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AIMS scientists are using population genetic methods to identify potential coral larvae migrants that have settled on a reef over the past few generations.

Coral reef resilience depends on the connectivity between and within coral reefs. ‘Source’ reefs with diverse populations of healthy adult corals that export larvae to other reefs are essential for maintaining the genetic diversity and resilience of ‘sink’ reefs, which import larvae.

Therefore, assessing the extent to which reefs are self-seeding versus accumulating recruits from surrounding areas, and discovering the direction of larval dispersal, will improve our ability to forecast how reef corals are likely to respond to environmental change.

Successful migrants leave a genetic signature of their movements and allow inference of connectivity with the use of population genetic methods.