Some rare Indo-Pacific coral species are probable hybrids

Richards, Zoe T., van Oppen, Madeleine J.H., Wallace, Carden C., Willis, Bette L., and Miller, David J. (2008) Some rare Indo-Pacific coral species are probable hybrids. Public Library of Science ONE , 3 (9). pp. 1-8.

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Background: coral reefs worldwide face a variety of threats and many coral species are increasingly endangered. It is often assumed that rare coral species face higher risks of extinction because they have very small effective population sizes, a predicted consequence of which is decreased genetic diversity and adaptive potential.

Methodology/Principal Findings: here we show that some Indo-Pacific members of the coral genus Acropora have very small global population sizes and are likely to be unidirectional hybrids. Whether this reflects hybrid origins or secondary hybridization following speciation is unclear.

Conclusions/Significance: the interspecific gene flow demonstrated here implies increased genetic diversity and adaptive potential in these coral species. Rare Acropora species may therefore be less vulnerable to extinction than has often been assumed because of their propensity for hybridization and introgression, which may increase their adaptive potential.

Item ID: 7079
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
Keywords: marine sciences; Scleractinian corals; hybridisation; rarity; coral reefs; coral evolution
Additional Information:

© 2008 Richards et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2010 03:00
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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