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Coastal pollution reduces genetic diversity of corals, reef resilience

A new study by researchers at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) found that human-induced environmental stressors have a large effect on the genetic composition of coral reef populations in Hawaii. They confirmed that there is an ongoing loss of sensitive genotypes in nearshore coral populations due to stressors resulting from poor land-use practices and coastal pollution. This reduced genetic diversity compromises reef resilience.  The study identified closer genetic relationships between nearshore corals in Maunalua Bay, Oahu and those from sites on West Maui, than to corals from the same islands, but further offshore. This pattern can be described as isolation by environment in contrast to isolation by distance. This is an adaptive response by the corals to watershed discharges that contain sediment and pollutants from land.  Read more....

 

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