The active spread of adaptive variation for reef resilience

Quigley, Kate M., Bay, Line K., and van Oppen, Madeleine J. H. (2019) The active spread of adaptive variation for reef resilience. Ecology and Evolution, 9 (19). pp. 11122-11135.

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© 2019 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. The speed at which species adapt depends partly on the rates of beneficial adaptation generation and how quickly they spread within and among populations. Natural rates of adaptation of corals may not be able to keep pace with climate warming. Several interventions have been proposed to fast-track thermal adaptation, including the intentional translocation of warm-adapted adults or their offspring (assisted gene flow, AGF) and the ex situ crossing of warm-adapted corals with conspecifics from cooler reefs (hybridization or selective breeding) and field deployment of those offspring. The introgression of temperature tolerance loci into the genomic background of cooler-environment corals aims to facilitate adaptation to warming while maintaining fitness under local conditions. Here we use research on selective sweeps and connectivity to understand the spread of adaptive variants as it applies to AGF on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), focusing on the genus Acropora. Using larval biophysical dispersal modeling, we estimate levels of natural connectivity in warm-adapted northern corals. We then model the spread of adaptive variants from single and multiple reefs and assess if the natural and assisted spread of adaptive variants will occur fast enough to prepare receiving central and southern populations given current rates of warming. We also estimate fixation rates and spatial extent of fixation under multiple release scenarios to inform intervention design. Our results suggest that thermal tolerance is unlikely to spread beyond northern reefs to the central and southern GBR without intervention, and if it does, 30+ generations are needed for adaptive gene variants to reach fixation even under multiple release scenarios. We argue that if translocation, breeding, and reseeding risks are managed, AGF using multiple release reefs can be beneficial for the restoration of coral populations. These interventions should be considered in addition to conventional management and accompanied by strong mitigation of CO2 emissions.

Item ID: 67443
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2045-7758
Keywords: adaptation, assisted gene flow, climate change, coral reefs, restoration, thermal tolerance
Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2021 01:12
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3102 Bioinformatics and computational biology > 310204 Genomics and transcriptomics @ 50%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3104 Evolutionary biology > 310405 Evolutionary ecology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180501 Assessment and management of benthic marine ecosystems @ 50%
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180504 Marine biodiversity @ 50%
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