Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Genetic study clarifies evolutionary origin of elusive montane red fox

23.05.2011
North American red foxes originated from two separate genetic lineages that were isolated from each other by glaciers some half a million years ago, according to a U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station study.

The research—featured in the April/May 2011 issue of Science Findings, a monthly publication of the station—can assist efforts aimed at conserving potentially imperiled montane populations of the species.

"When most people think of the red fox, they envision the ones that thrive in low-elevation, human-dominated landscapes," said Keith Aubry, a research wildlife biologist at the station who led the study. "But there are other extremely elusive and rarely seen populations that live only in isolated alpine and subalpine areas in the mountains of the Western United States."

The latter group—the montane red foxes—may be imperiled by climate change and other contemporary pressures and were the focus of Aubry's doctoral work in the early 1980s. Contrary to prevailing theory at the time, Aubry hypothesized that native North American red foxes were descended from two distinct lineages, not one, that were isolated from each other in both northern and southern ice-free areas during the most recent Ice Age. Such an evolutionary history would help explain the unique ecological adaptations of the montane foxes, and why native red foxes in southern British Columbia are so much bigger than the montane foxes that occupy nearly adjacent areas in Washington's Cascade Range.

"If all of North America's foxes originated from a single lineage that had expanded its distribution in a wave across the continent, you'd expect to see a more or less continuous gradient in size," Aubry said. "But there was an abrupt discontinuity in size in that area, suggesting that the montane red foxes had evolved in isolation from the northern populations," Aubry said.

Only recently were Aubry and his colleagues able to test this hypothesis through genetic analyses of 285 museum specimens and a close examination of fossil, archeological, historical, and ecological records. They found that North American red foxes did, indeed, stem from two distinct lineages that diverged from each other while they were isolated in both the southern and northern parts of the continent during the last Ice Age. Moreover, Aubry suspects that montane foxes' smaller size and high-elevation habitat preference is indicative of their being descendants of ancient foxes that had inhabited the southern part of the continent.

With knowledge of the evolutionary history and genetics of the North American red fox, managers can distinguish native from nonnative populations and can clarify genetic relationships among subspecies—knowledge that, in turn, can be used to target conservation efforts to the appropriate gene pool.

To read the April/May 2011 issue of Science Findings online, visit http://www.treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/37702.

The PNW Research Station is headquartered in Portland, Oregon. It has 11 laboratories and centers located in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington and about 425 employees.

Yasmeen Sands | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.fs.fed.us

Further reports about: Bronze Age Genetic clues crystalline evolutionary history

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>