Biodiversity, phenotypic plasticity and speciation in gorgonian corals

There is no consensus regarding the processes generating the high tropical reef diversity. We aim to examine how local adaptation and ecological speciation operate to generate habitat related diversification s. The Caribbean and the Eastern Pacific have endemic octocoral faunas, which diversification definitely accelerated after the closure of the Isthmus of Panama. With a few seemingly allopatric-generated species, numerous closely related species of Eunicea, Pseudopterogorgia, Pterogorgia, Plexaura-Pseudoplexaura, Muricea, and Pacifigorgia exhibit signatures of recent radiations. The different ecological settings at both oceans also point out the possibility of these groups undergoing separate adaptive radiations. This story developed from the same gorgonian corals property, phenotypic plasticity, but unraveled differently at both sides of the isthmus in response to the reigning ecological conditions. Our research group works on the population genomics and molecular ecology of several species to tackle this question from many angles.

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