IRCP
Pacific Coral Reef Institute
EPHE

Grants IRCP 2013 – Sarah W. Davies (Texas): Host-Symbiont Genetic Structure in Corals

Sarah W. Davies (Texas) – Grants IRCP 2013

Title of the Project : Investigating Host-Symbiont Genetic Structure in Moorean Corals.

Abstract : Coral reefs on and surrounding Moorea are interesting for studying population connectivity because, since the 1980’s, these reefs have experienced several major perturbations. These events include outbreaks of corallivorous crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci), multiple cyclones (i.e. Cyclone Oli), and a number of intense bleaching events (Adjeroud et al. 2009; Trapon et al. 2011; Pratchett et al. 2011). However, even though reef cover during these events has been highly reduced, especially on the forereef, juvenile coral recruitment has been remarkably high (Adam et al. 2011), indicating some level of connectivity between neighboring reefs. Moorea also has a unique long term monitoring project that has set up six sites around Moorea in three different habitats since 2005 so adding a genetic component to this monitoring project will greatly ameliorate our biological understanding as well as management.

Overarching Hypothesis: Due to their relatively long pelagic larval durations I hypothesize that Moorean acroporid corals will exhibit large dispersal ranges, while their symbionts will be highly differentiated in comparison to the host.

Main results and perspective : Aim 1. Determine the connectivity patterns and distribution of genetic diversity in two species of acroporid corals (Acropora hyacinthus & Acropora digitifera) on Moorean reefs. Aim 2. Determine the connectivity patterns and distribution of genetic diversity in symbionts of two coral hosts (Acropora hyacinthus & Acropora digitifera) on Moorean reefs. These aims represent complementary approaches to better understand reef connectivity, and will test the theory of local adaptation in the symbionts of broadcast spawning corals.

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