Formal analysis, Writing – review & editing, Affiliation Thus, body temperatures cannot be accurately characterized by proxies such as air or substratum temperature, but this instead requires specialized thermal mimics . Most of these surveys were completed by partners in the Multi-Agency Rocky Intertidal Network (MARINe), who have been working with a standardized set of monitoring protocols to study community dynamics in rocky intertidal systems for up to 25 years. Yet despite the documented value of LTEES both for the field of ecology  and as the first critical step in responding to disease emergencies , funding to maintain existing LTEES is dwindling, and few new LTEES are being established . Densovirus associated with sea-star wasting disease and mass mortality. 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. Each episode of plague might have a different cause. Special thanks to The Nature Conservancy, who owns and manages the UC NRS on Santa Cruz Island. Supervision, Aug 13, 2018. 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. Investigation, Methodology, 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). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0192870.g002. However, two lines of evidence suggest that this is unlikely. 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. Investigation, Individuals with a radius between 3 and 7 mm were recorded in the ‘5 mm’ radius bin. Methodology, 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. “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. 12/14/2017; 8 minutes. According to Hewson, ocean conditions lead to the production of unusual amounts of organic material, which he said prompts bacteria to thrive. In the CBS protocol, P. ochraceus were counted along 2 meter-wide vertical swaths, which extended from the very high intertidal zone to the very low intertidal zone (to the lowest emersed point during low tides). 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 echo the statements of other authors in that the evidence of recruitment and persistence of juvenile P. ochraceus at some sites leaves us ‘hopeful for recovery’  in at least a portion of the sea star’s range. Citation: Miner CM, Burnaford JL, Ambrose RF, Antrim L, Bohlmann H, Blanchette CA, et al. Investigation, 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… Channel Islands National Park, Ventura, California, United States of America, Roles Software, Populations of the sunflower sea star suffered dramatic crashes because of a marine wildlife epidemic event, referred to as sea star wasting syndrome, that began in 2013. Garner pers. Authored by by Chris Iovenko Wordcount January 30, 2019 | 750 words, about 3 minutes Share this article. 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. Second, the persistently low abundance of individuals observed in our post-onset of SSWD intertidal surveys through 2016 lends no support for the conclusion that our sites harbored pools of healthy subtidal P. ochraceus individuals and thus that our intertidal surveys over-estimated the degree of disease impact at our sites. Miner, and Channel Islands NP unpublished data). 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). Yet among these many possibilities, two factors stand out with strong potential for predicting disease affecting sea stars: temperature and population density. Olympic National Park, Port Angeles, Washington, United States of America, Roles We thank Lisa Gilbane and Mary Elaine Helix, our BOEM program managers, for their vision and encouragement of this long-term monitoring effort. Work at other California sites (including Marine Protected Areas) was authorized by California DFW permits SC-4055, SC-3124, SC-8187, SC-10589, and SC-003922. Writing – review & editing, Roles Writing – review & editing. Supervision, Marine researchers say recent sea star wasting disease epidemic defies prediction. Along the Oregon coast, Menge at al. Sea star wasting disease broke out in 2013, causing massive death of several species of sea stars. Click through the PLOS taxonomy to find articles in your field. P. ochraceus individuals do move between the intertidal and subtidal zones, and our surveys did not extend into the subtidal zone; thus it is possible that our data overestimated population declines at our sites if P. ochraceus individuals persisted in large numbers in subtidal refugia. SSWD is currently affecting more than twenty species of sea stars in nine families. 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  to British Columbia, Canada . In the north, population crashes tended to be less severe than in regions further south. This is the largest marine disaster that has ever been recorded. BOEM scientists assisted with data collection at some sites. 