Send to

Choose Destination
Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2016 Mar 5;371(1689). pii: 20150212. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2015.0212.

Ochre star mortality during the 2014 wasting disease epizootic: role of population size structure and temperature.

Author information

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA
Department of Health Management, University of Prince Edward Island, Atlantic Veterinary College, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada C1A 4P3.
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA.
Department of Biology, University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA 98416, USA.
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA Laboratoire d'Excellence «CORAIL» USR 3278 CNRS-EPHE, CRIOBE, Papetoai, Moorea, Polynésie Française.
Lake Crescent Laboratory, Olympic National Park, Port Angeles, WA 98362, USA.
Marine Science Center, Northeastern University, Nahant, MA 01908, USA.
Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, NOAA, 4301 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33149, USA Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33149, USA.


Over 20 species of asteroids were devastated by a sea star wasting disease (SSWD) epizootic, linked to a densovirus, from Mexico to Alaska in 2013 and 2014. For Pisaster ochraceus from the San Juan Islands, South Puget Sound and Washington outer coast, time-series monitoring showed rapid disease spread, high mortality rates in 2014, and continuing levels of wasting in the survivors in 2015. Peak prevalence of disease at 16 sites ranged to 100%, with an overall mean of 61%. Analysis of longitudinal data showed disease risk was correlated with both size and temperature and resulted in shifts in population size structure; adult populations fell to one quarter of pre-outbreak abundances. In laboratory experiments, time between development of disease signs and death was influenced by temperature in adults but not juveniles and adult mortality was 18% higher in the 19 °C treatment compared to the lower temperature treatments. While larger ochre stars developed disease signs sooner than juveniles, diseased juveniles died more quickly than diseased adults. Unusual 2-3 °C warm temperature anomalies were coincident with the summer 2014 mortalities. We suggest these warm waters could have increased the disease progression and mortality rates of SSWD in Washington State.


Pisaster ochraceus; climate change; epizootic; host demography; mass mortality; sea star wasting disease

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center