Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Syracuse University geologists raise questions about controversial theory of species survival

28.04.2003


A recent study by a team of Syracuse University geologists has punched holes in a relatively new theory of species evolution called coordinated stasis; the theories involved are based on findings from fossil-bearing rocks that underlie Central New York. The SU study was published in “Geology,” the premier journal of the Geological Society of America.


First proposed in 1995 by Carl Brett of the University of Cincinnati and Gordon Baird of the State University of New York at Fredonia, coordinated stasis attempts to describe the emergence and disappearance of species across geologic time by suggesting that species living together in the same environment go through long periods of stability—some six million years—and then undergo a rapid, almost complete turnover, during which old species disappear and new ones emerge. Until 1995, most researchers believed that species emerged and disappeared independent of each other throughout time.

“Our study suggests that there may be more variability in species composition through time than predicted by coordinated stasis,” says Linda Ivany, one of the co-authors of the SU study. “It will be the blueprint study against which other researchers will present their data sets to determine whether coordinated stasis is present or not.”

The SU study resulted from research that lead author Nicole Bonuso G’01 conducted for her master’s thesis project in the Department of Earth Sciences and an analysis of some 20 years of fossil data—38,000 specimens—compiled by Bonuso’s faculty advisors and co-authors Cathryn Newton, dean of The College of Arts and Sciences, and Prof. James C. Brower. The data were collected from the Central New York Middle Devonian Hamilton Group, the original test case for coordinated stasis, which is characterized by beautifully preserved and richly diverse fossils that date back more than six million years.



Unlike previous studies, which were based only on the presence or absence of species, Bonuso, currently a doctoral student at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, looked at “proportional abundance data,” meaning that she looked at all of the species that were present and at how abundant they were across a six million year span. “When the first results started coming in, I got very excited,” Bonuso says. “Coordinated stasis did not hold up to our rigorous statistical analysis within the area we tested. That doesn’t mean coordinated stasis never occurs or doesn’t occur at other times. More research is needed.”

Adds Ivany: “We found that while the most abundant species persisted across the span of time as would be predicted by coordinated stasis, the less common species showed more variability. And relatively speaking, the abundant species represented only a few of all the species that were represented in the data set. The findings suggest that coordinated stasis holds for the most abundant species but not for the less common ones, which seem to come and go through time independent of each other.”

Ivany says the point of the study was not so much to prove or disprove coordinated stasis, but rather to compare the results of a high-resolution study using abundance data from the Syracuse area to the original formulation of coordinated stasis as presented by Brett and Baird. In addition, the study explicitly identified a consistent, statistical method to determine whether coordinated stasis is present in the fossil record in a given area. “If coordinated stasis is showing up with a reasonable degree of frequency in the history of life, we then need to look at what it is telling us about the relationships among evolution, ecology and environmental change,” she says.

The study, published as the lead article in the December 2002 issue of “Geology,” was the second published work to come out of Bonuso’s master’s thesis. The first article, published a year ago in “Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology” was based on an analysis of fossils she collected from the uppermost layer of the Hamilton Group, which completed Newton’s and Brower’s 20-year effort to collect species data from the entire geological unit.

One of the goals of the first study, which Bonuso also co-authored with Newton, Brower and Ivany, was to find an appropriate statistical method to test the hypothesis of coordinated stasis using only the data from the upper-most layer. The methodology developed for the first study was expanded to analyze the data previously collected by Newton and Brower, which led to the “Geology” article.

“If it were not for the excellent mentoring from all my advisors throughout the course of the project, this important research would not have been accomplished,” Bonuso says. “This was Cathy Newton’s original idea wrapped with Jim Brower’s methodology, and they let me in on it. I just picked up where they left off.”

Judy Holmes | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.syr.edu/

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Global study of world's beaches shows threat to protected areas
19.07.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht NSF-supported researchers to present new results on hurricanes and other extreme events
19.07.2018 | National Science Foundation

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>