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!
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)
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...
Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.
Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
23.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.04.2018 | Trade Fair News