The Galapagos Islands have an iconic status in the history of evolutionary study, now new research shows that the islands’ own geological past may have influenced the evolution of the chain’s native species.
Writing in the Journal of Biogeography, Jason Ali and Jonathan Aitchison explore how fluctuating sea level changes over thousands of years impacted the island chain’s ecology.
They estimate that when the sea retreated, most recently 20,000 years ago, the water would have been 144m below its current level.
As a result, Santa Cruz, the island in the center of the archipelago, would have expanded, enveloping many of the smaller islands, while creating a series of shallow ‘land bridges’ between the volcanic outcroppings.
Such bridges explain the range and diversity of the islands' species, such as snakes, geckos and iguanas, which appear landlocked to modern eyes.
“As soon as I saw that that half the islands in the archipelago were sat on a single, shallow, submarine platform, I realized that the implications for biology could be significant,” said Dr. Ali.
“My geological knowledge told me that sea-level falls must have regularly re-connected the islands, and that this must have profoundly shaped the landlocked biota’s distribution, and very likely its composition.”
Ben Norman | Eurek Alert!
Cold Hotspots: METEOR expedition takes a close look at upwelling zones in the Baltic Sea
28.07.2015 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde
Twin volcanic chains above a single hotspot with distinct roots
28.07.2015 | Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR)
Researchers have developed an ultrafast light-emitting device that can flip on and off 90 billion times a second and could form the basis of optical computing.
Joint BioEnergy Institute study identifies bacterial protein that is key to protecting rice against bacterial blight
A bacterial signal that when recognized by rice plants enables the plants to resist a devastating blight disease has been identified by a multi-national team...
Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin are one step closer to delivering smart windows with a new level of energy efficiency, engineering materials that allow windows to reveal light without transferring heat and, conversely, to block light while allowing heat transmission, as described in two new research papers.
By allowing indoor occupants to more precisely control the energy and sunlight passing through a window, the new materials could significantly reduce costs for...
Argonne scientists used Mira to identify and improve a new mechanism for eliminating friction, which fed into the development of a hybrid material that exhibited superlubricity at the macroscale for the first time. Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF) researchers helped enable the groundbreaking simulations by overcoming a performance bottleneck that doubled the speed of the team's code.
While reviewing the simulation results of a promising new lubricant material, Argonne researcher Sanket Deshmukh stumbled upon a phenomenon that had never been...
A NASA camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite has returned its first view of the entire sunlit side of Earth from one million miles away.
The color images of Earth from NASA's Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) are generated by combining three separate images to create a...
23.07.2015 | Event News
10.07.2015 | Event News
25.06.2015 | Event News
28.07.2015 | Life Sciences
28.07.2015 | Materials Sciences
28.07.2015 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation