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Lesion Assessment

Diagnosis of a coral disease is made through a tiered process that is initiated with a field lesion assessment, is enhanced with a description of the morphologic changes in the host associated with the disease and becomes definitive using an evaluation of morphologic changes in the host as the disease progresses (e.g., pathogenesis), determining the cause (e.g., etiology), and physiologic changes in the host as the disease progresses (e.g., pathophysiology).

The field assessment phase of lesion identification is the first step in a Level I diagnosis. Initially, there is a categorization of obvious field signs directly visible to the diver without magnification or sampling. The assessment involves the identification of four easily observed descriptive categories: presence of color change, tissue loss, skeletal damage and/or irregular growth.

The observer also records other gross visible signs such as the location and distribution of the lesion, condition of the affected tissue, and the extent of tissue loss. The Coral Disease Assessment Form provides a useful tool for recording information (about the visible field signs of a coral lesion) that will be used to complete a Field Diagnosis using the Coral Disease Diagnostic Decision Tree and the Coral Disease Identification Keys.