Both the number of coral diseases and the intensity of their outbreaks have increased in recent years. Little is known however why certain species are more susceptible to disease. This study examines coral disease prevalence and species susceptibility to disease using data collected over a four year period at 25 sites in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Twelve species of scleractinian coral were found to be affected by disease. Yellow band disease (YBD) and dark spots disease (DSD) were the most common diseases found on USVI reefs. Four dis- eases, YBD, DSD, white syndrome, and black band disease (BBD) were observed in three species; Montastraea annularis, Montastraea franksi and Siderestrea siderea. Siderestrea siderea was most frequently affected by disease with a total prevalence of 23%, largely due to the high number of incidences of DSD. YBD was the second most common disease and had the highest prevalence in Montastraea annularis (5.1%). BBD was most common in Colpophyllia natans (1.2%) while white syndrome was most often seen in the Montastraea annu- laris complex (2.9%). Four of the 12 species affected by disease had above average susceptibility to disease, and included species in the Montastraea genus as well as Siderastrea siderea. Of the 12 species with signs of disease, Diploria strigosa was afflicted least, showing only slight susceptibility to YBD. Two species of scler- actinian coral, Porites porites and Diploria labrynthiformis, and two species of hydrocoral, Millepora alcicornis and M. complanata, were healthy, suggesting low disease susceptibility.
Scleractinia (Hard Corals)
US Virgin Islands
SCUBA (open-circuit or unspecified)