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 a time when marine diseases and mass mortalities are on the rise, this study documents the impact of little-known wildlife diseases and potential trajectory of recovery in a keystone marine species. Diseased sea stars were first reported by researchers at Olympic National Park, Washington, who had been collecting population data on P. ochraceus for several years as part of the MARINe network. No, Is the Subject Area "Marine monitoring" applicable to this article? Regional maps of study sites: Panel A in S1 Fig) Alaska sites, Panel B in S1 Fig) British Columbia sites, Panel C in S1 Fig) Washington sites, Panel D in S1 Fig) Oregon sites, Panel E in S1 Fig) Northern California sites, Panel F in S1 Fig) Central California sites, Panel G in S1 Fig) Southern California mainland sites, Panel H in S1 Fig) Southern California Channel Island Sites. Similarly, our lack of understanding of the agent or agents responsible for the current SSWD outbreak hindered our ability to make predictions about the timing and pattern of the outbreak. Sea star wasting disease demography and etiology in the brooding sea star Leptasterias spp. Project administration, Furthermore, communication beyond the MARINe network facilitated exactly the sort of rapid and effective outreach to the public, the media, and additional researchers that Groner et al. We assessed the impacts of sea star wasting disease in the Salish Sea, a Canadian / United States transboundary marine ecosystem, and world-wide hotspot for temperate asteroid species diversity with a high degree of … Sea star wasting disease broke out in 2013, causing massive death of several species of sea stars. Because P. ochraceus surveys in northern California are primarily conducted in the summer, the precise timing of initial SSWD emergence in this region is unknown, but population declines had occurred by summer 2014, when symptomatic stars were observed. While elevated seawater temperatures were not broadly linked to the initial emergence of SSWD, anomalously high seawater temperatures in 2014 and 2015 might have exacerbated the disease’s impact. 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). 2010, Fig 3). Department of Biological Sciences, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, California, United States of America, Roles Although “wasting disease” had been documented in P. ochraceus before 2013, the etiology of those outbreaks is not known [23,24,36] and may well have varied among locations and outbreak events . doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0225248. Across the board, these calls highlight the importance of surveillance of potentially susceptible populations to enable quick detection of disease outbreaks, and subsequently emphasize that the ultimate goal is to predict outbreaks before they appear or spread. “Sea stars diffuse oxygen over their outer surface through little structures called papulae, or skin gills. age = 9 months) grew to approximately 60 mm in size after 1 year. In addition, these all-time high, post-SSWD juvenile counts at northern sites tended to be orders of magnitude greater (63% had counts > 100, max count = 702 juveniles) than at southern sites (counts = 6 and 20 juveniles). 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. Now scientists believe that it may be respiratory distress. A virus has been linked to the disease that progresses from white lesions to loss of arms and ultimately death. In the absence of an identified pathogen, outbreak predictions must be based on more generalized patterns or models of disease transmission. 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. This SSWD epidemic is a perfect example of an ‘ecological surprise’  that underscores the need for long-term ecological and environmental studies (LTEES). A healthy starfish is presented in Ian Hewson's laboratory. In Washington, work at Post Point was conducted under Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) permit # 120720–1 and access to sites on Makah land and the Quinault Nation was granted to Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (NMS) for all surveys. Visualization, There was no relationship between severity of decline and the interaction between density and region suggesting that any relationship between density and severity was unaffected by region (F1, 50 = 0.4544, p = 0.8818). Conceptualization, (#33101) eCollection 2019. 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 . 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. For more than seven years, a mysterious wasting disease has nearly killed off sea star populations around the world. While there is no strong evidence from our data to support elevated seawater temperatures as a factor contributing to the initial emergence of SSWD, sustained, anomalously high seawater temperatures in 2014 and 2015 might have exacerbated the disease’s impact, as sea star declines continued in all regions. Discover a faster, simpler path to publishing in a high-quality journal. The problem surfaced in 2013, when sea star wasting disease sea was spotted along the British Columbia and Washington coasts. Funding acquisition, 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). However, our data do show that the intensity