Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Disappearing glaciers enhanced biodiversity

05.10.2010
Fossils reveal history of marine diversity in Chile

Biodiversity decreases towards the poles almost everywhere in the world, except along the South American Pacific coast. Investigating fossil clams and snails Steffen Kiel and Sven Nielsen at the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (CAU) could show that this unusual pattern originated at the end of the last ice age, 20.000 to 100.000 years ago.

The retreating glaciers created a mosaic landscape of countless islands, bays and fiords in which new species developed rapidly – geologically speaking. The ancestors of the species survived the ice age in the warmer Chilean north.

The exceptional biodiversity of the southern Chilean coast is known for a long time. More than 500 species of clams and snails are known from this area, twice as many as at comparable latitudes in the northern hemisphere. The reasons for this diversity were so far speculative, report Kiel and Nielsen in the current issue of the scientific journal Geology: "Opinions include that southern Chile is a museum of diversity where species survived for millions of years in addition to new arrivals; or that Antarctic species colonized this area from the south." Their analysis of around 35.000 fossil clams and snails, belonging to about 400 species, allowed the paleontologists to draw some more precise conclusions: "Our fossils reject both hypotheses. Biodiversity in this area always decreased toward the south in the geologic past, and we didn't find any intruders from Antarctica", explains Steffen Kiel. In addition, the researchers found that the vast majority of species and genera that lived in that area only 16 million years ago had become extinct. "This area is certainly not a museum of biodiversity", adds Kiel.

... more about:
»Biodiversity »Chile »Fossil »ice age

The most species-rich groups of animals in the southern Chilean fiordlands are those inhabiting rocky shores. This is exactly the habitat that was created when the glacier retreated from their marine termini. "Molecular biologic investigations on phylogenetic relationships of these species show that they are geologically very young and descended from North Chilean ancestors. This agrees well with our results", says Sven Nielsen, who has been working on Chilean fossils for many years. "Charles Darwin, who was the first to discover fossils in this area during his voyage on the 'Beagle', would have been fascinated."

This research shows that for species conservation not only single, exceptional habitats need to be protected, but that a diversity of habitats needs be conserved to maintain a healthy biodiversity.

Link: http://geology.gsapubs.org/content/38/10/955.abstract

Images:

http://www.uni-kiel.de/download/pm/2010/2010-152-1.jpg
Caption: Sven Nielsen takes an inventory of early biodiversity.
Photo/Copyright: Matthias Rosenau/GFZ Potsdam
http://www.uni-kiel.de/download/pm/2010/2010-152-2.jpg
Caption: Fossil Chilean clams and snails.
Photo/Copyright: Sven Nielsen
http://www.uni-kiel.de/download/pm/2010/2010-152-3.jpg
Caption: The diversity of clams and snails had been higher in earlier times.
Photo/Copyright: Sven Nielsen
http://www.uni-kiel.de/download/pm/2010/2010-152-4.jpg
Caption: Fossils from these bluffs at Cucao in southern Chile revealed insights into the exceptional history of biodiversity in this area.

Photo/Copyright: Sven Nielsen

Contact:
Dr. Sven Nielsen
E-Mail: nielsen@gpi.uni-kiel.de
Tel. +49(0)431/880-2862
Dr. Steffen Kiel
E-Mail: steffen.kiel@gmx.de
Tel: +49(0)551/3910954

Dr. Sven Nielsen | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uni-kiel.de

Further reports about: Biodiversity Chile Fossil ice age

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht NASA balloon mission captures electric blue clouds
24.09.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht 558 million-year-old fat reveals earliest known animal
21.09.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Scientists present new observations to understand the phase transition in quantum chromodynamics

The building blocks of matter in our universe were formed in the first 10 microseconds of its existence, according to the currently accepted scientific picture. After the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago, matter consisted mainly of quarks and gluons, two types of elementary particles whose interactions are governed by quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of strong interaction. In the early universe, these particles moved (nearly) freely in a quark-gluon plasma.

This is a joint press release of University Muenster and Heidelberg as well as the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt.

Then, in a phase transition, they combined and formed hadrons, among them the building blocks of atomic nuclei, protons and neutrons. In the current issue of...

Im Focus: Patented nanostructure for solar cells: Rough optics, smooth surface

Thin-film solar cells made of crystalline silicon are inexpensive and achieve efficiencies of a good 14 percent. However, they could do even better if their shiny surfaces reflected less light. A team led by Prof. Christiane Becker from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has now patented a sophisticated new solution to this problem.

"It is not enough simply to bring more light into the cell," says Christiane Becker. Such surface structures can even ultimately reduce the efficiency by...

Im Focus: New soft coral species discovered in Panama

A study in the journal Bulletin of Marine Science describes a new, blood-red species of octocoral found in Panama. The species in the genus Thesea was discovered in the threatened low-light reef environment on Hannibal Bank, 60 kilometers off mainland Pacific Panama, by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (STRI) and the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) at the University of Costa Rica.

Scientists established the new species, Thesea dalioi, by comparing its physical traits, such as branch thickness and the bright red colony color, with the...

Im Focus: New devices based on rust could reduce excess heat in computers

Physicists explore long-distance information transmission in antiferromagnetic iron oxide

Scientists have succeeded in observing the first long-distance transfer of information in a magnetic group of materials known as antiferromagnets.

Im Focus: Finding Nemo's genes

An international team of researchers has mapped Nemo's genome

An international team of researchers has mapped Nemo's genome, providing the research community with an invaluable resource to decode the response of fish to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

"Boston calling": TU Berlin and the Weizenbaum Institute organize a conference in USA

21.09.2018 | Event News

One of the world’s most prominent strategic forums for global health held in Berlin in October 2018

03.09.2018 | Event News

4th Intelligent Materials - European Symposium on Intelligent Materials

27.08.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Matter falling into a black hole at 30 percent of the speed of light

24.09.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA balloon mission captures electric blue clouds

24.09.2018 | Earth Sciences

New way to target advanced breast cancers

24.09.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>