Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists discover that Hawai'i is not an evolutionary dead end for marine life

04.07.2011
The question of why there are so many species in the sea and how new species form remains a central question in marine biology. Below the waterline, about 30% of Hawai'i's marine species are endemic – being found only in Hawai'i and nowhere else on Earth – one of the highest rates of endemism found worldwide.

But where did this diversity of species come from? Hawai'i is famous for its adaptive radiations (the formation of many species with specialized lifestyles from a single colonist) above the water line. Still, spectacular examples of adaptive radiations such as Hawaiian honeycreeper birds and fruit flies are not found in Hawaiian waters.

Marine species were thought to colonize Hawaii and eventually diverge into an isolated native species, but were doomed to an evolutionary "dead end" with no further specialization and speciation.

Dr. Chris Bird and fellow researchers at the Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB), however, have shown that Hawai'i hosts three limpets (cone shaped marine snails, locally known as 'opihi) that defy classification as dead-enders. The standard explanation for three species of 'opihi is that Hawai'i was independently colonized three times; however, using DNA, fossil, and geologic evidence, Dr. Bird has shown that Hawai'i was successfully colonized only once by Japanese limpets, approximately 5 million years ago. The 'opihi then speciated within the Hawaiian Archipelago along an ecological gradient, as they invaded deeper habitats, forming the three species that we observe today (in order from shallow to deep) 'opihi makai'auli, 'opihi 'alinalina, 'opihi ko'ele. Bird proposes that differences in the timing of sperm and egg production and the ability to survive at particular shore levels led to the 'opihi radiation.

While 'opihi may look similar to the untrained eye, Bird demonstrates that each species possesses novel evolutionary adaptations that confer an advantage at a particular shore level, a hallmark signature of natural selection and adaptive radiation. Bird states "the research on 'opihi give us better insight to the processes that produce biodiversity, especially in the ocean where the speciation process is not well understood". Prior to this report, no marine radiations had been found in Hawai'i. Bird continues, "these studies reset the bar for what is considered possible in marine speciation." Is Hawai'i an evolutionary dead end for marine speciation? The humble 'opihi say "no".

Collection and monitoring of the 'opihi is the result of a unique partnership bringing together scientists, traditional cultural practitioners, resource managers from the State of Hawai'i, The Nature Conservancy and community volunteers. Working with the community allows scientists to incorporate crucial information passed down through generations of Native Hawaiians. Monitoring sites surveyed to date include the Big Island of Hawai'i, the Maui Nui complex, O'ahu, and several remote sites in the Papahânaumokuâkea Marine National Monument, the largest marine protected area under U.S. jurisdiction.

Carlie Wiener | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.hawaii.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The body's street sweepers
18.12.2017 | Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

nachricht Life on the edge prepares plants for climate change
18.12.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Error-free into the Quantum Computer Age

A study carried out by an international team of researchers and published in the journal Physical Review X shows that ion-trap technologies available today are suitable for building large-scale quantum computers. The scientists introduce trapped-ion quantum error correction protocols that detect and correct processing errors.

In order to reach their full potential, today’s quantum computer prototypes have to meet specific criteria: First, they have to be made bigger, which means...

Im Focus: Search for planets with Carmenes successful

German and Spanish researchers plan, build and use modern spectrograph

Since 2016, German and Spanish researchers, among them scientists from the University of Göttingen, have been hunting for exoplanets with the “Carmenes”...

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

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

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

The body's street sweepers

18.12.2017 | Life Sciences

Fast flowing heat in layered material heterostructures

18.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

Life on the edge prepares plants for climate change

18.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>