Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Arizona are using a common agricultural insect pest to understand how ecological and evolutionary factors drive population shifts in the face of a changing environment.
A study appearing March 6 in the journal Science shows that both ecological interactions within a food web and the potential for rapid evolutionary adaptation play critical roles in determining how populations of the legume-loving pea aphid fare during increasing bouts of hot weather, one aspect of predicted climate change.
One of the most important lessons of the work is that predictions of the consequences of environmental change on populations must take into account both ecological and evolutionary complexities, says Jason Harmon, a UW-Madison postdoctoral researcher and lead author of the new study.
"If you're interested in environmental change and how species are going to respond to it, you can't just look at a single species in isolation as it is right now. You have to think about those other species around it, and you have to think about the species' potential to change along with the environment," he says.
Bouts of high temperature decrease pea aphid reproduction, but inherited bacteria living symbiotically within the aphids bestow them with a possible evolutionary defense. "Because we can experimentally manipulate aphid bacteria, we have an excellent model system to explore evolutionary adaptation," says University of Arizona professor of ecology and evolutionary biology Nancy Moran, a co-author of the study.
The researchers showed that the degree of heat tolerance conferred by the symbiotic bacteria influenced whether the aphids thrived or succumbed to experimental heat stress in the field. The result shows that the potential for rapid evolution can have a large impact on how populations respond to environmental change, they say.
The detriment of the additional hot days also depended on which of two different predatory ladybeetle species was present, showing that the structures of local food webs may mitigate environmental changes.
"Right now, a lot of work is focused on just individual species," says UW-Madison zoology professor Anthony Ives. "To understand what happens to any one particular species, you need to broaden your scope and consider other species."
While predicting the response of species to climate change is complicated, Ives says, the new study may help de-mystify complex processes by identifying specific factors that are relevant. He hopes that this new work will help other scientists take a broad ecological and evolutionary view while studying the effects of environmental change.
"We're identifying things that people should look for because they could be important, as opposed to saying it's just too complicated," he says. "It's difficult, but not impossible."
Tony Ives | EurekAlert!
Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel
Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.
Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...
Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.
Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
25.04.2018 | Materials Sciences
25.04.2018 | Studies and Analyses