Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Insect DNA offers tiny clues about animals' changing habitats

09.03.2012
The long-term impact of climate change on natural communities of wild animals could be better understood thanks to a new study.

The research will help predict how migration of animals or changes to their habitats associated with climate change could impact on the evolution of relationships between predators and their prey.

Scientists have shed light on how species and their natural enemies chase each other across continents in a game of cat and mouse lasting for millions of years. They used a technique known as population genetics to reveal historical information hidden in the DNA of small plant-feeding insects and their wasp enemies, and to show how closely predators track their prey over long periods of time.

The study, involving University of Edinburgh scientists, reconstructed the evolutionary arms race between the insects and their wasp enemies. The study looked at 31 species, all of which originated in Iran and Turkey, and spread into Europe over the past four million years. The timing of each species' journey was determined by how well it coped with the many ice ages during this period of the Earth's history.

Researchers found that during these natural cycles of climate change, the plant-feeding insects often outran their predators, moving faster and so escaping attack – often for hundreds of thousands of years. Battles between predators and prey were sometimes interrupted for long periods of time, suspending the arms race between the two groups.

Scientists say relationships between species that evolve closely together can be fragile, leading to biological communities that can be easily disrupted by climate change. However, this research suggests that, at least for these insects, the predator-prey relationships are less fragile and are resistant to disruption. In addition, however, modern environments are much more fragmented than those in the past, making all natural communities more sensitive to change.

The study, carried out in collaboration with the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and the City University New York, was published in Current Biology and supported by the Natural Environment Research Council.

Professor Graham Stone of the University of Edinburgh's School of Biological Sciences, who led the study, said: "Insects account for more than half of all animal species found on Earth. Interactions between insects, and between insects and other kinds of organism, fulfil many important biological roles – including crop pollination and pest control. We hope that our study will improve understanding of how interactions between modern species may respond to climate change."

Catriona Kelly | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ed.ac.uk

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The Secret of the Rock Drawings
24.05.2019 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie

nachricht Chemical juggling with three particles
24.05.2019 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New studies increase confidence in NASA's measure of Earth's temperature

A new assessment of NASA's record of global temperatures revealed that the agency's estimate of Earth's long-term temperature rise in recent decades is accurate to within less than a tenth of a degree Fahrenheit, providing confidence that past and future research is correctly capturing rising surface temperatures.

The most complete assessment ever of statistical uncertainty within the GISS Surface Temperature Analysis (GISTEMP) data product shows that the annual values...

Im Focus: The geometry of an electron determined for the first time

Physicists at the University of Basel are able to show for the first time how a single electron looks in an artificial atom. A newly developed method enables them to show the probability of an electron being present in a space. This allows improved control of electron spins, which could serve as the smallest information unit in a future quantum computer. The experiments were published in Physical Review Letters and the related theory in Physical Review B.

The spin of an electron is a promising candidate for use as the smallest information unit (qubit) of a quantum computer. Controlling and switching this spin or...

Im Focus: Self-repairing batteries

UTokyo engineers develop a way to create high-capacity long-life batteries

Engineers at the University of Tokyo continually pioneer new ways to improve battery technology. Professor Atsuo Yamada and his team recently developed a...

Im Focus: Quantum Cloud Computing with Self-Check

With a quantum coprocessor in the cloud, physicists from Innsbruck, Austria, open the door to the simulation of previously unsolvable problems in chemistry, materials research or high-energy physics. The research groups led by Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller report in the journal Nature how they simulated particle physics phenomena on 20 quantum bits and how the quantum simulator self-verified the result for the first time.

Many scientists are currently working on investigating how quantum advantage can be exploited on hardware already available today. Three years ago, physicists...

Im Focus: Accelerating quantum technologies with materials processing at the atomic scale

'Quantum technologies' utilise the unique phenomena of quantum superposition and entanglement to encode and process information, with potentially profound benefits to a wide range of information technologies from communications to sensing and computing.

However a major challenge in developing these technologies is that the quantum phenomena are very fragile, and only a handful of physical systems have been...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

On Mars, sands shift to a different drum

24.05.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Piedmont Atlanta first in Georgia to offer new minimally invasive treatment for emphysema

24.05.2019 | Medical Engineering

Chemical juggling with three particles

24.05.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>