At the Center of Research
in the Western Pacific

Coral Genetics, Population Structure, Genomics, and Diversity

Research Overview:
In 2013, Guam experienced the largest bleaching event in its recorded history. The University of Guam, local, federal, other non-governmental organization and resource managers set up a monitoring system to document this event. The initial results suggested bleaching susceptibility varied among species, populations and individuals within populations. This indicates the presences of a genetically mediated bleaching resilience, which might be identifiable using a combination of population genetic fieldwork and experimental asssays.

Guam EPSCoR is using a combination of phylogenetic and population genetic methods to characterize the genetic diversity of corals in Guam. Species boundaries in corals inferred from genetic data are often in conflict with traditional morphological species definitions. Using next-generation sequencing technologies, Guam EPSCoR aims to reconcile these conflicting hypotheses, establish a more accurate baseline for the coral diversity of Guam and provide important biodiversity information for future reef management efforts. 


Image of Guam EPSCoR Researchers collect coral tissue samples along an underwater transect.

Goal: Understand the relative contribution of environmental stressors on corals and provide managers and community stakeholders with the means to make informed decisions about reef management. 

Core Objectives:
  • Characterize coral colonies and populations that survive coral bleaching
  • Describe and improve understanding of the coral diversity found on Guam’s reefs
  • Understand differences in susceptibility of corals to bleaching and other stressors at the levels of populations and individuals
For more information, contact Dr. Bastian Bentlage at

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number OIA-1457769.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.