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Abstract

Selective breeding of resilient organisms is an emerging topic in marine conservation. It can help us predict how species will adapt in the future and how we can help restore struggling populations effectively in the present. Scleractinian corals represent a potential tractable model system given their widescale phenotypic plasticity across fitness-related traits and a reproductive life history based on mass synchronized spawning. Here, I explore the justification for breeding in corals, identify underutilized pathways of acclimation, and highlight avenues for quantitative targeted breeding from the coral host and symbiont perspective. Specifically, the facilitation of enhanced heat tolerance by targeted breeding of plasticity mechanisms is underutilized. Evidence from theoretical genetics identifies potential pitfalls, including inattention to physical and genetic characteristics of the receiving environment. Three criteria for breeding emerge from this synthesis: selection from warm, variable reefs that have survived disturbance. This information will be essential to protect what we have and restore what we can.

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2024-02-15
2024-04-17
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