Case studies

Characterization of the transmission patterns of a coral disease

Client: Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Location: Florida Reef Tract

The objective of this project was to simulate the spread of a coral disease (the Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease, SCTLD) through the entire Florida Reef Tract at the scale of individual reefs. There was very little information available on the SCTLD causative agent, and on how that agent moved from reef to reef. The disease agent was likely transported by the currents by we didn’t know whether it stayed near the bottom, near the surface or if it was spread over the entire water column. We therefore considered different modes of transport for the disease agent and, by comparing the modelled spread of the disease with observations, determined what was its most likely mode of transport. We then coupled the hydrodynamic model with an epidemiological model in order to be able to predict the future evolution of the disease and inform reef management.