] and as the first critical step in responding to disease emergencies [8], funding to maintain existing LTEES is dwindling, and few new LTEES are being established [44]. Conceptualization, Marine Science Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, California, United States of America, Roles Our geographically broad data set provides important context for recruitment patterns previously highlighted by more regional studies. Sites are indicated by dots and study regions by labeled boxes. Densovirus associated with sea-star wasting disease and mass mortality. The disease has been linked to a virus, although environmental factors may also be involved. Yes Supervision, Sea star wasting syndrome is a general description of a set of symptoms that are found in sea stars. Low levels of SSWD-symptomatic sea stars are still present throughout the impacted range, thus the outlook for population recovery is uncertain. This is not the first documented disease outbreak in asteroids on the North American Pacific coast; since the 1970s, outbreaks of (uncharacterized) diseases have been documented in southern California [21], the Gulf of California [22], and British Columbia [23]. Following the onset of SSWD in 2013, substantial declines in intertidal P. ochraceus abundance occurred at nearly all sites, from Alaska to southern California (Fig 2). The wasting disease was first seen on ochre stars in June of 2013 off the coast of Data curation, Investigation, Quantitative surveys revealed unprecedented declines of P. ochraceus in 2014 and 2015 across nearly the entire geographic range of the species. Project administration, New Cornell-led research suggests that starfish, victims of sea star wasting disease (SSWD), may … Conceptualization, It is a generalist predator, with a diet that includes both sessile and mobile invertebrate prey items from multiple taxa (including annelid worms, barnacles, brachiopods, chitons, mussels, and whelks: [7,17–18]). It remains to be seen how the severe and persistent declines of P. ochraceus will impact the structure and make-up of rocky intertidal communities at this never-before documented scale. Yes https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0192870.g001. Methodology, obs.). It then rapidly began to lay waste to many as 20 different sea star species from Mexico to Alaska, said Gehman, a researcher with the University of British Columbia and the Hakai Institute. Writing – review & editing, Affiliations Resources, Writing – review & editing, Affiliation In fact, this short time-frame has led some pathologists to argue that “wasting” disease is a misnomer, as this term suggests a gradual reduction in body mass (M.M. Channel Islands National Park, Ventura, California, United States of America, Roles Yet despite patchy recruitment patterns and high mortality rates for juveniles, some fraction of the P. ochraceus that recruited after the SSWD outbreak did survive and transition into larger size classes (S2 Fig). Yes Supervision, Within the northern California region, for example, Damnation Creek, False Klamath Cove, and Bodega were among the most densely populated sites, but P. ochraceus decline at the less densely populated Alcatraz site was much more severe (Fig 2). Sea stars critical to kelp forest resilience. Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist. Since 2013, sea star wasting disease has “caused massive, ongoing mortality from Mexico to Alaska,” the study states. We use these data to: 1) present regional patterns of difference in the degree to which SSWD has impacted P. ochraceus populations, 2) examine whether sea star density might have played a role in disease severity, 3) explore the potential relationship between P. ochraceus decline and water temperature, which has been implicated as a contributing factor in prior wasting events, and 4) present spatial patterns in P. ochraceus recruitment and juvenile survival between pre-and post- outbreak periods that can be used to 5) assess the potential for recovery of P. ochraceus populations within SSWD-impacted areas. The recent suggestion of a linkage between susceptibility to SSWD and genotype within a documented polymorphism [39] might indicate that SSWD transmission is better modeled as a frequency-dependent process, in which transmission rates depend on the relative frequency of susceptible individuals in the population rather than on population density per se [29]: this is an intriguing avenue for continued investigation. Investigation, [8] recommend as the model response to disease outbreaks. Rather than observing only the aftermath—a team of researchers from UC Merced is reconstructing the population and genetic consequences of an epidemic outbreak of sea star wasting disease… Juvenile mortality due to SSWD was estimated as follows: In the period prior to onset of SSWD (pre), N2,i+1, j = N1ijDjSo,j where Dj = relative difference in detectability between stage 1 and stage 2 recruits at site j, and So,j = ordinary survivorship between stage 1 and stage 2 for site j. Prior to 2013, regional disease outbreaks had been implicated in punctuated and spatially isolated declines in P. ochraceus abundance along the North American Pacific coast from Baja California, Mexico [24] to British Columbia, Canada [23]. 