Assisted evolution via selective breeding
For selective breeding to be successful, adaptive traits need to be heritable (i.e., passed on to offspring by their parents). To test the degree of heritability of heat tolerance, adult colonies are selectively bred to produce first (F1) and second (F2) generation corals.
Testing for heat tolerance
Parental colonies are tested for heat tolerant phenotypes through temperature stress experiments so that offspring phenotypic lineage is known. Offspring are tested for their heat tolerance at different life stages (larvae, spat, juveniles and adults). By testing heat tolerances of corals with known phenotypic lineages, we can establish how heritable this trait is and use this information to model assisted evolution interventions.
Offspring are kept in a common in situ nursery to reduce differential acclimatisation to environmental conditions.