Macroecological relationships between coral species’ traits and disease potential
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- Díaz, M. & Madin, J. Coral Reefs (2011) 30: 73. doi:10.1007/s00338-010-0668-4
Coral disease is a growing problem for reef corals and a primary driver of reef degradation. Incidences of coral disease on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) are increasing; however, our understanding of differences among species in their potential for contracting disease is poor. In this study, we integrate observations of coral disease on the GBR from the primary literature as well as morphological, ecological and biogeographical traits of coral species that have been hypothesised to influence “disease potential.” Most of the examined traits influence species’ disease potential when considered alone. However, when all traits are analysed together, diversity of predators, geographical range size and characteristic local abundance are the primary predictors of disease potential. Biases associated with species’ local abundance and phylogeny are tested but do not overpower relationships. This large-scale macroecological evaluation of coral disease provides insights into species-level traits that drive disease susceptibility.