Nav: Home

Long-term monitoring reveals effects of sea star wasting along Oregon coast

May 04, 2016

The 2013-2014 sea star wasting epidemic along the Oregon Coast may have been caused by multiple factors and had significant effects on the sea star population and its prey in the area, according to a study published May 4, 2016 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Bruce Menge from Oregon State University, USA, and colleagues.

As keystone predators, sea stars affect the biodiversity and abundance of intertidal species. The recent 2013-2014 outbreak of sea star wasting, a viral disease, affected 20 species from Baja California to Alaska, making it among the largest known marine epidemics. The effects of the wasting are severe; afflicted sea stars may lose arms and disintegrate, appearing to "melt." The epidemic reached Oregon in April 2014 and spread along most of the coast by June, infecting about 90 percent of sea stars. Taking advantage of ongoing long-term research and monitoring in the area, the authors of this study tracked the epidemic by performing nearly 150 surveys of the dominant sea star species as well as their mussel prey living in the rocky intertidal habitats at nine sites along the Oregon coast between spring 2014 and fall 2015.

The researchers found that as many as 80 percent of the populations died at the study sites during the epidemic, which occurred during cool water temperatures driven by summer upwelling. Wasting disproportionately affected adults over juveniles, and sea stars in tide pools.

By spring 2015, the authors found that the population was recovering in numbers: study sites had up to 300 times as many new sea stars as in 2014. This recovery may be due to the increased availability of small prey, like mussels, resulting from the previous year's sea star loss. The authors hope that these efforts will aid in calling for a coast-wide investigation of how the wasting epidemic affected intertidal communities along North America's western shores.

Bruce Menge notes: "In contrast to other locations along the US west coast, sea star wasting disease increased during a period of cool, not warm temperatures, suggesting that the cause of wasting outbreaks is multifactorial. Although up to 84% of local populations died, a massive recruitment of sea stars occurred the following spring, suggesting the possibility of rapid recovery."
-end-
In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available paper: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0153994

Citation: Menge BA, Cerny-Chipman EB, Johnson A, Sullivan J, Gravem S, Chan F (2016) Sea Star Wasting Disease in the Keystone Predator Pisaster ochraceus in Oregon: Insights into Differential Population Impacts, Recovery, Predation Rate, and Temperature Effects from Long-Term Research. PLoS ONE 11(5): e0153994. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0153994

Funding: This research was funded by grants from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation (https://www.packard.org), the Kingfisher Foundation (http://www.kingfisherfoundation.org), NSF (http://www.nsf.gov; OCE14-48913), and endowments from the Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation (http://fdnweb.org/wgvalley). This is publication 453 from PISCO, the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans, funded in part by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

PLOS

Related Sea Stars Articles:

And then there was light: looking for the first stars in the Universe
Astronomers are closing in on a signal that has been travelling across the Universe for 12 billion years, bringing them nearer to understanding the life and death of the very earliest stars.
Massive stars grow same way as light stars, just bigger
Astronomers obtained the first detailed face-on view of a gaseous disk feeding the growth of a massive baby star.
Our history in the stars
Astronomers map the substance aluminum monoxide (AlO) in a cloud around a distant young star -- Origin Source I.
Stars exploding as supernovae lose their mass to companion stars during their lives
Stars over eight times more massive than the sun end their lives in supernovae explosions.
A nearby river of stars
Astronomy & Astrophysics publishes the work of researchers from the University of Vienna, who have found a river of stars, a stellar stream in astronomical parlance, covering most of the southern sky.
Merging neutron stars
The option to measure the gravitational waves of two merging neutron stars has offered the chance to answer some of the fundamental questions about the structure of matter.
Bubbles of brand new stars
This dazzling region of newly forming stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) was captured by the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer instrument (MUSE) on ESO's Very Large Telescope.
Once-abundant sea stars imperiled by disease along West Coast
Ocean warming and an infectious wasting disease has devastated populations of large sunflower sea stars once abundant along the West Coast of North America in just a few years, according to research co-led by the University of California, Davis, and Cornell University.
Falling stars hold clue for understanding dying stars
An international team of researchers has proposed a new method to investigate the inner workings of supernovae explosions.
Scientists elaborated upon carbon sink/source patterns of the Yellow Sea and East China Sea
The sinks/sources of carbon in the Yellow Sea and East China Sea exert great influences on coastal ecosystem dynamics and regional climate change process.
More Sea Stars News and Sea Stars Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.