Abstract: Hybridization is considered an important process in evolutionary biology with the ability to drive adaptation and speciation. Scleractinian corals are one of the animal groups for which realistic appraisals of hybridization occurrence and its role as a source of evolutionary novelty are lacking. My PhD project will employ a large scale, genome-wide sequence dataset of scleractinian coral specimens collected from locations across the Indo-Pacific and analytical methods to identify hybridization in scleractinian gene histories. I aim to distinguish between competing hypotheses and to identify the drivers of diversification specifically for the family Acroporidae of order Scleractinia.
Biography:Hanaka grew up in Japan where she completed her BSc in Biology and Law at International Christian University. After working for a laboratory/medical device manufacturer for several years, she decided to pursue her dream and moved to Australia to complete her MSc in Marine biology and ecology at James Cook University. After working several jobs around JCU, Australian Institute of Marine Science and ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, she is now studying the role of hybridization in the evolutionary history of scleractinian corals. Hanaka is conducting her PhD project under the supervision of Prof Andrew Baird, Prof David Miller, and Dr Pete Cowman.