Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UBC prof’s research challenges prevailing theory of how new species evolve

21.01.2005


A research team lead by University of British Columbia zoology assistant professor Darren Irwin is the first in the world to demonstrate a genetic gradient--or path of gradually changing genetic traits--between two distinct species that have been isolated by distance. The research challenges the prevailing theory among evolutionary biologists that species evolve only when separated by a geographical barrier.



The findings, published in the January 21 issue of Science magazine, have broad implications for preserving biological diversity and endangered species, says Irwin. "The process for how one species evolves into two is a subject of intense research interest and debate and is fundamental to understanding diversity of life," says Irwin, who spent ten months between 1994 and 2002 studying greenish warblers in Asia. "Until now, no one has been able to show continuous gene flow between reproductively isolated species via geographically connected populations – a process of evolution called ’speciation by distance.’"

Part of the difficulty in proving the theory has been that few examples of such species are known today. The greenish warbler, living throughout Asia, and the Ensatina salamander found in mountains in North America’s west coast, are the only known clear examples of species that may have evolved across distance.


Two distinct forms of greenish warblers co-exist in central Siberia but do not interbreed there, making them distinct species in that region. Irwin, along with co-authors Staffan Bensch (Lund University, Sweden), Jessica Irwin (UBC) and Trevor Price (University of Chicago) used a new genetic analysis technique called amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) to trace a genetic gradient from one Siberian species to the other via a long chain of geographically connected populations to the south, surrounding the Tibetan Plateau.

Irwin believes the findings have broad implications for current approaches to conservation. "Much of endangered species law relies on identifying distinct groups that are reproductively isolated from other groups, and only those distinct groups are targeted for protection," says Irwin. "Our findings show that in some cases there are not well-defined groups, but rather a gradient of forms. In such cases the whole gradient of forms needs to be conserved."

"With massive habitat destruction being caused by humans, these gradients are being destroyed, as are the stories they tell about evolution and biodiversity," says Irwin. "This is happening in much of Asia, where there is a tremendous loss of habitat from humans."

"Ten years from now, I’m not sure I would be able to find this same evidence," says Irwin.

Randy Schmidt | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ubc.ca

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Let the good tubes roll

19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation

19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>