In order to identify coral colonies that have the ability to survive future climate scenarios, Guam EPSCoR must make long-term observations of the physical environments in which these corals grow. To accomplish this, Guam EPSCoR designed an array of oceanographic sensing equipment with the ability to test if environmental parameters exert selection pressure.
The distribution of organisms within the marine ecosystems is extremely patchy in nature, and often clusters into predictable zones. Shallow reef flats are often dominated by macroalgae and seagrasses, whereas reef slopes that buffer waves support accreting organisms such as crustose coralline algae and hard corals. The distribution patterns of corals in these two reef zones are similar, as well.
Guam EPSCoR aims to describe the population genetic structure of coral species and overlay this information with the major environmental parameters that dominate each reef zone (i.e., zones that often experience thermal stress or frequent sedimentation events).