While scientists have developed methods to predict aspects of fish diversity in specific river locations, a model to understand what factors may drive a comprehensive suite of fish biodiversity patterns in a large and complex system of rivers has been elusive.
Now a group of researchers, including University of Maryland ecologist William Fagan, reports success using a so-called “neutral model” to study fish diversity in the sprawling Mississippi-Missouri River System. Their study appears in the May 8 issue of Nature.
According to Nature, “That a simple model with a minimal set of parameters can capture the observed biodiversity patterns in complex landscapes suggests that effective monitoring of environmental change is possible, and could contribute to resource management and conservation strategies.”
“The neutral model approach means that we do not need to have detailed knowledge about the competitive hierarchy or species interactions within a group of organisms to quantitatively reproduce a wide variety of biodiversity patterns in that system,” said Fagan, co-principal investigator of the study. “This 'pattern oriented modeling,' in which we simultaneously reproduce a wide variety of empirical results using a single model fit, is a powerful approach for analyzing complex systems.”
Using the neutral model, in which all species are assumed to be functionally equivalent, to predict biodiversity has been controversial in ecology circles.
“Neutrality is a 'hot' topic in ecology, because it flies in the face of decades of detailed studies of how species interact among themselves on local scales,” says Fagan. “The application of the neutral model to a complex, hierarchically structured spatial network like the Mississippi-Missouri River System is new.
“With a neutral model, we can suggest that a coarse assumption of equality is an excellent starting point for large scale investigations when little species-specific information is available.”
M-M River System
The Mississippi-Missouri River System was a good study area, Fagan says, because it is the largest confluent drainage system covered by the NatureServe dataset.
“The fact that we can replicate key aspects of the spatial patterns of fish biodiversity from the Appalachians to the Rockies testifies to the robustness of this approach,” said Fagan.
“One upshot from this work, still to be vetted in other systems, is the idea that some knowledge of the branching geometry of a river network, coupled with average runoff production, can provide crucial insights into the amount and spatial distribution of freshwater biodiversity and how that biodiversity may change as discharge patterns change.”
Ellen Ternes | EurekAlert!
Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
29.03.2017 | Health and Medicine
29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences
29.03.2017 | Trade Fair News