Global warming and other human-caused ecological changes are outpacing the ability of species to adapt, resulting in greater threats of disease, reduced diversity in plant and animal communities, and an overall loss of natural heritage, according to research presented at a University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) summit and published in the peer-reviewed journal Molecular Ecology.
The Jan. 3, 2008, edition of Molecular Ecology (online now at http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/toc/mec/17/1) is dedicated to research presented at the conference Evolutionary Change in Human-altered Environments sponsored by the UCLA Institute of the Environment in February 2007. The Special Issue includes 38 peer-reviewed articles.
Evolutionary change caused by human activities touches every ecosystem on the planet, yet our understanding of the processes and the long-term consequences remain poorly understood, conference co-organizers Thomas Smith (UCLA biology professor and acting director of the UCLA Institute of the Environment) and Louis Bernatchez (Universit Laval in Quebec and Canadian Research Chair in Genomics and Conservation of Aquatic Resources) said in the Special Issues preface.
They called for additional research and for academia and policy makers to collaborate more closely to incorporate evolution in planning and to develop strategies to maximize and preserve evolutionary novelty and adaptability. Namely, but certainly not exclusively, the looming threats of climate change beg for more evolutionary studies, particularly those that rigorously explore and contrast environmental and genetic changes in natural populations, Smith and Bernatchez said.
Besides issues surrounding climate change, scientists attending the UCLA summit and writing in Molecular Ecology presented research showing the survival of species can be adversely impacted by the introduction of non-plant and animal species and by the introduction of captive-bred
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