Are diseases increasing in the ocean?

Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics
By: , and 



Many factors (climate warming, pollution, harvesting, introduced species) can contribute to disease outbreaks in marine life. Concomitant increases in each of these makes it difficult to attribute recent changes in disease occurrence or severity to any one factor. For example, the increase in disease of Caribbean coral is postulated to be a result of climate change and introduction of terrestrial pathogens. Indirect evidence exists that (a) warming increased disease in turtles; (b) protection, pollution, and terrestrial pathogens increased mammal disease; (c) aquaculture increased disease in mollusks; and (d) release from overfished predators increased sea urchin disease. In contrast, fishing and pollution may have reduced disease in fishes. In other taxa (e.g., sea grasses, crustaceans, sharks), there is little evidence that disease has changed over time. The diversity of patterns suggests there are many ways that environmental change can interact with disease in the ocean.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Are diseases increasing in the ocean?
Series title Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics
DOI 10.1146/annurev.ecolsys.35.021103.105704
Volume 35
Year Published 2004
Language English
Publisher Annual Reviews
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 24 p.
First page 31
Last page 54