of the outbreak was elevated in warmer-water southern regions relative to cooler northern areas. – For more than seven years, a mysterious wasting disease has nearly killed off sea star populations around the world. Data curation, Here we have combined data from several long-term monitoring programs from mainland and island sites along the North American Pacific coast, ranging from Sitka, Alaska to San Diego, California. Department of Biological Science, California State University, Fullerton, California, United States of America, Roles For more than seven years, a mysterious wasting disease has nearly killed off sea star populations around the world. Since 2013, sea star wasting disease has “caused massive, ongoing mortality from Mexico to Alaska,” the study states. Supervision, Because of changes in temperature logger technology, three different data loggers (all from Onset Computer Corporation) have been used over time: HOBO pendant UA-002-64, HOBO UTBI-001 TidbiT, and HOBO UTBI-001 TidbiT v2. Roles Physical site characteristics such as rock type, bench slope and size, wave exposure, temperature (both air and water), and sand influence vary substantially across this broad stretch of coastline, but all sites contained appropriate habitat for P. ochraceus. 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. Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, Port Angeles, Washington, United States of America, Roles Investigation, In addition, the pattern of sustained regular observations puts researchers in a position where they can witness rare events that may otherwise go unnoticed with a snapshot or short-term study . https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0192870.s001, Sizes are radial measurements (see methods) and surveys are labeled as spring (Feb-Apr) or fall (Oct-Nov) samples for a given year. Sites are indicated by dots and study regions by labeled boxes. Therefore for any site and pre/post year combination: The etiology of SSW is unresolved. 2018; 13(3):e0192870 (ISSN: 1932-6203) In 2013, a range-wide sea star wasting disease (SSWD) outbreak leading to mass mortality across the range of Pisaster ochraceus created a rare opportunity to explore the genetic landscape in which selection acts, and to identify alleles that responded directly … Permission to work at Bodega, Coal Oil Point, Scripps Reef, and all sites on Santa Cruz Island was granted by the UC Natural Reserve System and the Nature Conservancy. Department of Biology, Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington, United States of America, Affiliation Sea star wasting syndrome is a general description of a set of symptoms that are found in sea stars. Over the past several years, apparent increases in the frequency of marine disease outbreaks  have led to repeated calls for a ‘multi-step’ approach to disease ecology (e.g., [2,25–27]). A variety of components factor into population recovery, including recruitment of new individuals, juvenile survivorship to the adult stage, and disease persistence. According to new research, starfish are going through sea star wasting disease (SSWD). A mysterious disease called Sea Star Wasting Disease Syndrome (SSWS) has been causing mass mortality of sea stars along much of the Pacific Coast from Baja California to the Gulf of Alaska. In Oregon, surveys were completed under Oregon DFW permit #’s 18084, 18610, 19306, 20174, and 21411, and access to Fogarty Creek was provided through collaborators at Oregon State University, who have an agreement with the owners. Writing – review & editing, Affiliation P. ochraceus was the first species to be termed a ‘keystone predator’  because of its strong effects on diversity of primary space occupiers in wave-exposed areas [7,19]. Our data from Fogarty Creek, OR (one of the sites sampled by Menge et al. Sea Stars and Biodiversity. For sites that were sampled > 1 time year-1, the mean total number for that year is displayed. Resources, However, our data indicate that the role of temperature in the initiation or intensification of the SSWD outbreak is still unclear. Software, Only stars ≥ 50 mm diameter were recorded in CBS surveys, so they capture adult densities well, but exclude juveniles. (2018) Large-scale impacts of sea star wasting disease (SSWD) on intertidal sea stars and implications for recovery. Furthermore, even relatively well-supported LTEES such as MARINe do not have access to emergency funding to rapidly respond to ecological disasters. In Oregon, SSWD was first documented in April 2014  between brief periods of elevated seawater temperatures in March (just prior to SSWD emergence) and May (prior to our summer survey when symptomatic stars were observed). Therefore, we used temperature data only from periods when loggers were fully submerged and recording seawater temperature. ... but may have exacerbated its impact in the period that followed. Because these data are collected on an annual (or semiannual) basis, they are well-suited for examining long-term trends in sea star abundance and population size structure across a large geographic area. We can calculate all the terms on the left side of Eq 3 (the N terms) for all sites where there were years with recruits in both the pre and post periods, which means we can get estimates of SW and therefore also MW (total number of informative sites = 35). This means that for year = i: For more information about PLOS Subject Areas, click Project administration, Although observers in low-flow subtidal systems have noted piles of disarticulated ossicles (skeletal elements) as indicators of recent SSWD-induced sea star mortality, water motion in the intertidal zone quickly disperses decomposed bodies of diseased asteroids after death. (1).  