Discipline: Ecology Environmental and Earth Sciences
Elangeni Yabba - University of the Virgin Islands
Co-Author(s): Marilyn Brandt, University of the Virgin Islands, St. Thomas, VI
Coral reefs are in global decline and deteriorating at alarming rates, with coral diseases increasing both in prevalence and in space. Many studies have been done regarding how diseases spread between coral. The question that we are trying to answer is how coral disease dispersion is affected by currents, salinity, and temperature. We hypothesize that, not only is dispersion controlled by the currents, salinity, and the temperature, but it is controlled through a direct relationship between the diffusion/mortality constant (the rate at which the disease spreads) and the temperature and salinity of the water. In order to do this, we are utilizing data from NOAA and the University of the Virgin Islands Center for Marine and Environmental Studies that includes information on salinity, currents, temperature, latitude, and longitude. Our approach captures the dynamics of coral disease both in space and time, and accounts for the highly seasonal nature of the annual outbreaks. We applied a combination of spatiotemporal statistics to study the disease progression by creating a connectivity graph between the various coral sites. The results have implications for designing management policies appropriate for coral reef conservation. Future work of this study consists of assessing the stability of the different numerical methods and strengthening our model.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): This research was funded by the University of the Virgin Islands HBCU-UP and MARC Programs.
Faculty Advisor: Robert Stolz, firstname.lastname@example.org
Role: First, through various numerical methods, I found the diffusion/mortality constant. I then used that constant to test and evaluate my hypothesis. After obtaining my data, I proceeded to construct a connectivity graph to display the affect of currents, temperature, salinity, and season on the spread of coral disease.