Strategies for managing marine disease

The incidence of emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) has increased in wildlife populations in recent years and is expected to continue to increase with global environmental change. Marine diseases are relatively understudied compared with terrestrial diseases but warrant parallel attention as they can disrupt ecosystems, cause economic loss, and threaten human livelihoods. Although there are many existing tools to combat the direct and indirect consequences of EIDs, these management strategies are often insufficient or ineffective in marine habitats compared with their terrestrial counterparts, often due to fundamental differences between marine and terrestrial systems. Here, we first illustrate how the marine environment and marine organism life histories present challenges and opportunities for wildlife disease management. We then assess the application of common disease management strategies to marine versus terrestrial systems to identify those that may be most effective for marine disease outbreak prevention, response, and recovery. Finally, we recommend multiple actions that will enable more successful management of marine wildlife disease emergencies in the future. These include prioritizing marine disease research and understanding its links to climate change, improving marine ecosystem health, forming better monitoring and response networks, developing marine veterinary medicine programs, and enacting policy that addresses marine and other wildlife diseases. Overall, we encourage a more proactive rather than reactive approach to marine wildlife disease management and emphasize that multidisciplinary collaborations are crucial to managing marine wildlife health.

Authors: Glidden, Caroline K., Field, Laurel C., Bachhuber, Silke, Hennessey, Shannon M., Cates, Robyn, Cohen, Lesley, Crockett, Elin, Degnin, Michelle, Feezell, Maya K., Fulton-Bennett, Heather K., Pires, Devyn, N. Poirson, Brittany N., Randell, Zachary H., White, Erick, Gravem, Sarah A.

Caroline K. Glidden, et al
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Ecological Applications e2643
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