recommend as the model response to disease outbreaks. We assessed the impacts of sea star wasting disease in the Salish Sea, a Canadian / United States transboundary marine ecosystem, and world-wide hotspot for temperate asteroid species diversity with a high degree of … When a disease outbreak affects a foundation species , ecosystem engineer  or keystone species , 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. Sewell and Watson  followed a distinct pulse of P. ochraceus recruits over a 2 year period, and estimated that individuals approximately 20 mm in radius (est. Methodology, (Photo by Ben Miner) Site access and field support was provided by the University of California Natural Reserve Systems at Bodega, Landels-Hill Big Creek, Kenneth S. Norris Rancho Marino, Coal Oil Point, Scripps, and Santa Cruz Island. Another essential function of LTEES, particularly those occurring at a broad geographic scale such as this sea star monitoring effort, lies in providing the data necessary for predicting population recovery rates after an impact has occurred. Refer to S1A–S1H Fig for more detail. Sea star wasting disease devastated intertidal sea star populations from Mexico to Alaska between 2013-15, but little detail is known about its impacts to subtidal species. Field support was also provided by the Gulf of Farallones, Monterey Bay and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuaries and the research staff at the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. We did not regularly record stars with a radius below 3 mm as these cannot be reliably detected across large search areas with the naked eye. However, temperatures in Oregon were not consistently elevated (relative to long-term means) until late 2014 / early 2015 (Fig 3). Sea stars along the Pacific Coast are not so fortunate, as large amounts of organic matter may be robbing them of an ability to breathe. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0192870.g001. Yes The current epidemic is strikingly different from previous events in both geographic extent and persistence, and has contributed to the growing push for the development of coordinated responses to marine diseases (e.g., [8,25–27]).  documented ‘unprecedented’ numbers of juvenile recruits at seven long-term monitoring sites in 2014–2015. Because these early symptoms are similar to those resulting from other sources of stress in sea stars, such as desiccation or injury from predators (authors’ pers. 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]). Investigation, Investigation, Jaffe N, et al. If there is not enough oxygen surrounding the papulae, the starfish can’t breathe.”. 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). Survey shows impact of sea star wasting disease in Salish Sea. Infected animals develop lesions that eat away tissue, with limbs dropping off as the animals die. During emersion at low tide, the body temperature of a sea star is determined by multiple factors including air temperature, shading, angle of incidence to sun, rock type, humidity, wind speed, body shape, size, and behavior [40–42]. Large-scale impacts of sea star wasting disease (SSWD) on intertidal sea stars and implications for recovery.  recorded cooler than normal mean monthly seawater temperatures in the period preceding their first observations of stars showing signs of SSWD in Oregon. This lack of association between impact and density (and therefore of a potential tool for predicting impact) contrasts with the patterns detected in other well-documented disease events in which the degree of impact was directly correlated with population density [1,4]. 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? 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. Post Point, Fogarty Creek, Enderts, Mill Creek, Fig 4). A virus has been linked to the disease that progresses from white lesions to loss of arms and ultimately death. Though the wasting disease has decimated sea stars populations in many coastal regions, new crops of baby sea stars are starting to appear in certain … 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. Cooler water temperatures can slow progression of the disease, but not prevent mortality [13,20]. 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 . 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