1210 13 MARCH 2015 • VOL 347 ISSUE 6227 sciencemag.org SCIENCE
for marine diseases
MARINE DISEASES CAN decimate populations and can have substantial ecological,
economic, and social impacts. Recent
disease outbreaks in marine mammals,
shellfish, sponges, seagrasses, crustaceans,
corals, and fishes demonstrate the potential for catastrophic effects, including
reduced biodiversity, community shifts,
local extirpation of species, disruption of
ecosystem services, and loss of fisheries (1,
2). Currently, seastar wasting syndrome
threatens marine populations by impairing
ecological integrity through shifts in populations of foundation species and declines in
ecosystem services. In the past year, over 20
seastar species on both coasts of the United
States have declined to the point of local
At this point, very limited funding is
available to identify, monitor, forecast,
and mitigate marine diseases. The Marine
Disease Emergency Act (H.R. 5546), reintroduced by Rep. Dennis Heck (D-Wash.) to
the House of Representatives in February
2015, would provide immediate resources
to mount a rapid response when marine
infectious diseases are first detected. If the
legislation passes, the funding would enable
(i) a basic research program to increase
diagnostic tools, understand pathogenesis,
and quantify epidemiological processes; (ii)
a surveillance program to identify marine
disease outbreaks; (iii) a marine disease
forecasting program; and (iv) directed
mitigation programs to reduce the intensity
of disease outbreaks and their downstream
impacts [e.g., (4)]. These activities were only
possible to a very limited extent during the
recent seastar wasting syndrome outbreaks.
As our global reliance on oceans for
food, ecosystem services, and cultural
activities rises, anthropogenic stresses to
the oceans are increasing, creating new
opportunities for disease. This past year
(2014) was also the warmest on record,
and continually rising temperatures under
climate change are predicted to increase
seagrass wasting disease, seastar wasting,
abalone withering syndrome, coral bleach-
ing, infectious coral diseases, and risk for
human infection by zoonotic vibrio spe-
cies (5–8). If passed, the Marine Disease
Emergency Act will greatly enhance
capacity for rapid responses to marine
disease outbreaks, maximizing opportuni-
ties for research and management of these
diseases and their downstream impacts.
Maya Groner,1 Rachel Breyta,2 Andy
Dobson,3 Carolyn S. Friedman,2 Brett
Froelich,4 Melissa Garren,5 Frances
Gulland,6 Jeffrey Maynard,7
Ernesto Weil,8 Sandy
1Centre for Veterinary
PE, C1A 4P3,
Canada. 2School of
Aquatic and Fishery
Sciences, University of
Washington, Seattle, WA
98195, USA. 3Department
of Ecology and Evolutionary
Biology, Princeton, NJ 08544,
USA. 4Department of Marine
Science, University of North Carolina,
Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA. 5Department of
Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.
6The Marine Mammal Center, Sausalito, CA 94965,
USA. 7Department of Ecology and Evolutionary
Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.
8Department of Marine Sciences, University of Puerto
Rico, Mayaguez, Mayaguez, PR 00680, USA. 9Friday
Harbor Laboratories, University of Washington, Friday
Harbor, WA 98250, USA.
*Corresponding author. E-mail: email@example.com
1. C. A. Burgeetal., Annu.Rev.Mar.Sci. 6, 249 (2014).
2. K.D.Lafferty etal., Annu.Rev.Mar.Sci. 7,471(2015).
3. I. Hewson et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S. A.111, 17278 (2014).
4. J. A. Maynard et al ., Coral Reefs 30, 485 (2011).
5. L. M. Crosson etal., Dis.Aquat.Org. 108, 261 (2014).
6. J. W. Turner etal.,Environ.Microbiol. 16, 1019 (2014).
7. J. C. Bull, E. J. Kenyon, K. J. Cook, Oecologia 169, 135 (2012).
8. D.Ruiz-Morenol et al., Dis. Aquat. Org. 100,249 (2012).
J. W. VELDMAN et al. argue that the world’s
ancient (old-growth) grasslands should
be spared from restoration-motivated
tree planting (“Tyranny of trees in grassy
biomes,” Letters, 30 January, p. 484). We
strongly agree. However, they also claim
that the global Atlas of Forest Landscape
Restoration Opportunities (1–3)—created by
the World Resources Institute, International
Union for Conservation of Nature, and
University of Maryland—calls for such afforestation. It does not.
Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) is a
process to regain ecological integrity and
enhance human well-being in deforested or
degraded forest landscapes (4). Its goal is to
enhance native ecosystem functions and bio-
diversity, not to increase forest cover per se.
FLR does not call for increasing tree cover
beyond what would be ecologically appro-
priate for a particular location, and should
not cause any loss or conversion
of natural forests, grasslands,
or other ecosystems.
We created the
Atlas to estimate the
for FLR, thereby
tion of the Bonn
restore 150 mil-
lion hectares of
lands by 2020”) (5),
and to identify areas
where a more refined
analysis is warranted.
It is important to note that
the map is coarse. We used only globally
consistent geospatial data sets at a 1-km
resolution. We defined forest landscapes
broadly, considering climate, soils, and
ecoregions. All lands biophysically capable
of supporting a tree canopy cover of at least
10% were included.
Given its coarseness, the Atlas was not
intended or designed as a tool to guide
precisely where restoration should occur,
or to decide what interventions may be
suitable for a particular location. Rather,
national and subnational assessments are
needed to determine what is ecologically,
socially, and economically appropriate in
a particular context. These assessments
should consider local ecological conditions,
engage local experts and stakeholders, use
local definitions, and incorporate richer,
higher-resolution data. To help with this,
we developed a Restoration Opportunities
Assessment Methodology (6).
To our knowledge, no global map of old-
growth grasslands has yet been published.
Mapping these areas is difficult, as they
form gradients in the landscape, have
shifted over time, and depend heavily on the
periodicity of fires (7), which may or may
not have been subject to human influence.
We invite researchers, including Veldman et
al., to collaborate on a more in-depth map-
ping of ecosystem restoration opportunities,
which can incorporate new information on
the world’s old-growth grasslands and other
important biomes as it becomes available.
Lars Laestadius,1 Stewart Maginnis,2
Susan Minnemeyer,1 Peter V. Potapov,3
Katie Reytar,1 Carole Saint-Laurent2
Edited by Jennifer Sills
Ochre star losing its second arm
to wasting disease.