Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Climate change and mountain building led to mammal diversity patterns

06.05.2010
Travel from the tropics to the poles, and you'll notice that the diversity of mammals declines with distance from the equator. Move from lowland to mountains, and you'll see diversity increase as the landscape becomes more varied. Ecologists have proposed various explanations for these well-known "biodiversity gradients," invoking ecological, evolutionary and historical processes.

New findings by University of Michigan researchers John A. Finarelli and Catherine Badgley suggest that the elevational patterns of diversity we see today have appeared, disappeared and reappeared over Earth's history and that these patterns arise from interactions between climate change and mountain building.

The results, published online in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, also have implications for conservation efforts in the face of modern-day global warming, said Finarelli, a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Geological Sciences.

In their study, focused on the Miocene Epoch, which began around 23 million years ago and ended about 5 million years ago, Finarelli and Badgley evaluated diversity for more than 400 rodent species from adjacent regions that differed in geologic history and topography. The geologically "active region," which extends from the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific coast, has experienced several episodes of mountain-building and volcanic activity, and as a result has a topographically complex landscape. In contrast, the relatively flat Great Plains, has been more stable geologically.

The prevailing notion has been that diversity is greater in mountainous regions than in lowlands simply because the topography is more complex. As mountains rise up, new habitats are created, and areas that once were continuous become fragmented. Such changes offer opportunities for new species to arise, increasing diversity.

But climate also enters in, the new study shows. During the Miocene, long-term, global cooling was interrupted by warm intervals. In the active region, diversity increased during a warm interval from 17 to 14 million years ago that coincided with intensified mountain building and volcanic activity, the analysis revealed. During subsequent cooling, diversity declined in the mountains and increased on the plains.

"This pattern suggests that the elevational diversity gradient arises during historical episodes associated with global warming and mountain building," said Badgley, an assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and a research scientist in the Museum of Paleontology and the Department of Geological Sciences. "This gradient is not a long-term feature of North American biodiversity."

Although the research focused on ancient ecosystems, the findings have implications for modern times, Finarelli said. "Based on our finding that more complex regions are more sensitive to climate change, threatened areas in mountainous regions should be a particular conservation concern, with respect to human-mediated climate change."

The work also highlights the importance of studies that merge the disciplines of paleontology and biogeography, Finarelli said. "By marrying the two subjects, we can gain a better insight into the ecological and evolutionary processes shaping the world around us."

Nancy Ross-Flanigan | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.umich.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Global threat to primates concerns us all
19.01.2017 | Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH - Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung

nachricht Reducing household waste with less energy
18.01.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>