Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Species Have Come and Gone at Different Rates than Previously Believed

08.07.2008
Improved understanding of the history of biological diversity has implications for future responses to climate change

Diversity among the ancestors of such marine creatures as clams, sand dollars and lobsters showed only a modest rise beginning 144 million years ago with no clear trend afterwards, according to an international team of researchers. This contradicts previous work showing dramatic increases beginning 248 million years ago and may shed light on future diversity.

"Some of the time periods in the past are analogies for what is happening today from global warming," says Jocelyn Sessa of Penn State. "Understanding what happened with diversity in the past can help us provide some prediction on how modern organisms will fare. If we know where we have been, we know something about where it will go."

Using contemporary statistical methods and a paleobiology database, the researchers report in the July 4 issue of Science, a new diversity curve that shows that most of the early spread of invertebrates took place well before the Late Cretaceous, and that the net increase through the period since, is proportionately small relative to the 65 million years that elapsed. The research team was led by John Alroy of the University of California at Santa Barbara.

One key to the new curve is the Paleobiology Database, (http://paleodb.org/cgi-bin/bridge.pl) housed at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, University of California, Santa Barbara. Previous research was based on databases of marine invertebrate fossils that recorded only the first occurrence of an organism and the last occurrence of the organism. There was no information in between for the organism.

"Over 30 years ago, researchers looked at the curve they had and considered that perhaps diversity did not increase at all," says Mark E. Patzkowsky of Penn State. "What researchers saw was the diversity curve leveled off for quite some time and then took off exponentially. However, diversity results are strongly controlled by sampling techniques."

The new database allows researchers to standardize sample size because it includes multiple occurrences of each fossil. Researchers can randomly choose equal samples from equal time spans to create their diversity curve. This new curve uses 11 million-year segments, but the researchers hope to reduce the time intervals to 5 million years to match the interval of the previous curve, known as Sepkoski.

The data for this study contains 284,816 fossil occurrences of 18,702 genera that equals about 3.4 million specimens from 5384 literature sources. The old curve, developed by J. John Sepkoski Jr., used a database that contained only about 60,000 occurrences.

The researchers also looked at evenness in diversity. If there are 100 specimens divided into 10 time intervals, they could be divided with 10 individual specimens in each interval, or 91 specimens could be in one interval with one each in the remainder. The more even the distribution, the higher the evenness.

"Evenness says something about resource distribution," says Patzkowsky. "Much of invertebrate diversity has been attributed to diversity increase in the tropics, but the curve is not driven by that totally. It seems that 450 million years ago was not so different from today because it also contained more diversity in the tropics."

The major points of the Sepkoski curve are still seen in the new curve. Some things that are not seen, such as the decrease in diversity due to the Cretaceous Tertiary (KT) extinction 65 million years ago are not visible because of the scale of the intervals used. The extinction and recovery in the KT took less than 11 million years and so do not show.

Some things not seen on the Sepkoski curve include a peak in the Permian. Also unexpected is that the diversity in the Jurassic (206 to 144 million years ago) is lower than diversity in the Triassic (248 to 206 million years ago), indicating a dip and rise in the diversity curve.

The curve then rises in the Cretaceous and remains more or less flat after that. The previously thought exponential increase in diversity is not there.

"Comparing diversity through time is about how our world works, about the origin of species and how diversity changes with temperature," says Sessa. "If we think that the net increase over time will not get much greater, things are very different from if the diversity increases exponentially."

The National Science Foundation and NASA supported this research.

Lily Whiteman | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nsf.gov

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

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: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientist invents way to trigger artificial photosynthesis to clean air

26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ammonium nitrogen input increases the synthesis of anticarcinogenic compounds in broccoli

26.04.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history

26.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>