The study reveals a direct link, previously theorised but never proven on a global scale, between the size of the geographical range that a species inhabits and regional variations in extinction risk and biodiversity. The international team hopes this new ability to plot patterns on a global scale will enable conservationists to predict and even slow or reverse future extinctions.
The new data provides the first strong evidence that species’ range areas are smallest in the tropics and larger in temperate and polar regions. A smaller range area means that many different types of creature can be accommodated in the same space, explaining why regions such as the Amazon Basin contain such a rich variety of species. Conversely, temperate areas contain a smaller number of different species since large range areas mean fewer species can co-exist.
This in turn has important implications for extinction risks. The team has shown that species with a smaller range size are at a greater risk of extinction, probably due to their increased vulnerability to events that could change or destroy their habitat. A larger range size, on the other hand, means fewer species but larger populations of those that exist, making it less likely that the whole population can be wiped out by events such as tornados. Lead researcher Professor Ian Owens of Imperial College London's Division of Biology says:
“There are marked variations in biodiversity and extinction rates in different parts of the world, and why this should be has been a big area of research and debate. Theories have pretty much all rested on the core assumption that range size is the key, but until now tests have proved inconclusive due to a lack of global data. This is really a huge step forward in understanding ecology on a world-wide level and hopefully will allow real results in protecting species that we are in danger of losing.”
Researchers have previously thought that range size varied on a latitudinal basis, declining from the largest in the northern hemisphere to the smallest in the southern. The team’s work has revealed a much more complex situation, says Professor Owens, with different patterns emerging globally. He adds:
“We’ve found that the patterns seen in the well-studied northern regions can’t be assumed to apply to the rest of the world - a global perspective is needed. This means that conservation can’t be planned on a one-size-fits-all basis and we will have to properly understand how different micro-ecologies work in order to really make a difference. Our next task is to test whether our findings in birds are replicated in other types of organism.”
Abigail Smith | alfa
International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
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17.03.2017 | ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung
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.
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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...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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