2018; 13(3):e0192870 (ISSN: 1932-6203) Some lab studies have shown that short-term exposure to warmer water elevates SSWD prevalence, increasing the proportion of symptomatic individuals and the severity of the outbreak [23], while other studies indicate that temperature affects the onset of symptoms for P. ochraceus juveniles, but not for adults [13]. Visualization, e0192870. Oct 26, 2016. The largest non-commercial marine mass mortality event on record (as of 2013) created a 'natural experiment' and an opportunity to study genomic changes in wild populations with unprecedented detail. Over the past several years, apparent increases in the frequency of marine disease outbreaks [4] have led to repeated calls for a ‘multi-step’ approach to disease ecology (e.g., [2,25–27]). Sustained periods of anomalously high seawater temperatures were documented in 2014 and 2015 across all regions, and declines in populations of P. ochraceus were associated with these periods of elevated temperatures at some, but not all, regions (Fig 3). Investigation, According to Hewson, ocean conditions lead to the production of unusual amounts of organic material, which he said prompts bacteria to thrive. No, Is the Subject Area "Marine monitoring" applicable to this article? For example, mainland southern sites in Orange County are heavily sand influenced with low wave forces [49] and patchy, monolayered M. californianus beds (authors’ unpublished data: www.pacificrockyintertidal.org), a set of conditions under which P. ochraceus would not be expected to exert keystone predator effects [19]. Temperature loggers were installed in the mid-low intertidal zone, in areas that would afford some protection from waves and theft. Each of these components can vary among affected populations, thus it is necessary to have long-term coordinated monitoring of multiple populations in order to: a) build recovery benchmark targets based on specific data, b) make informed assessments of recovery at various scales (e.g. By contrast, declines generally occurred later and were less extreme in northern regions (San Francisco, CA north to Alaska), although timing of decline varied substantially among northern regions, and even among sites within these regions. A similar ‘spatially mixed’ pattern of recruitment within a region was reported by Eisenlord et al. Yes However, of our remaining four Oregon study sites, only one had higher than normal recruitment after the SSWD outbreak, resulting in a total of eight out of eleven sites in Oregon with higher than typical levels of ‘post-outbreak’ recruitment. Starting in late summer / fall 2013, each encountered star was assigned a disease category based on the 0–4 scale developed by Bates et al. PLoS One. Supervision, Multi-year monitoring programs allow researchers to characterize the range of natural variation in populations and thus to distinguish anomalies from natural fluctuations [45–46]. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0225248. The etiology of SSW is unresolved. Since 2013, millions of sea stars have died along the west coast of North America.These sea stars started showings bizarre symptoms. Writing – review & editing, Affiliation ... but may have exacerbated its impact in the period that followed. In the north, population crashes tended to be less severe than in regions further south. We have made similar direct observations of declines in numbers of subtidal asteroids at a subset of sites where both intertidal and subtidal surveys were conducted (P.T. The disease — known as sea star wasting syndrome — begins as a small lesion, and eventually results in the loss of limbs and ultimate disintegration and death of the leggy animal. In these circumstances, data from ongoing monitoring programs provide the best means of assessing the impact of this disease. This stimulates a group of bacteria called copiotrophs, which survive on carbon and rapidly consume organic matter, he said. Investigation, 2013 is indicated by a vertical line, and separates pre-SSWD years from post-SSWD years. Sea stars inhabiting the Northeast Pacific Coast have recently experienced an extensive outbreak of wasting disease, leading to their degradation and disappearance from many coastal areas. SSWD is currently affecting more than twenty species of sea stars in nine families. Large-scale impacts of sea star wasting disease (SSWD) on intertidal sea stars and implications for recovery. Without “pre-outbreak” data to provide historical context, it is impossible to evaluate the impact of the disease or the trajectory of recovery for a P. ochraceus population. Sewell and Watson [35] reported extremely low survivorship of P. ochraceus recruits smaller than 40 mm, exceeding 97% mortality over one year in