Navigation Links
AMNH scientists grace Science & Nature covers
Date:4/10/2008

In an unusual confluence of events, two comprehensive, collaborative projects that include the work of two different curators from the American Museum of Natural History will grace the covers of the journals Science and Nature this week. For the paper in Science, herpetologist and Associate Dean of Science Christopher Raxworthy and colleagues analyzed thousands of species, rather than the more typical few keystone species, to determine a conservation plan for a tropical hotspot, a biologically rich but threatened region. The research by Ward Wheeler, Curator in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology, also drew from analysis of many taxa: by comparing at the genetic level 77 animals from 21 different phyla, he and his colleagues have redrawn the phylogenetic tree of multicellular animals.

A new way to conserve the diverse and unique animals and plants in Madagascar was the goal of Raxworthys contribution to Science. Madagascar is a global hotspot, with many unique species, and this tropical nationan island the size of Californiahas committed to expanding its protected areas to cover 10 percent of the land. The study looked at over 2,300 species and, after finding little correlation between the distribution of ants, frogs, geckos, butterflies, plants, and other groups, used new computer methods to map the regions of the country that could efficiently harbor healthy populations of all species. A bonus was that the new multispecies approach identified regions that have been ignored to date, such as the less glamorous shoreline forests and some neglected mountains. By analyzing multiple species, we came up with conservation recommendations that are more robust for biodiversity as a whole, and expect that by tweaking and expanding the existing reserve network, we will have a much more efficient system, explains Raxworthy. Hopefully this study will encourage other tropical countries to try similar approaches that pool data to develop more effective conservation solutions.

Wheeler and colleagues pooled data of a different sortsamples from a diverse array of animalsto look at evolutionary relationships from sponges to humans. Genetic sampling allows researchers to see relationships among species that could be hidden from view if not reflected in morphology, or the physical characteristics that are traditionally used to determine phylogeny. This study, as reported in Nature, analyzed some 40 million base pairs of RNA from diverse phyla and used the overlap to reconstruct the family tree. But what Wheeler and colleagues found uprooted parts of the tree of life: sponges, once thought to be basal (diverging earliest from all others in the group) among animals because of their simple organization and lack of a nervous system, were found in this study to be more derived. Comb jellies, a group which includes stingless sea gooseberries, seem to have primitive shared characteristics. These results point us in a direction for further research, explains Wheeler. These represent animal phyla, and although their morphologies are well-characterized anatomically, they are very disparate and hard to compare. To deal with this problem, we used genetic data. Other findings that warrant further research: tardigrades (tiny, segmented water bears with claws that can suspend life for years in lichen and moss), initially thought to be like insects now seem to be closer to nematodes (annelids, or worms); and true, segmented worms, formerly thought to be related to arthropods may share closer ancestry with mollusks.

The analysis of plant and animal distribution in Madagascar that Raxworthy participated in was conducted by researchers from the Department of Environmental Sciences, Policy, and Management at the University of California, Berkeley, with input from the 20 additional authors, , who provided biodiversity information, analytical expertise, and technical assistance. The project was facilitated by Systme dAires Protges de Madagascar and funded by the MacArthur Foundation. The phylogenomic sampling by Wheeler and colleagues was primarily funded by the National Science Foundation (the Protostome Assembling the Tree of Life Project). The affiliations of other authors include the University of Hawaii, Yale University, Brown University, and Harvard University, among others.


'/>"/>

Contact: Kristin Phillips
kphilips@amnh.oeg
212-496-3419
American Museum of Natural History
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Scientists uncover the potential to control adult stem cells
2. Scientists ask whether microscaffolding can help stem cells rebuild brain after stroke damage
3. Scientists find a fingerprint of evolution across the human genome
4. Death protein research secures funding for UCF scientists
5. Yale scientists visualize the machinery of mRNA splicing
6. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory scientists devise potential approach to treat spinal muscular atrophy
7. Scientists discover 356 animal inclusions trapped in 100 million years old opaque amber
8. Great Ape Trust to gather internationally recognized scientists for Decade of the Mind III
9. CSHL scientists part of team that discovers role of rare gene mutations in schizophrenia
10. CSHL scientists identify a mechanism that helps fruit flies lock-in memories
11. Scientists find that squid beak is both hard and soft, a material that engineers want to copy
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/23/2017)... ARMONK, N.Y. and ITHACA, N.Y. ... IBM ) and Cornell University, a leader in dairy ... combined with bioinformatics designed to help reduce the chances ... breaches. With the onset of this dairy project, Cornell ... the Consortium for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain, a ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... 2017   Bridge Patient Portal , an ... MD EMR Systems , an electronic medical record ... have established a partnership to build an interface ... GE Centricity™ products, including Centricity Practice Solution (CPS), ... These new integrations will allow healthcare delivery networks ...
(Date:4/18/2017)... 2017  Socionext Inc., a global expert in SoC-based imaging and ... the M820, which features the company,s hybrid codec technology. A demonstration ... Probe, Inc., will be showcased during the upcoming Medtec Japan at ... the Las Vegas Convention Center April 24-27. ... Click here for an ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:9/14/2017)... ... September 14, 2017 , ... AIM Global, the worldwide standards ... Inc. has won the 2017 Case Study Competition for AIDC. The award is ... that decrease risk” and push the adoption of automated data collection systems further. ...
(Date:9/12/2017)... ... September 12, 2017 , ... ... scalable cloud-based platform for ambulatory patient monitoring and clinical trial support, earned DPharm ... Trials conference in Boston. , Launched in 2005, PhysIQ leverages artificial intelligence ...
(Date:9/12/2017)... ... September 12, 2017 , ... Soybean researchers ... to submit a "pre-proposal” by October 15, prior to completing a full grant ... are aligned with our priorities, and to encourage researchers to further develop ones ...
(Date:9/12/2017)... & Cambridge (PRWEB) , ... September 11, 2017 ... ... with US offices in Cambridge, MA, announce today that Holotype HLA and other ... at the annual meeting of the American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics ...
Breaking Biology Technology: