Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

“Time-sharing” birds key to evolutionary mystery

19.11.2007
Whereas most birds are sole proprietors of their nests, some tropical species “time share” together – a discovery that helps clear up a 150-year-old evolutionary mystery, says Biology professor Vicki Friesen.

The Queen’s-led international study confirms one of Charles Darwin’s more controversial theories – first put forward in 1859 and since disputed by many experts – that different species can arise, unhindered, in the same place.

Others believe that a geographic barrier such as a mountain or a river is required to produce two separate species. Although focused on how species change over time through natural selection, Darwin’s landmark book, The Origin of Species, also speculates that it is possible for different species to develop in the same place.

The team’s findings will appear in the international journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

With PhD student Andrea Smith and an international team of researchers, Dr. Friesen studied a small seabird called the band-rumped storm petrel, which nests on desert islands in the tropics and sub-tropics. They observed that one set of petrels will breed in burrows, raise their chicks, and leave for the winter. Then a different set of birds moves in – similar to a vacation “time share” – and repeats the pattern in the very same burrows. When the season changes again, the first set of birds will return.

“We’re taught today that new species generally emerge as a result of a geographic barrier such as a mountain range or river, creating two separate populations that can’t easily move from one place to the other,” says Dr. Friesen, an expert in evolutionary biology. “While that model fits for many parts of the natural world, it doesn’t explain why some species appear to have evolved separately, within the same location, where there are no geographic barriers to gene flow.”

The evidence for this happening in certain types of plants, insects and fish has led to a number of scientific explanations, such as salmon spawning in the same location at different times of year. Until now, however, there have only been two documented cases that such a pattern might occur in birds, and no clear evidence as to how it happens in any warm-blooded creature.

Using DNA samples retrieved from birds breeding in the Azores, Madeira, Cape Verde and the Galapagos, the researchers determined that petrels breeding in different seasons but from the same burrows did indeed differ genetically. They also learned that the seasonal species had not bred with each other for periods ranging from around 1,000 to 180,000 years, providing a series of “time shots” of divergence, Dr. Friesen explains.

“This is important for us to know, not just as an explanation for how new species can arise, but also because biodiversity is part of a healthy ecosystem and each bird species is part of our natural heritage,” she says, noting that the European Union is now elevating the conservation status of band-rumped storm petrels.

“It’s also exciting to be able to verify Darwin’s original theory!” Dr. Friesen adds.

Other members of the research team include: Elena Gomez-Diaz and Jacob Gonzalez-Solis from the University of Barcelona; Mark Bolton and the late Luis Monteiro from the University of Azores; and Robert Furness from the University of Glasgow.

Among funders of the study are: the American Museum of Natural History, the American Ornithologists’ Union, the European Economic Union LIFE program, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Queen’s School of Graduate Studies.

Nancy Dorrance | alfa
Further information:
http://www.queensu.ca

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

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: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

22.05.2018 | Trade Fair News

Embryonic development: How do limbs develop from cells?

22.05.2018 | Life Sciences

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat

18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>