That's the take-home message of a paper published in this week's issue of the journal Science by researchers Ann Budd of the University of Iowa and John Pandolfi of the University of Queensland, Australia.
Budd and Pandolfi focus on understanding the biodiversity of reef-building corals--organisms that are highly diverse and seriously threatened.
Their work focuses on evolutionary processes documented in the fossil record over long time periods, a history that encompasses and shows the effects of global environmental change.
"The research demonstrates that the predominance of evolutionary innovation occurs at the outlying edges of Caribbean coral species ranges, as opposed to the well-connected central part of the Caribbean," said H. Richard Lane, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Division of Earth Sciences, which funded the research along with NSF's Division of Environmental Biology.The scientists conclude that if coral reef conservation strategies protect only the centers of high species richness, they will miss important sources of evolutionary novelty during periods of global change.
"However, areas ranked highly for these factors may not represent regions of maximum evolutionary potential."
Budd and Pandolfi conducted their study by analyzing the relationship between geography and evolutionary innovation in a complex of Caribbean reef corals where morphological and genetic data match on species differences.
Based on a comparison of fossil corals and modern colonies, the scientists found that morphological disparity varies from the center to the edge of the Caribbean, and that lineages are static at well-connected central locations--but split or fuse in edge zones.
"The results show that edge zones are critical to biodiversity," Budd said.
The findings mirror those of studies of the molecular biogeography of sea urchins and other marine invertebrates, she said, and are important to understanding the evolutionary ecology of the sea under projected global climate change.
The scientists argue for a coral reef conservation strategy that not only takes into account biodiversity hotspots, but also focuses on evolutionary processes and the preservation of peripheral areas of species ranges, as well as connectivity among populations.
Cheryl Dybas | EurekAlert!
Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers
Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...
Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.
At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...
3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects
A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
25.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
25.07.2017 | Earth Sciences
25.07.2017 | Life Sciences