Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Where there’s muck there’s grass

01.09.2003


The oldest ecological experiment in the world, set up almost 150 years ago to see whether inorganic fertilisers could produce more grass than traditional animal manures, is becoming an important source of evidence on the impact of climate change on genetic variation in plants.



Speaking at the British Ecological Society’s Annual Meeting, being held at Manchester Metropolitan University on 9-11 September 2003, Professor Jonathan Silvertown of the Open University will explain what the Park Grass Experiment has taught ecologists over the past century and how this uniquely long dataset has shed new light on many ecological problems, including the link between the genetics and population dynamics of species.

Set up in 1856, three years before Charles Darwin published his Origin of Species, the Park Grass Experiment is a hay meadow at Rothamsted Research to which a series of different fertiliser treatments have been applied annually. As well as measuring the yield of hay from each plot, ecologists have also measured the change in species composition in the meadow, and kept samples of the hay cut from it over the years.


Professor Silvertown will tell the meeting: “Long-term observations are increasingly important to understanding climate change and now show beyond any reasonable doubt that the warming of the Earth’s climate over the course of the 20th century has had detectable and widespread effects on the distribution, abundance and seasonal behaviour of plant and animal species. Climate change not only alters the abundance and behaviour of species, but also the evolutionary pressures acting upon them and so we can expect natural selection to alter the genetic composition of our native plants and animals.”

“Our best tool for predicting what may happen in the next 50 years is what has happened over that last 100 years in response to historical droughts etc. Apart from the Park Grass Experiment, very few natural habitats have been under continuous study for this length of time. By studying 20th century records of plant species found within the experiment and combining these with experiments on the population dynamics and genetics of plants growing there, we have found that species that have a self-fertilising mating system seem to be more prone to local extinction than species that reproduce by outcrossing. We think that this may be because populations of self-fertilising species have only limited genetic variation and that this makes it more difficult for them to adapt to changing conditions. This is some of the best evidence yet that the genetics of natural plant populations influences their ability to survive over the long term.”

Professor Silvertown is now planning to analyse the DNA of hay samples cut and stored more than 50 years before Crick and Watson discovered the structure of DNA. “We are now investigating the exciting possibility that we can look retrospectively at the genetics of plants that grew in the experiment over 100 years ago. This is being done by extracting DNA from old samples of hay that have been stored at Rothamsted. Our aim is to develop a genetic record for the plants at Park Grass that will parallel the 140 year-long ecological record which we already have. When we can compare the two records, we should be able to see how climatic changes that influence the abundance of species alter genetic variation, with possible consequences for the fate of plant species in the future,” he says.

Professor Silvertown will present his full findings at 10:20 on Thursday 11 September 2003.

Becky Allen | alfa
Further information:
http://www.britishecologicalsociety.org/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

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: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Porous crystalline materials: TU Graz researcher shows method for controlled growth

07.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

Simple processing technique could cut cost of organic PV and wearable electronics

06.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

3-D printed kidney phantoms aid nuclear medicine dosing calibration

06.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>