Navigation Links
Glaciations may have larger influence on biodiversity than current climate

An investigation by the Spanish Scientifc Council (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientficas, CSIC) reveals that the large impacts occurred during the last ice age maintain their effects on the current distribution of dung beetles of the scarab family (Scarabaeidae). The presence of these beetles in Europe seems to be more influenced by the climate of that glaciation than by the present one.

The study, published yesterday in the journal Ecology Letters, analyzed the species richness and the structure of their communities throughout the different regions of the European territory from the Ural Mountains to the Iberian Peninsula. The selection of this family of insects was motivated by their high dispersal ability and because their food sources (mainly cattle and sheep dung) are present throughout the continent.

Scarabs are insects of tropical origin that cannot survive below 0 C mean annual temperature, "so it could be expected that their presence gradually decreases as temperatures drop down northwards " says the researcher from the National Museum of Natural Sciences, CSIC, Joaqun Hortal. However, the analysis of the relationship between the magnitude of climate change since the last glaciation and the distribution of scarabs evidences that these insects are not evenly distributed according to this gradient, but rather show two different patterns, one in the north and one in the south. Horton said: "The border defining the two areas is almost similar to the limit of 0 C of mean annual temperature at the time of the last ice age."

Although scarab species richness is actually lower in the north that in the south, two other characteristics can be explained under the hypothesis of the influence of the last ice age.

The first one is based on the species present throughout Europe. Data show that all scarab species living in the northern territory above the border defined by the 0 C limit in the last glaciations are also present in the south, and there is no species exclusive to the northernmost area. According to Hortal, "this is an effect of the difficulty of adapting to cold climate that still exists, as the north does not hold unique species adapted to the cold."

This feature is consistent with the second observation, based on the age of the species present in each area. The study results show that the species that have been able to re-colonize the north are also those that have evolved most recently." Although the adaptation to cold climates started before the last glaciation, these species belong to the newer phylogenetic branches of the Scarabaeidae," says the researcher from CSIC.

Shared influence

The current distribution of scarabs in Europe demonstrates, therefore, that certain influence of the last ice age is still maintained. According to Hortal, "it is not that the current climate does not affect biodiversity, but rather that the impact of past climate change is hiding under the influence of present conditions." The reason why such impact has not been detected so far is that both cause similar effects, i.e., less species in the North of Europe. The CSIC researcher says that: "current biodiversity patterns are therefore a mixture of past climate effects, current conditions and the evolutionary history of the species."

The results of this investigation show that the consequences of major climate changes persist over a very long term. According to Hortal, "this work should be taken into account when analyzing and forecasting the consequences of the global warming currently experienced by the Earth." The researcher concludes: "If the temperature continues to rise, some climates that never occurred during the recent history of our planet may appear, and we do not know which species, both animal and plant, will be able to adapt to them; in fact, it is possible that many of them will not be able to live in these new climates."


Contact: J. Hortal

Related biology news :

1. Microfossils challenge prevailing views of the effects of Snowball Earth glaciations on life
2. Undergraduate institutions should play larger research role
3. Larger female hyenas produce more offspring
4. Kenyas fisheries management promotes species that grow larger and live longer
5. How plants counteract against the shade of larger neighbors
6. Plants play larger role than thought in cleaning up air pollution
7. Climate change causes larger, more plentiful marmots, study shows
8. Apples grow larger when cells dont divide, study shows
9. NOAA-supported scientists predict larger than average Gulf dead zone
10. Reseachers predict larger-than-average Gulf dead zone; impact of oil spill unclear
11. When the dinner bell rings for seafloor scavengers, larger animals get first dibs
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/2/2015)...  SRI International has been awarded a contract of ... to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) PREVENT Cancer Program ... modern testing and support facilities, and analytical instrumentation to ... studies to evaluate potential cancer prevention drugs. ... Drug Development Program is an NCI-supported pipeline to bring ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... 2015  Connected health pioneer, Joseph C. Kvedar ... technology-enabled health and wellness, and the business opportunities that ... The Internet of Healthy Things . Long before ... existed, Dr. Kvedar, vice president, Connected Health, Partners HealthCare, ... moving care from the hospital or doctor,s office into ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... 27, 2015 Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: SYNA ), ... Google has adopted the Synaptics ® ClearPad ® ... power its newest flagship smartphones, the Nexus 5X by ... --> --> Synaptics works ... strategic collaboration in the joint development of next generation ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/1/2015)...  Symic, a clinical-stage biotherapeutics company developing multiple compounds ... announced that it has secured $25 million in a ... its lead candidates SB-030 and SB-061. The financing was ... all existing major investors, as well as several new ... by Symic to over $43 million since being founded ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... Texas (PRWEB) , ... December 01, 2015 , ... Matthew ... his new post, VerMilyea will oversee all IVF lab procedures as well ... and fertility preservation. , “We traveled 7,305 miles to Auckland, New Zealand to bring ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... Global Stem Cells Group ... in the Santiago Marriott. The Global Stem Cells Group GMP facility is equipped ... of qualified medical researchers and practitioners, experienced in administering stem cell protocols using ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... -- Partnership includes an MPP ... the u niversity , s Solid Drug ... cale - up through ... Africa , where licensees based anywhere in the world will have the right ... Africa , where licensees based anywhere in the world will have ...
Breaking Biology Technology: