“With the results we present in this article, we’ve rewritten the entire history of Amazonia in terms of the development of its biodiversity,” says Alexandre Antonelli from the University of Gothenburg’s Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, and scientific curator at the Gothenburg Botanical Garden (Sweden).
Amazonia’s wealth of species is by far the greatest in the world. Although researchers have long suspected that the diversity of the Amazonian rainforest was affected by the Andes, the causal links have been unclear until now, and there have been a wide range of scientific theories on the origins of the species found there.COMPARED DATA FOR 65 MILLION YEARS
“We suspected from some scattered fossils and dated species trees that the Amazonian diversity arose after the separation from Africa. So we looked at the whole period. I worked mainly on coordinating a survey of DNA-based studies of the relationships between different species of plants and animals. We’ve examined hundreds of scientific publications and have found that very few of the genera are as young as people thought.”GREATEST BIODIVERSITY IN CONNECTION WITH THE ANDES
“We were surprised that there was such a strong link between the formation of the Andes and the diversity in Amazonia,” says Antonelli, who was born in Brazil. “The area was considered a kind of paradise where evolution could take place undisturbed, but this hasn’t been the case at all – a lot has happened in the region.”
The article Amazonia through time: Andean uplift, climate change, landscape evolution, and biodiversity was published in the journal Science on 12 November. The 18-strong team behind the article includes researchers from the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, the UK, Sweden, Brazil, Colombia, Panama, Venezuela and the US.Subscribers can download the article from: www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/short/330/6006/927, or a copy can be requested from Alexandre Antonelli (see below for contact information).
The results were presented at a seminar in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on the same day: www.science.uva.nl/ibed/home.cfmFor further information, please contact: Alexandre Antonelli, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg, and Gothenburg Botanical Garden
Helena Aaberg | idw
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