“When diseases cluster they are usually contagious and are spreading rapidly. When they don’t cluster, environmental stress is usually the cause,” explained Muller. Mapping diseases can also help determine how quickly a disease spreads.
By mapping three different coral diseases in the Caribbean, they concluded that they were not contagious.
“These coral diseases in the Caribbean are likely caused by stress,” said van Woesik, “and that stress is the warming seas that are the result of climate change.”
“We more easily catch a cold when we are stressed, and corals are likewise responding to stress by getting sick,” said van Woesik. “The ocean will continue to warm, increasing the likelihood of coral diseases.”
To learn more:
Find the results published today in Global Change Biology: Caribbean coral diseases: primary transmission or secondary infection?
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