a population with no reported symptoms of disease. (#33101) The white lesions on the arms of this sea star are the first sign of sea star wasting syndrome. PLoS One. [14]) also show high numbers of juveniles during this period. BOEM scientists assisted with data collection at some sites. Differences in plot size, tidal height, and habitat features among LTM sites complicate conversion of permanent plot counts to population density estimates, and thus preclude direct among-site comparisons of abundance from data collected using LTM methods. Sea Star Wasting Disease On the west coast of North America scientists have observed a great number of sea stars dying from a mysterious disease known as the sea star wasting disease. survivorship). P. ochraceus populations declined by at least 75% (compared to pre-SSWD means) at many (80%) sites, but only 2 of the 36 sites exhibited a decline > 99%. After the sea star wasting disease ravaged the sunflower sea star's populations along the Pacific west coast, the species has now been listed as "Critically Endangered". At LTM sites in British Columbia, Canada, whole-site counts (no sizes) of P. ochraceus were made within fixed spatial boundaries from 2008 to 2016. Software, Is the Subject Area "Ocean temperature" applicable to this article? Writing – original draft, However, the results of oceanographic modeling indicate dispersal events are generally more restricted and driven largely by surface currents, which is more relevant on an ecological scale (e.g., [48]). Fig 3. P. ochraceus is one of the most recognized species from the intertidal and shallow subtidal zones along this coast, with a broad geographic range from Prince William Sound Alaska, USA to Cedros Island, Baja California, Mexico [16]. Refer to S1A–S1H Fig for more detail. By combining data from MARINe groups with data from the University of British Columbia, we present data on populations of P. ochraceus at 90 rocky intertidal sites spanning the North American Pacific coast, from southeast Alaska to San Diego County, California (Fig 1, S1A–S1H Fig, S1 Table). (4). Sea stars are important members of intertidal and subtidal communities along the eastern Pacific coast, yet sea star numbers have been decimated in the past few years by sea star wasting disease (SSWD). Data from sites within U.S. National Parks was primarily collected by National Park Service scientists, who also assisted with manuscript preparation. These piers are located in protected sandy areas, which can have elevated temperatures as compared to rocky shores (Raimondi per. Thus, while consistent historic recruitment tended to be a good predictor of high post-SSWD recruitment, it was not a prerequisite. However, because all temperature data are presented as deviations from the long-term mean for a given date rather than actual temperatures, we assumed patterns to be representative of the region. Though many people still deny there is any climate change, effects of global warming can be observed all across the planet. When a disease outbreak affects a foundation species [5], ecosystem engineer [6] or keystone species [7], disease-induced changes in abundance, size structure, and individual behavior and performance can ripple through the entire ecosystem, causing substantial and long-term changes in system structure and function. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Geological Survey. The latest confirmed victim of rising temperature is starfish. “It’s a cascade of problems that starts with changes in the environment,” Hewson said, explaining that most of the organic matter comes from microscopic algae exudation (a discharge), zooplankton excretion and egestion, and from decaying animal carcasses. We used this published estimate of growth rate in our calculations, but among-site differences in rate of growth are certainly possible due to variation in factors such as prey availability and seawater temperature. However, our data indicate that the role of temperature in the initiation or intensification of the SSWD outbreak is still unclear. eCollection 2019. To date, we have received reports of at least 10 species of sea stars showing signs of infection. We greatly appreciate comments from two anonymous reviewers that strengthened the manuscript. Monitoring groups include: Sitka Sound Science Center (SSSC), University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC), University of British Columbia (UBC), Olympic National Park (ONP), Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (PBNERR), Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (OCNMS), Redwoods National and State Park (RNSP), Point Reyes National Seashore (PORE), Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GOGA), University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), California State University Fullerton (CSUF), California State Polytechnic University Pomona (CPP), Cabrillo National Monument (CABR), Channel Islands National Park (CHIS). 