Research published in the May 8th issue of the journal Nature challenges current thinking about biodiversity and opens up new avenues for predicting how climate change or human activity may affect biodiversity patterns.
In the article, an international group of researchers demonstrates that the distribution of fish species in a river system can be accurately predicted with a simple method that uses only the geomorphology of the river network and rainfall measurements for the river system.
The 3,225,000 km2 Mississippi-Missouri river basin covers all or part of 31 US states, spanning diverse habitat types and encompassing very different environmental conditions. The one thing linking all these habitats is the vast river network. Using geomorphological data from the US Geological Survey, the researchers – hydrologists from Princeton University and the EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland, and biologists from the University of Maryland – identified 824 sub-basins in the network. In these, the simple presence (or not) of 433 species of fish was established from a database of US freshwater fish populations. Data on the average runoff production –the amount of rainfall that ends up in the river system and not evaporated back into the air – was then used to calculate the habitat capacity of each sub-basin.
With just four parameters, it’s “an almost ridiculously simple model,” explains EPFL professor Andrea Rinaldo. The model results were compared to extensive data on actual fish species distributions. Various different measures of biodiversity were analyzed, and the researchers were surprised to find that the model captured these complex patterns quite accurately. The model is all the more remarkable for what it does not contain – any reference, anywhere, to the biological properties of individual fish species.
It is a formulation that could be applied to any river system, or in fact, any network at all. All that's needed are the geomorphology of the landscape and an estimate of average dispersal behavior and habitat capacity. This model is general enough that it could be used to explore population migrations or epidemics of water-borne diseases in addition to biodiversity patterns. The researchers plan to extend their work to explore the extent to which simple hydrology can act as the determining factor in a wide range of biodiversity patterns.
“These results are a powerful reminder of the overarching importance of water, and the water-defined landscape, in determining patterns of life,” notes Princeton professor Ignacio Rodriguez-Iturbe. It provides a framework that could be used to connect large scale environmental changes to biodiversity. Changes in precipitation patterns, perhaps due to global climate change, could be mapped to changes in habitat capacities in the model, ultimately providing a way to estimate how climate change would alter large-scale patterns of biodiversity. It could also be used for an assessment of the impact of specific, local human activities, such as flow re-routing or damming, on the biodiversity patterns in a river network.
Mary Parlange | alfa
Global threat to primates concerns us all
19.01.2017 | Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH - Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung
Reducing household waste with less energy
18.01.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH
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...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
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...
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...
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...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
19.01.2017 | Studies and Analyses
19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
19.01.2017 | Life Sciences