Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Report challenges common ecological hypothesis about species abundance

05.10.2006
A new report finds little empirical evidence to support a widely held ecological assumption that species are most abundant near the centers of their geographic ranges and decline in abundance near the ranges' edges.

"When we reviewed data from published studies that looked at species abundance at multiple sites across a range, we found almost no evidence that supported the so-called 'abundant-center hypothesis' and strong evidence that contradicted it," said Raphael D. Sagarin, associate director for oceans and coastal policy at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

"This is troubling," Sagarin said, "because a lot of current thinking on ecological and evolutionary issues -- including how species will respond to climate change, how to identify probable locations of pest outbreaks, how genetic diversity is distributed among populations and where to locate habitat preserves -- has been based on the hypothesis."

The validity of these ideas now needs to be re-examined using empirical studies, he said.

Sagarin is one of the principal authors of the report, which appeared in the September 2006 issue of the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution. Other authors are Steven D. Gaines of the University of California-Santa Barbara's Marine Science Institute and Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology; and Brian Gaylord of the University of California-Davis's Bodega Marine Laboratory and Section of Evolution and Ecology.

For their analysis, the authors reviewed not only published studies but also some new sets of data that they had compiled from field observations in a number of coastal locations of such invertebrate species as sea urchins, sea anemones and snails. They found that most of the studies showed that patterns of abundance were affected by a complex interplay of environmental, physical, biological, genetic and geographical factors that the abundant-center hypothesis failed to take into account.

Population clusters and high abundance sometimes occurred right at the geographic edges of the species' ranges, they found.

"Ecologists need to go back into the field and sample populations, taking advantage of new technologies that allow us to see what populations are actually like on scales not previously possible," Sagarin said. "In some way, it's a return to old-school ecology, but armed with high-tech tools we didn't have 30 years ago."

Advances in remote sensing, biophysical monitoring, ecological physiology, molecular genetics and genomics are rapidly enhancing scientists' ability to identify population and individual patterns across large spatial scales, he said. Scientists can collect data on such factors as growth rates, genetics, climate, human-caused impacts and species interactions in different parts of a population's range, and then look at the overlay of these variables and see the larger story, rather than making a simplifying assumption based on one variable.

"Theory and experimentation have their place," Sagarin said. "They can play important roles in helping us predict, in general, future changes in species' ranges due to climate change. But you need empirical field-based data to know, more specifically, how this is going to look on the ground. When a range shifts, is it going to look like the gradual arrival of a new species, or like an actual invasion? Theory alone can't tell us that."

Tim Lucas | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.duke.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

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: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>