2019 Nov 21;14(11):e0225248. Water temperature strongly influences the metabolic rate of P. ochraceus [43], and plays an important role in thermoregulation during low tide [42]. PLOS ONE promises fair, rigorous peer review, Sea star wasting (SSW) disease describes a condition affecting asteroids that resulted in significant Northeastern Pacific population decline following a mass mortality event in 2013. Will the absence or sustained anomalously low abundance of this important intertidal predator ripple through the food web and result in long-term impacts at southern sites? Yet among these many possibilities, two factors stand out with strong potential for predicting disease affecting sea stars: temperature and population density. The incidence of sea star wasting syndrome has exploded along the Oregon Coast and created an epidemic of historic magnitude, one that threatens to decimate the entire population of purple ochre sea stars.Prior to this, Oregon had been the only part of the West coast that had been largely spared this devastating disease. We used these values to determine whether transition rates from our smallest size classes (10–20 mm) to the size class after an estimated 1 year of growth (50–60 mm) was impacted by SSWD. The research, “Evidence That Microorganisms at the Animal-Water Interface Drive Sea Star Wasting Disease,” was published on January 6, 2021, in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology.. Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, Port Angeles, Washington, United States of America, Roles Support was provided to CDGH by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Discovery Grant (RGPIN-2016-05441). Once a disease outbreak does occur, especially one associated with a mass mortality event [30], the ability to assess the degree of population recovery becomes critically important. Data curation, Evidence That Microorganisms at the Animal-Water Interface Drive Sea Star Wasting Disease, Biologist helps place starfish on critically endangered list, Scientists unravel complex factors of starfish diseases. (Photo by Melissa Miner) This sea star shows signs of complete tissue deterioration, the most severe category of sea star wasting syndrome, and is likely dead or dying. Supervision, (Photo by Ben Miner) By contrast, seawater temperature is a relatively easy metric to measure with existing temperature logger technology, and provides an accurate proxy of P. ochraceus body temperature while submerged (at high tide). Overall, because of this contrast between the large-scale geographic break (north/south) and smaller scale variability, the data suggest that a “general” pattern of recruitment for P. ochraceus may be difficult to describe, and consequently that our ability to predict the trajectory of recovery for any given site or region is limited. The research, “Evidence That Microorganisms at the Animal-Water Interface Drive Sea Star Wasting Disease,” was published Jan. 6 in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology. eCollection 2019. ... anomalously high seawater temperatures in 2014 and 2015 might have exacerbated the disease’s impact, as sea star declines continued in all regions. here. Only the mid to low zone contains habitat appropriate for P. ochraceus, thus when area sampled was calculated for each site, we subtracted the high zone portion of the swaths beyond which no P. ochraceus occurred. Finally, diseased stars were first noted in central and southern California in fall 2013, long before increased seawater temperatures were recorded, and population declines attributed to SSWD began prior to the onset of elevated seawater temperatures. Recently however, a severe disease outbreak occurred in a group of very well-studied organisms–sea stars along the west coast of North America. Discover a faster, simpler path to publishing in a high-quality journal. [13] reported that anomalous (elevated) seawater temperatures were linked to increased probability of SSWD presence at their sites on the San Juan Islands, WA. Although this mysterious disease had been observed in the years 1970, 1980, and 1990 scientists have never seen it affect so many sea stars on such a large scale. Along the Oregon coast, Menge at al. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0192870.g004. Examples of ‘marine disease emergencies’ [8] in which ecologically critical species have been affected by disease outbreaks and subsequent mass mortalities include eelgrass wasting disease (reviewed in [9]), white-band disease in reef-building corals [10], an unidentified pathogen affecting the tropical urchin Diadema antillarum [11] and, as reported here, sea star wasting disease (SSWD) in the ochre sea star Pisaster ochraceus. Investigation, No, Is the Subject Area "Starfish" applicable to this article? The data presented here demonstrate that recruitment and survivorship for P. ochraceus varies geographically, at both broad and localized scales, and also highlight the challenges of collecting basic life history data in the dynamic intertidal zone, where