High genetic diversity and limited genetic connectivity in 2 populations of an endemic and endangered coral species: Porites sverdrupi

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Violeta Martínez-Castillo
Héctor Reyes-Bonilla
Axayácatl Rocha-Olivares

Abstract

The coral Porites sverdrupi is the only scleractinian endemic to the Gulf of California. Over the last 2 decades its populations have been restricted to 3 areas, La Paz Bay, Loreto Bay, and Concepción Bay. As this species faces a high risk of extinction, there is an urgent need for biological, ecological, and genetic information for the guidance of conservation efforts. This is the first study on genetic diversity and connectivity in the species. For this, we analyzed coral colonies from Loreto Bay and Concepción Bay. Our results show that there is high genetic diversity in P. sverdrupi at both sites, with significant genetic structure between them. This condition is caused by a combination of short pelagic larval duration, low dispersal potential between the populations, and local adaptation. Our results emphasize the need for more research in order to establish adequate conservation strategies. 

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