Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Genes show seasonal trends

06.11.2001


The purple pitcher plant: home to the changing North American mosquito.
© D. Glidden


Mosquitoes’ evolve rapidly in response to global warming.

Mosquitoes are holing up later as winters get warmer, US ecologists have shown. This is the first genetic adaptation to global warming to be identified. Less flexible animals could face extinction, they warn.

The North American mosquito Wyeomyia smithii uses shortening day length to judge when to bed down for the winter. Modern mozzies wait nine days more than their ancestors did in 1972, William Bradshaw and Christina Holzapfel of the University of Oregon in Eugene have discovered1. Warmer autumns are the most likely cause.



Many animals are adjusting to the extended growing season brought on by the slight rise in average global temperatures over the past century. Birds are migrating, seeds germinating and frogs spawning earlier. All of these can be explained as changes in individuals’ behaviour rather than permanent genetic changes.

By catching wild mosquitoes over the past 30 years and testing them under identical artificial lights, Bradshaw and Holzapfel show that the insects’ response to day length has changed. There has been an underlying genetic change - in as little as five years.

The study highlights how species can change rapidly and unpredictably in response to global warming. "You can’t take the characteristics of a species now and predict how it will behave under a future climate," says Chris Thomas, who studies animal behaviour and climate change at the University of Leeds, UK.

Although some species may respond to warmer conditions, some may not, he explains. On the fringes of an animal’s range, small changes in temperature or rainfall can wipe out a habitat and its residents. Different regions and the reactions of example species must be studied to predict the likely consequences of climate change, thinks Thomas. The question is: "When can [a species] evolve itself out of trouble and when can’t it?" he says.

By postponing dormancy, mosquitoes gain in the reproduction stakes. They squeeze in extra breeding cycles and save energy, which they would otherwise burn up during winter, for the next round of mating in spring. The insect lives exclusively in the water-filled cup of the carnivorous purple pitcher plant Sarracenia purpurea, which may make the mosquitoes particularly sensitive to changing conditions, thinks Bradshaw.

In an ecosystem in which many species depend on one another, disrupting one may disrupt them all, Bradshaw warns. Animals with a longer active season might simply run out of prey, for example. Species’ futures may depend on their abilities to adapt to changing seasons, he says.

References
  1. Bradshaw, W.E. & Holzapfel, C.M. Genetic shift in photoperiodic respnse correlated to global warming. Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.241391498 (2001).



HELEN PEARSON | ® Nature News Service
Further information:
http://www.nature.com/nsu/011108/011108-6.html
http://www.nature.com/nsu/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon
09.12.2016 | Wildlife Conservation Society

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

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: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

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...

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

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>