Navigation Links
UH: Insular evolution: Large and big-footed voles in an outer archipelago
Date:8/4/2010

According to evolutionary theory, natural selection favours traits that enhance dispersal of populations to new habitats. The empirical evidence supporting this theory, however, is relatively scarce. A study carried out by researchers from the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences of the University of Helsinki, along with their Swedish colleagues, reports rapid evolution of traits facilitating dispersal in an outer archipelago. The results was published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B biological research journal.

Field research revealed that field voles (Microtus agrestis) in the outer archipelago of Stockholm are larger and have longer feet than those living on the mainland. The field voles included in the study were of the same descent, for their habitats emerged from the sea approximately 500 to 1000 years ago as a result of land elevation following the melting of the last glaciers. The islands were colonised by field voles that swam there from the mainland.

The researchers measured and weighed field voles in two mainland and six outer archipelago locations between 1983 and 1987. Then they reared descendants of field voles originating from the mainland and from the archipelago in a laboratory for three years. This was to ensure that the phenotypic differences (body size, foot length) were genetically determined and not caused by, for example, variability in food availability or other environmental conditions. The laboratory-reared descendants of insular voles also had large bodies and long feet. The rate of evolutionary change, measured in darwins, was remarkably rapid.

The results show that insular voles have genetically adapted, through natural selection, to survive in the harsh conditions of the outer archipelago. Their large body size and long feet facilitate dispersal by swimming. Their elongated hind feet enhance swimming ability by enabling better propulsion. Large individuals have better endurance and higher energy capacity for moving long distances in water and on land than small individuals. In addition, large individuals are less susceptible to hypothermia because of their body mass.

Field vole populations in the outer archipelago of Stockholm offered the researchers an excellent model system for testing theoretical predictions born out of evolutionary theory. Once again, the results illustrate and underline the significance of insular populations, such as those on the Galapagos Islands, to research in evolutionary biology. Divergent island populations are also valuable to biological diversity.


'/>"/>

Contact: Juha Meril
juha.merila@helsinki.fi
358-408-374-165
University of Helsinki
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Forced evolution: Can we mutate viruses to death?
2. Evolution: Crabs go deep to avoid hot water
3. Lack of large-scale experiments slows progress of environmental restoration
4. Complete Genomics launches, becomes worlds first large-scale human genome sequencing company
5. Yale journal finds nanomaterials may have large environmental footprint
6. Research uncovers new steps on pathway to enlarged heart
7. Paradigm Tactical Products to be Largest Distributor of Metal/Radiation Detection Wands in United States
8. Less than one month to opening of world’s largest global congress on osteoporosis
9. Small satellite takes on large thunderstorms
10. Pollution at home lurks unrecognized, instead attributed to large-scale environmental disasters
11. Researchers solve piece of large-scale gene silencing mystery
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:11/29/2016)... CANNES, France , November 29, 2016 Nearly ... Continue Reading ... ... System is part of an efficient Identity Management. (PRNewsFoto/DERMALOG Identification Systems) ... DERMALOG is Germany's largest Multi-Biometric ...
(Date:11/21/2016)...   Neurotechnology , a provider of high-precision ... that the MegaMatcher On Card fingerprint matching algorithm ... NIST Minutiae Interoperability Exchange (MINEX) III ... of the evaluation protocol. The ... fingerprint templates used to establish compliance of template ...
(Date:11/15/2016)... , Nov. 15, 2016  Synthetic Biologics, ... developing therapeutics focused on the gut microbiome, today ... of 25,000,000 shares of its common stock and ... stock at a price to the public of ... to Synthetic Biologics from the offering, excluding the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/2/2016)... ... December 01, 2016 , ... ACEA Biosciences, Inc. announced ... I/II clinical trials for AC0010 at the World Conference on Lung Cancer 2016, taking ... update on the phase I/II clinical trials for AC0010 in patients with advanced non-small ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... ... December 01, 2016 , ... The Conference Forum has announced ... days and will take place on February 1-3, 2017 at the Roosevelt Hotel in ... (NCI), the program provides a unique 360-degree approach, which addresses the most up-to-date information ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Robots will storm the Prudential Center in Boston, MA during ... which is held on the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities, will ... workplace. Suitable Technologies is partnering with NTI to showcase how technology can help individuals ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... ... November 30, 2016 , ... BEI Kimco, a brand of ... flexure design that ensures high alignment accuracy by preventing unwanted shaft rotation. The ... where extreme precision is required, such as in medical equipment, laboratory instrumentation, clean ...
Breaking Biology Technology: