Navigation Links
Toward resolving Darwin's 'abominable mystery'
Date:9/16/2010

What, in nature, drives the incredible diversity of flowers? This question has sparked debate since Darwin described flower diversification as an 'abominable mystery.' The answer has become a lot clearer, according to scientists at the University of Calgary whose research on the subject is published today in the on-line edition of the journal Ecology Letters.

Drs. Jana Vamosi and Steven Vamosi of the Department of Biological Sciences have found through extensive statistical analysis that the size of the geographical area is the most important factor when it comes to biodiversity of a particular flowering plant family.

The researchers were looking at the underlying forces at work spurring diversity -- such as why there could be 22,000 varieties of some families of flowers, orchids for example, while there could be only forty species of others, like the buffaloberry family. In other words, what factors have produced today's biodiversity?

"Our research found that the most important factor is available area. The number of species in a lineage is most keenly determined by the size of the continent (or continents) that it occupies," says Jana Vamosi.

Steven Vamosi adds that while the findings of this research mostly shed light on what produces the world's diversity, it may comment on what produces extinction patterns as well.

"The next step is to determine if patterns of extinction risk mirror those observed for diversification, specifically to contrast the relative influence of available area and traits," he says.

Typically, when it comes to explaining the biodiversity of flowering plants, biologists' opinions fall into three different camps: family traits (for example a showy flower versus a plain flower), environment (tropic versus arid climate) or sheer luck in geography (a seed makes it way to a new continent and expands the geographical range of a family).

But the Vamosi research demonstrates that geography isn't the only answer, traits of the family came in a close second to geography. Traits that may encourage greater diversity are known as "key innovations" and scientists have hypothesized that some families possess more species because they are herbs, possess fleshy fruits (such as an apple or peach), or that their flowers have a more complex morphology. Zygomorphy (or when a flower can only be divided down the middle to make two equal mirror images) is thought to restrict the types of pollinators that can take nectar and pollen from the flower. Flies, for instance, won't often visit zygomorphic flowers. Bees, on the other hand, adore them.

"Although geography may play a primary role, a close second is the flower morphology of the plants in a particular family," says Jana Vamosi. "So essentially all camps may claim partial victory because morphological traits should be considered in the context of geographical area."


'/>"/>

Contact: Leanne Yohemas
leanne.yohemas@ucalgary.ca
403-220-5144
University of Calgary
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. A step toward a new sunscreen?
2. Advance toward earlier detection of melanoma
3. First step toward electronic DNA sequencing: Translocation through graphene nanopores
4. Toward a new generation of superplastics
5. At opening of XVIII International AIDS Conference, scientific, community and political leaders applaud recent progress toward universal access and urge continued momentum to finish what weve started
6. Toward making extended blood group typing more widely available
7. Scientists locate oil plume extending toward Dry Tortugas
8. International panel recommends redirecting the world community toward sustainable growth
9. Scientists make important step toward stopping plaque-like formations in Huntingtons disease
10. New steps toward a universal flu vaccine
11. Toward simplifying treatment of a serious eye infection
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Toward resolving Darwin's 'abominable mystery'
(Date:3/30/2017)... Trends, opportunities and forecast in this market ... (fingerprint, AFIS, iris recognition, facial recognition, hand geometry, vein ... use industry (government and law enforcement, commercial and retail, ... others), and by region ( North America ... Pacific , and the Rest of the World) ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... -- The Controller General of Immigration from Maldives Mr. ... have received the prestigious international IAIR Award for the most innovative high ... ... Maldives Immigration Controller ... (small picture on the right) have received the IAIR award for the ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... , March 21, 2017   Neurotechnology , ... recognition technologies, today announced the release of the ... which provides improved facial recognition using up to ... a single computer. The new version uses deep ... accuracy, and it utilizes a Graphing Processing Unit ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/23/2017)... ... May 23, 2017 , ... Kathy ... President of Clinical Operations. She brings years of expertise in establishing and leading ... professional foundation as a licensed occupational therapist, through a variety of leadership roles ...
(Date:5/22/2017)... Maryland (PRWEB) , ... May 22, 2017 , ... ... Olsen, joined with other leaders of the Maryland Biohealth community in developing and ... globally recognized Top 3 U.S. BioHealth Innovation Hub by 2023. ...
(Date:5/19/2017)... ... May 19, 2017 , ... The University City Science Center ... ripe for commercialization, and who are affiliated with the 21 partner academic and ... QED, now in its tenth round, is the first multi-institutional proof-of-concept program for ...
(Date:5/18/2017)... ... May 17, 2017 , ... ... further enhances its scientific power by providing investigators access to a high-profile ... to join the scientific advisory board. “We are committed to offering superior ...
Breaking Biology Technology: