Seasonal prevalence of white plague like disease on the endemic Brazilian reef coral Mussismilia braziliensis
The reef coral Mussismilia braziliensis Verril, 1968 is endemic to the eastern Brazilian coast, representing a major reef-building species in the region. This coral is threatened by extinction due to the recent proliferation of a white-plague like (WPL) disease. Despite its severe impacts, the environmental factors leading to outbreaks of WPL disease are still poorly understood. This study describes the seasonal prevalence of WPL disease on M. braziliensis in the Abrolhos Bank, on the southern coast of Bahia Brazil. In situ estimates showed that WPL disease was about 4.5 times more prevalent in summer (January 2007, mean sea surface temperature 27.4°C) than in winter (July 2007, 25.0°C). This result suggests that the prevalence of WPL disease in M. braziliensis is temperature-dependent, supporting the hypothesis that warmer oceans are facilitating the proliferation of coral diseases worldwide.