Location: Simons IMAX Theatre

Epizootic shell disease in the American lobster

Jeffrey Shields, Professor of Marine Science, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, The College of William & Mary

Populations of the lobster, Homarus americanus, off southern New England are threatened by epizootic shell disease (ESD). The disease causes a rapid necrosis of the shell making infected lobsters unmarketable. The disease has negatively affected the fishery, but it has been difficult to quantify its impact on lobster populations. ESD is caused by a shift in the bacterial community (dysbiosis) that occurs in relation to changes in environmental and anthropogenic stressors. Temperature is a key variable in ESD but its effect has not been well characterized.

Join Jeff Shields as he discusses environmental diseases in lobsters and what can be done about them. He will present an overview of the disease and give new findings on his recent studies. He will also address aspects of the dysbiosis, the effect of temperature on individuals and projected effects on populations, as well as new insights into the epidemiology of the disease. Understanding the complex interplay among temperature, disease dynamics and lobsters is critical for assessing the risk of expansion of the disease into the Gulf of Maine.