Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

There is strength in diversity!

17.09.2015

Altered or new environmental conditions, such as those brought about by shifts in human land use and climate change, impose challenges on living organisms. This can drive species to extinction if they fail to adapt or adjust their geographic distribution. Individual differences play a key role here, and it seems that less is not always more.

A new study by researchers from Linnaeus University published in Ecography demonstrates that a higher degree of among individual variation is beneficial to populations and species. These results will allow for more efficient protection and restoration of biodiversity, the authors say.


Among individual variation exemplified by alternative colour morphs of the pygmy grasshopper Tetrix subulata

(photograph by Anders Forsman)

It has been suggested that higher levels of phenotypic and genetic variation among individuals should promote the ecological and evolutionary success of populations and species in the face of environmental change, but this proposition has not previously been systematically evaluated.

Researchers from Linnaeus University in Sweden reviewed previous studies of plants, animals and bacteria to determine whether the predictions from theory are supported overall by results from experimental and phylogeny-based comparative investigations.

Lead author Professor Anders Forsman elaborates: “our review provides strong evidence that more variable populations are less vulnerable to environmental changes, show decreased fluctuations in population size, have superior establishment success, larger distribution ranges, and are less extinction prone, compared with less variable populations or species”.

A key finding is that variation is more beneficial if conditions are harsh. Study co-author Dr Lena Wennersten explains: “some of the experimental studies included in our review comprise two or more environmental treatments. These experiments indicate that the benefits of diversity are generally expressed more strongly under stressful than under benign conditions”.

The review also uncovered that the relationship linking benefits to diversity is more often linear than curvilinear. But there were exceptions to this pattern. Some studies point to the existence of an optimal level of diversity, and others suggest that the benefits of diversity follow the law of diminishing returns.

These consequences of variation are relevant for conservation work aimed at protection and restoration of biodiversity. For instance, the shape of the relationship that links diversity to population fitness informs how to best allocate conservation resources between competing needs, according to the authors.

The findings in the review align well with the notion that there is strength in diversity. However, the authors also identify important knowledge gaps and issues in need of future investigation. Anders Forsman concludes: “there is still ample opportunity for progress and new discoveries. We hope that our study will spur further interest in this rapidly growing and important area of research”.

Article:
Forsman, A. and Wennersten, L. 2015. Inter-individual variation promotes ecological success of populations and species: evidence from experimental and comparative studies. Ecography, DOI: 10.1111/ecog.01357

Contact information:
Anders Forsman, professor, e-mail: Anders.Forsman@LNU.se; phone: +46-(0)480-44 61 73; cellular phone: +46-(0)706-27 27 38

Lena Wennersten, PhD, e-mail: Lena.Wennersten@LNU.se; phone: +46-(0)480-44 62 27; cellular phone: +46-(0)733-26 18 51

Pressofficer Christina Dahlgren, +46-(0)470-70 85 51; cellular phone: +46-(0)70-572 26 56

Anders Forsman and Lena Wennersten are members of the Linnaeus University Centre for Ecology and Evolution in Microbial model Systems, EEMiS. http://lnu.se/lnuc/eemis

Anders Forsman’s personal webpage: http://lnu.se/personal/anders.forsman

Weitere Informationen:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ecog.01357/abstract Link to the article

Christina Dahlgren | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Fish recognize their prey by electric colors
13.11.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht The dawn of a new era for genebanks - molecular characterisation of an entire genebank collection
13.11.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

The dawn of a new era for genebanks - molecular characterisation of an entire genebank collection

13.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Fish recognize their prey by electric colors

13.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Ultrasound Connects

13.11.2018 | Awards Funding

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>