Virginia Institute of Marine Science
The striped bass (Morone saxatilis) is an economically and ecologically important finfish species along the Atlantic seaboard of the United States. Recent stock assessments in Chesapeake Bay (USA) indicate that non-fishing mortality in striped bass has increased since 1999, concomitant with very high (>50%) prevalence of visceral and dermal disease caused by Mycobacterium spp. Current fishery assessment models do not differentiate between disease and other components of non-fishing mortality (e. g., senescence, predation); therefore, disease impact on the striped bass population has not been established. Specific measurement of mortality associated with mycobacteriosis in wild striped bass is complicated because the disease is chronic and mortality is cryptic. Epidemiological models have been developed to estimate disease-associated mortality from cross-sectional prevalence data and have recently been generalized to represent disease processes more realistically. Here, we used this generalized approach to demonstrate disease-associated mortality in striped bass from Chesapeake Bay. To our knowledge this is the first demonstration of cryptic mortality associated with a chronic infectious disease in a wild finfish. This finding has direct implications for management and stock assessment of striped bass, as it demonstrates population-level negative impacts of a chronic disease. Additionally, this research provides a framework by which disease-associated mortality may be specifically addressed within fisheries models for resource management.
disease-associated mortality; force-of-infection; Morone saxatilis; mycobacteriosis; striped bass
Copyright by the Ecological Society of America
Gauthier, DT; Latour, RJ; Helsey, DM; Bonzek, CF; Gartland, J; Burge, EJ; and Vogelbein, WK, Mycobacteriosis-associated mortality in wild striped bass (Morone saxatilis) from Chesapeake Bay, USA (2008). Ecological Applications, 18(7), 1718-1727.