PhD student Paul Oliver, from the University's School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, has done a detailed genetic study of the Australian gecko genus Diplodactylus and found more than twice the recognised number of gecko species, from 13 species to 29. This study was done in colloboration with the South Australian Museum and Western Australian Museum.
"Many of these species are externally very similar, leading to previous severe underestimation of true species diversity," says Mr Oliver.
"One of the major problems for biodiversity conservation and management is that many species remain undocumented.
"This problem is widely acknowledged to be dire among invertebrates and in developing countries.
"But in this group of vertebrates in a developed nation, which we thought we knew reasonably well, we found more than half the species were unrecognised."
Mr Oliver says this has great significance for conservation. For instance, what was thought to be a single very widespread species of gecko has turned out to be eight or nine separate species with much narrower, more restricted habitats and possibly much more vulnerable to environmental change, he says.
"This completely changes how we look at conservation management of these species," he says.
"Even at just the basic inventory level, this shows that there is a lot of work still to be done. Vertebrate taxonomy clearly remains far from complete with many species still to be discovered. This will require detailed genetic and morphological work, using integrated data from multiple sources. It will require considerable effort and expense but with potentially rich returns."
Paul Oliver | EurekAlert!
Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden
The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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