Navigation Links
Predicting the distribution of creatures great and small

In studying how animals change size as they evolve, biologists have unearthed several interesting patterns. For instance, most species are small, but the largest members of a taxonomic group -- such as the great white shark, the Komodo dragon, or the African elephant are often thousands or millions of times bigger than the typical species. Now for the first time two SFI researchers explain these patterns within an elegant statistical framework.

"The agreement between our model and real-world data is surprisingly close," says SFI Postdoctoral Fellow Aaron Clauset, who, along with SFI Professor Douglas Erwin, presented the findings in a July 18 Science paper.

In Clauset and Erwin's model, descendant species are close in size to their ancestors, but with some amount of random variation. But, this variation is constrained, first by a hard limit on how small a species can become, due to physiological constraints, and second by a soft limit on how large a species can become before becoming extinct. After millions of virtual years of new species evolving and old species becoming extinct, the model reaches an equilibrium in which the tendency of species to grow larger is offset by their tendency to become extinct more quickly.

By using fossil data on extinct mammals from up to 60 million years ago to specify the form of the model, the researchers showed that this evolutionary process accurately reproduces the diversity of 4,000 mammal species from the last 50,000 years.

"The model is remarkably compact, " says Aaron. "It also omits many traditional ideas from evolution and ecology, such as population dynamics or species interactions, yet makes very accurate predictions."

Because species size is fundamentally related to so many other characteristics like metabolism, life span and habitat, the researchers' simple evolutionary model offers support to idea that some aspects of evolutionary and ecological theory can be unified.


Contact: Aaron Clauset
Santa Fe Institute

Related biology news :

1. Trial seeks genetic fingerprint for predicting drug effectiveness
2. Predicting growth hormone treatment success
3. Predicting the radiation risk to ESAs astronauts
4. Predicting the perfect predator
5. Weizmann Institute scientists discover: A risk distribution law for evolution
6. Closeness is not a problem: New ways to handle spatial dependencies in species distributions
7. Massive dinosaur discovered in Antarctica sheds light on life, distribution of sauropodomorphs
8. Variable light illuminates the distribution of picophytoplankton
9. Scientists find how amber becomes death trap for watery creatures
10. Sydney harbors deadly diet for sea creatures
11. Childhood obesity indicates greater risk of school absenteeism, Penn study reveals
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/22/2016)... , June 22, 2016 On Monday, ... call to industry to share solutions for the Biometric ... U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), explains that CBP ... are departing the United States , ... and to defeat imposters. Logo - ...
(Date:6/16/2016)... FRANCISCO , June 16, 2016 ... size is expected to reach USD 1.83 ... by Grand View Research, Inc. Technological proliferation and ... banking applications are expected to drive the market ... ) , The development of advanced ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... 2016 Paris Police Prefecture ... security solution to ensure the safety of people and operations ... the major tournament Teleste, an international technology group ... announced today that its video security solution will be utilised ... up public safety across the country. The system roll-out is ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 A person commits a crime, and ... to track the criminal down. An outbreak of ... Drug Administration (FDA) uses DNA evidence to track down the ... Sound far-fetched? It,s not. The FDA has increasingly used a ... of foodborne illnesses. Put as simply as possible, whole genome ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... FRANCISCO , June 23, 2016   EpiBiome ... has secured $1 million in debt financing from Silicon ... ramp up automation and to advance its drug development ... its new facility. "SVB has been an ... beyond the services a traditional bank would provide," said ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016  Blueprint Bio, a company dedicated to identifying, ... community, has closed its Series A funding round, according ... "We have received a commitment from Forentis Fund ... to meet our current goals," stated Matthew Nunez ... to complete validation on the current projects in our ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Connecticut (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... introduce a new line of intelligent tools designed, tuned and optimized exclusively for ... September 12–17 in Chicago. The result of a collaboration among several companies with ...
Breaking Biology Technology: