5th UF Water Institute Symposium Abstract

Submitter's Name Jan Landsberg
Session Name Emerging Diseases and Contaminants in Florida Waters - 1
Author(s) Jan Landsberg,  Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (Presenting Author)
  A Brief Overview of Factors Affecting the Health of Florida‚Äôs Aquatic Organisms
  Florida has a high diversity of habitats with hundreds of miles of natural and developed coastline, open water, and freshwater systems that are particularly at risk from natural and anthropogenic stressors. Poor water quality; land-based nutrient or contaminant inputs; eutrophic systems; pathogen introductions; and water management activities have significant effects on the health of aquatic animals. Antibiotic resistance and introduced pathogens are two potential consequences of sewage spills and microbial inputs. Synergistic or compounding environmental factors can exacerbate disease outbreaks. Harmful algae blooms (HABs) cause acute and chronic effects with lethal to sublethal consequences. Anthropogenic and natural contaminants are diverse and have been partially managed or mitigated, but there are new and emerging issues from a range of human-derived products entering aquatic systems. In the last two decades, epizootics have emerged in foundation communities such as coral reefs and seagrass beds, with widespread disease incidences in keystone, economic, or endangered species. Multiple, wide-scale mass mortality events have affected hundreds of thousands of animals along with benthic community die-offs and local extirpations. Die-offs of amphibians have been attributed to co-occurring pathogens, some reported for the first time in Florida. Rapid salinity shifts through water management or adverse weather can stress animals and cause health issues. For example, ulcerative mycosis is partly attributable to rapid water inputs and associated salinity decreases, stressing estuarine fish and increasing their susceptibility to infection by the oomycete, Aphanomyces invadans. In the Indian River Lagoon, a range of tumors have been documented in different animal species (e.g. gonadal neoplasia in hard clams, Mercenaria; fibropapillomas in sea turtles; and lymphosarcoma in red fin needlefish), but common etiological cofactors, if any, have not been identified. The increasing incidence of diverse disease outbreaks and emerging pathogens demonstrates the continued need for water quality improvements and other adaptive management strategies.