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DNA May Aid in Coral Reef Protection

NOAA's National Ocean Service / Flickr
NOAA's National Ocean Service / Flickr

Understanding the DNA of life in Hawai‘i’s coral reefs may hold the key to protecting diversity through changing conditions.

Researchers with the University of Hawai‘i’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology have compiled a large DNA data base of the state’s marine life.  The team assessed more than 17,000 DNA samples taken from 47 common reef-associated species across the Hawaiian Islands.  Researchers hope to use this data to understand how genetic diversity can be used to understand the long term resilience of coral reefs.

With that information—scientist can better direct conservation efforts as well as predict the rate of change over a reef.  Kim Selkoe is a Marine Biologist with the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology. 

 Selko says the next step is to begin filling in unknown questions on the impact of human stresses like fishing and climate change.

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