Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researcher discovers hybrid speciation in the Sierra Nevada

29.01.2007
University of Nevada, Reno researcher Matthew Forister is among a group of scientists that have documented an unusual type of speciation in the Sierra Nevada, including a hybrid species of butterfly that can trace its lineage as far back as almost a half a million years ago.

In a recently published article in the leading research journal Science, the discovery is one of the most convincing cases of this type of species formation that has ever been demonstrated in animals.

“Our genetic work is what really clinched the hybrid angle,” said Forister, a research professor in the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources’ Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science. Forister explained that it has been known that two types of butterflies -- Lycaeides melissa and Lycaeides idas -- live in the Sierra, with the L. melissa living on the eastern slope of the Sierra and the L. idas living to the west. Forister’s team found that a third species of Lycaeides has evolved in the upper alpine reaches of the Sierra.

The team used molecular genetics to show that the “new” species carries genes from both parental species. The scientists estimate that about 440,000 years ago the L. melissa and L. idas came into contact in the Sierra. Their offspring, cut off from the rest of their clan, eventually evolved into a unique and genetically distinct species.

... more about:
»Forister »HYBRID »Sierra

“It’s interesting, because the alpine butterflies have wings that look like the butterflies from the eastern Sierra,” Forister said. “But their mitochondrial DNA more clearly resembles those from the western Sierra. When you think about all of the changes the world has undergone, and how parental species have moved in response to climate change and have possibly come into contact many times, you realize that the world is a messier place than you first thought.

“Ultimately, what we’ve studied highlights the importance of natural selection, and the more general idea that we are still learning many of the ways in which species are formed.”

Forister’s collaborators included UC-Davis professor Arthur Shapiro, Zachariah Gompert and Chris Nice of Texas State University and James Fordyce at the University of Tennessee. Shapiro is one of the world’s foremost butterfly experts. Forister did his graduate work at UC-Davis under Shapiro. His graduate work was funded by the National Science Foundation.

The team’s findings provide an important piece to the puzzle in the understanding of how animal species emerge. It is widely believed that plant species can be commonly created through such species crossing; hybrid species formation among animals, however, has been much less thoroughly studied.

Forister and his colleagues worked on some of the more barren reaches of the upper alpine in the vicinity of Lake Tahoe, plucking samples of blue (male) and brown (female) butterflies from the rocks and sparse alpine vegetation there. The samples were studied by the research members who worked to analyze the species’ DNA in a laboratory in Texas.

“We worked within a very narrow window because these butterflies are at their peak flight for only a few weeks in the middle of the summer,” Forister said.

The field work proved to be just as important as the laboratory work, as the team made important findings regarding the new species’ adaptive habits. Though the climate is extreme at high elevations and the flying season lasts only a matter of a few weeks, the researchers noted that the still-unnamed species seeks out a certain plant at the higher elevations. They use this host plant to lay their eggs. Their “parent’ butterflies of the eastern and western Sierra do not show the same affinity for this particular host plant, the balloonpod milkvetch. This was another critical illustration that a habitat and species shift had occurred.

By understanding how the “new” species lives, the research team is also adding to the scientific-based knowledge that could some day help preserve the butterfly’s habitat, Forister added. “Now that we’ve finished this part of the study, we’d like to turn our attention to some of the other ranges of the West, and investigate similar areas of overlap,” Forister said.

John Trent | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.unr.edu

Further reports about: Forister HYBRID Sierra

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Bolstering fat cells offers potential new leukemia treatment
17.10.2017 | McMaster University

nachricht Ocean atmosphere rife with microbes
17.10.2017 | King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ocean atmosphere rife with microbes

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Neutrons observe vitamin B6-dependent enzyme activity useful for drug development

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA finds newly formed tropical storm lan over open waters

17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>