New research suggests, however, that geologically dynamic regions sustain higher biodiversity. Young mountainous areas offer new habitats, ecological gradients and unoccupied niches in which new species evolve.
Scientists from the Universities of Amsterdam, Gothenburg and Frankfurt, the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F) advocate in today's issue of the journal Nature Geoscience for a closer cooperation between life and earth sciences.
Long-term environmental stability does not correlate with species richness and biodiversity. Rather, recent studies indicate that unstable, changing habitats open new avenues for biodiversity. Especially the uplift of mountain ranges plays a major role: It creates a multitude of dynamic habitats with new climatic and physical conditions and ecological gradients that are available to be colonized by emerging species.
Mountain ranges: Barriers and bridges at the same time
Mountain ranges have various direct impacts on biodiversity: While they prevent the spread of some organisms, they represent bridges between separate habitats for others. Uplifting mountains divide previously continuous habitats, or connect land masses and create new paths for spreading species. Mountainous regions are also home to a variety of species adapted to environmental niches – and these species seem to be less affected by changing climatic conditions than lowland species that occupy a large range: The former only need to move short distances to meet suitable temperature conditions. Thus, due to their high biodiversity, a result of high speciation and low extinction, mountains act as “biodiversity pumps”, feeding the rest of the continents.
In constant flux: formation of new habitats
Mountains also exert indirect influence on biodiversity. South America’s Amazon basin, for example, immensely rich in biodiversity, would not exist without the Andes. Following the uplift of the mountain range, the Amazon basin formed. The runoff from the Andes and the nutrient-rich sediments provided by constant Andean weathering of rocks form the basis for the unique species richness of the Amazon region. The impact of the mountains even extends far into the Atlantic Ocean: the Amazon Plume, sediments transported by the river which are clearly visible on satellite images, creates geochemical conditions entirely different from neighboring ocean zones. And this is not a unique case: Prof. Dr. Andreas Mulch (BiK-F, SGN and Goethe University), one of the authors points out: "This continental impact of a mountain region as a driver of evolution is not specific to the Andes. It also applies to the Himalayas or the Alps.
Pioneer Alfred Wegener: call for cooperation between earth and life sciences
"Already Alfred Wegener, when he presented his theory of continental drift at the Senckenberg Museum, advocated an interdisciplinary approach," says Prof. Dr. Volker Mosbrugger, Director General of the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and co-author of the paper. "But only today, a hundred years later, this cooperation is finally being realized." To understand formation and vanishing of global biodiversity, earth and life sciences but must join forces. A growing scientific interest in interdisciplinary projects, new molecular techniques and advanced reconstructions of Earth surface processes enable scientists to explain more comprehensively, how geology and climate interact to influence evolutionary processes. In their comment to the journal Nature Geoscience, the scientists argue that research should embrace these joint approaches, since comprehensive understanding of global biodiversity is only to be achieved if the interactions of geo- and biosphere are addressed by interdisciplinary efforts.
Hoorn, C., Mosbrugger, V., Mulch, A. & A. Antonelli: Biodiversity from mountain building. Nature Geoscience, doi:10.1038/ngeo1742
For further information please contact:
Prof. Dr. Andreas Mulch
LOEWE Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F)
Tel. +49 (0)69 7542 1881
Dr. Julia Krohmer
LOEWE Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F),
Phone +49 (0)69 7542 1837
LOEWE Biodiversität und Klima Forschungszentrum, Frankfurt am Main
With the objective of analysis the complex interactions between biodiversity and climate through a wide range of methods, the Biodiversität und Klima Forschungszentrum [Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre] (BiK‐F) has been funded since 2008 within the context of the Landes‐Offensive zur Entwicklung Wissenschaftlich-ökonomischer Exzellenz (LOEWE) of the Land of Hessen. The Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Goethe University in Frankfurt as well as other, directly involved partners, co‐operate closely with regional, national and international institutions in the fields of science, resource and environmental management, in order to develop projections for the future and scientific recommendations for sustainable action.
Further Reports about: Amazon basin > Andes Mountains > BiK-F > Biodiversity > Climate change > evolutionary process > Forum Life Science > Geoscience > global biodiversity > molecular technique > mountain range > Nature Geoscience > Nature Immunology > Naturforschung > Senckenberg
More articles from Earth Sciences:
NASA satellite sees developing tropical depression near Philippines
18.06.2013 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Second Atlantic season tropical depression forms
18.06.2013 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
... two engines aircraft project “Elektro E6”.
The countdown has been started for opening the gates again for the worldwide leading aviation and space event in Le Bourget, Paris from June 17th - 23rd, 2013.
EADCO & PC-Aero will present at the Paris Air Show in Hall H4 booth F-7 their new future aircraft and innovative project: ...
Siemens scientists have developed new kinds of ceramics in which they can embed transformers.
The new development allows power supply transformers to be reduced to one fifth of their current size so that the normally separate switched-mode power supply units of light-emitting diodes can be integrated into the module's heat sink.
The new technology was developed in cooperation with industrial and research partners who ...
Cheaper clean-energy technologies could be made possible thanks to a new discovery.
Led by Raymond Schaak, a professor of chemistry at Penn State University, research team members have found that an important chemical reaction that generates hydrogen from water is effectively triggered -- or catalyzed -- by a nanoparticle composed of nickel and phosphorus, two inexpensive elements that are abundant on Earth. ...
The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT generated a lot of interest at the LASER World of Photonics 2013 trade fair with its numerous industrial laser technology innovations.
Its highlights included beam sources and manufacturing processes for ultrashort laser pulses as well as ways to systematically optimize machining processes using computer simulations. There was even a specialist booth at the fair dedicated to the revolutionary technological potential of digital photonic production.
Now in its fortieth year, LASER World ...
It's not reruns of "The Jetsons", but researchers working at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a new microscopy technique that uses a process similar to how an old tube television produces a picture—cathodoluminescence—to image nanoscale features.
Combining the best features of optical and scanning electron microscopy, the fast, versatile, and high-resolution technique allows scientists to view surface and subsurface features potentially as small as 10 nanometers in size.
The new microscopy technique, described in the journal AIP Advances,* uses a beam of electrons to excite a specially ...
18.06.2013 | Materials Sciences
18.06.2013 | Health and Medicine
18.06.2013 | Life Sciences
14.06.2013 | Event News
13.06.2013 | Event News
10.06.2013 | Event News