being cryptic is essential to juvenile survivorship, and unhealthy individuals do not persist for long. From Extension Specialist Jennifer O'Leary: Sea stars are an iconic symbol of California’s rocky intertidal habitats, inhabiting tide pools and low intertidal benches. Intertidal temperature data have been continuously recorded, typically at 15-minute intervals, at select sites from Washington to Point Conception, California, beginning as early as 1999 (with different start years for different sites). Pathogenic bacteria did not seem to be present, and though the plague might be caused by a viral or fungal pathogen, no causal agent had been found. No, Is the Subject Area "Islands" applicable to this article? For each site where stars were measured in LTM plots, the total number of juveniles counted per survey during annual sampling, or the mean total number for semiannual surveys, was compared over the period of study. The disease — known as sea star wasting syndrome — begins as a small lesion, and eventually results in the loss of limbs and ultimate disintegration and death of the leggy animal. We did not formally test the relationship between water temperature and sea star declines because the temporal scale of our population surveys was too coarse to capture the temporal scale at which P. ochraceus responds to its environment (e.g., [33]). Area searched ranged from 52 m2 to 3585 m2 among sites depending on the number of transects surveyed (typically 11) and the intertidal bench width. We have clues from small-scale studies [7,50], but the vast amount of coastline impacted by the current wasting event encompasses much more variation in the factors contributing to community structure than could ever be tested experimentally, and it is likely that our understanding of the role this keystone predator plays in shaping community structure will be revised and improved in the coming years. Last year, we wrote a post about the Sea Star Wasting Syndrome, a disease that was causing mass mortality of sea stars along the Pacific Coast from Baja California to the Gulf of Alaska. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 111(48): 17278-17283. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1416625111 Maps related to sea star wasting disease are listed below. “If you have a dead and rotting starfish next to starfish that are healthy, all of that dead one’s organic matter drifts and fuels the bacteria, creating a hypoxic environment. With a vast number of conditions and stressors that could be associated with any disease outbreak, identifying specific ‘warning signs’ and generating predictions for disease onset or impact are not simple tasks [4]. For sites that were sampled > 1 time year-1, the mean total number for that year is displayed. This is the largest marine disaster that has ever been recorded. Investigation, Furthermore, even relatively well-supported LTEES such as MARINe do not have access to emergency funding to rapidly respond to ecological disasters. We are grateful to the Makah Tribe and Quinault Nation, the Sea Ranch Association, Hopkins Marine Reserve, the Pebble Beach Company, El Sur Ranch, Bixby Management Inc., Hollister Ranch, and Vandenberg Air Force Base for access to sites, and to the Sitka Sound Science Center for field support in Alaska. Recruitment and survivorship to reproductive size are important components of population recovery estimates, but are often not well documented for species that are not commercially harvested. Writing – review & editing, Affiliation Eisenlord et al. A virus has been linked to the disease that progresses from white lesions to loss of arms and ultimately death. Sea star wasting disease, which is linked to a type of virus, is implicated in the sunflower stars’ decline, as it has been for about 20 other species. However, two lines of evidence suggest that this is unlikely. Supervision, Our geographically extensive data set shows that the intensity of the impact of SSWD was not uniform across the entire affected area, with proportionally greater population declines in the lower density southern regions (mainland southern California and the California Channel Islands) than in the higher density regions of northern California, Oregon, and Washington. 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Information about PLOS Subject areas, click here patterns or models of disease transmission that juvenile survivorship was substantially by. The progression of visible signs of the disease can be rapid, on Pacific! Pisco group at UCSC from the Pebble Beach Company to do surveys at Stillwater Cove symptoms that found! Our data indicate that the role of temperature in the absence of an integrated approach to ecology... Was happening in the water sea star wasting disease impact ” he said prompts bacteria to thrive provided by Bixby Management Inc. to. Our geographically broad data set provides important context for recruitment patterns previously by.

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