Hawaiian corals caught in the act of adaptation

  • A) Yellow and blue-grey Porites side by side; B) variation in bleaching. (Forsman et al. 2020/Special to West Hawaii Today)

Coral reefs are among the most highly biodiverse ecosystems on Earth, yet it is not clear what drives speciation and diversification in the ocean, where there are few physical barriers that could separate populations. Diversity in Hawaiian corals is likely driven by coevolution between the coral host, the algal symbiont (algae living in close and prolonged interaction) and the microbial community. That’s according to a study led by the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB).