Population Genomics of Range Expansion


As the climate warms, many organisms have been shifting their habitat range to more favorable environmental conditions. In particular, equatorial ocean warming has led some tropical corals to expand or shift their geographical range away from the equator as new areas now provide the corals’ preferred temperatures. In Japan, coral species have been seen growing in areas where they had not previously lived and the overall pattern shows a northern migration along the coast. In collaboration with scientists from Japan, we are using genomic techniques and a series of physiological experiments to characterize the populations on the moving edges of the range for both coral hosts and their algal symbionts. Studying how corals on the range front are different from those of the natal population can inform our understanding of how corals push their physiological limits and adapt to changing conditions.