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!
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Today, plants and microorganisms are heavily used for the production of medicinal products. The production of biopharmaceuticals in plants, also referred to as “Molecular Pharming”, represents a continuously growing field of plant biotechnology. Preferred host organisms include yeast and crop plants, such as maize and potato – plants with high demands. With the help of a special algal strain, the research team of Prof. Ralph Bock at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam strives to develop a more efficient and resource-saving system for the production of medicines and vaccines. They tested its practicality by synthesizing a component of a potential AIDS vaccine.
The use of plants and microorganisms to produce pharmaceuticals is nothing new. In 1982, bacteria were genetically modified to produce human insulin, a drug...
Atomic clock experts from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) are the first research group in the world to have built an optical single-ion clock which attains an accuracy which had only been predicted theoretically so far. Their optical ytterbium clock achieved a relative systematic measurement uncertainty of 3 E-18. The results have been published in the current issue of the scientific journal "Physical Review Letters".
Atomic clock experts from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) are the first research group in the world to have built an optical single-ion clock...
The University of Würzburg has two new space projects in the pipeline which are concerned with the observation of planets and autonomous fault correction aboard satellites. The German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy funds the projects with around 1.6 million euros.
Detecting tornadoes that sweep across Mars. Discovering meteors that fall to Earth. Investigating strange lightning that flashes from Earth's atmosphere into...
Physicists from Saarland University and the ESPCI in Paris have shown how liquids on solid surfaces can be made to slide over the surface a bit like a bobsleigh on ice. The key is to apply a coating at the boundary between the liquid and the surface that induces the liquid to slip. This results in an increase in the average flow velocity of the liquid and its throughput. This was demonstrated by studying the behaviour of droplets on surfaces with different coatings as they evolved into the equilibrium state. The results could prove useful in optimizing industrial processes, such as the extrusion of plastics.
The study has been published in the respected academic journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America).
Exceeding critical temperature limits in the Southern Ocean may cause the collapse of ice sheets and a sharp rise in sea levels
A future warming of the Southern Ocean caused by rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere may severely disrupt the stability of the West...
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