Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Don’t stand so close to me: a new view on how species coexist

01.10.2004


Plants and animals living together in communities don’t rub shoulders too closely because evolution has caused them to compromise on key life measures, say ecologists at Imperial College London and Royal Holloway, University of London, writing in the journal Science today (1 October).



The researchers suggest a new basis for explaining how communities of species assemble: they have to give up being good at everything and ’trade off’ their life histories. ’Life histories’ is ecological jargon for the important measures, shaped by evolution, such as how often you can reproduce; how many children you will have; how long you can live for; and crucially, how good you are at getting food on which to survive. "You can’t be good at doing everything," says Dr Mike Bonsall, a Royal Society University Research Fellow working at Imperial College London, and first author of the paper. "Most people do one thing really well, another thing fairly well and then aren’t very good at anything else. So it is with any other species. Now we know that they coexist precisely because they each have different life histories."

The London researchers assembled a simple artificial community of parasitoid wasps within a computer model, and then watched what happened over very long periods of time - up to 100,000 generations. Parasitoid wasps, insects that kill other insects by laying eggs in them, account for a fifth of all known multi-celled species. Their 200,000 species places them approximately next to land plants in terms of diversity.


To their surprise they found that over long periods of time, ’gaps’, or differences in their life histories, opened up between the evolving parasitoid wasp species, which are not filled by others. They suggest this may explain the great diversity of wasps seen in nature. "There is a fixed amount of difference necessary," says Dr Bonsall. "This allows evolution to affect patterns of diversity such as how many similar species we see."

Dr Vincent Jansen, author of the paper from Royal Holloway, University of London, added: "The bottom line of this work is that patterns of diversity are shaped both by ecology and by evolution."

One way of capturing the essence of the new work, he added, is expressed in the concept of the ’Darwinian demon’ - a hypothetical species that develops rapidly, reproduces continuously and does not age. Trade offs in life histories are thought to prevent Darwinian demons from evolving. Rather, similar species are allowed to coexist.

Tom Miller | alfa
Further information:
http://www.imperial.ac.uk

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Could this protein protect people against coronary artery disease?
17.11.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

nachricht Microbial resident enables beetles to feed on a leafy diet
17.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>