Navigation Links
Glaciations may have larger influence on biodiversity than current climate

An investigation by the Spanish Scientifc Council (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientficas, CSIC) reveals that the large impacts occurred during the last ice age maintain their effects on the current distribution of dung beetles of the scarab family (Scarabaeidae). The presence of these beetles in Europe seems to be more influenced by the climate of that glaciation than by the present one.

The study, published yesterday in the journal Ecology Letters, analyzed the species richness and the structure of their communities throughout the different regions of the European territory from the Ural Mountains to the Iberian Peninsula. The selection of this family of insects was motivated by their high dispersal ability and because their food sources (mainly cattle and sheep dung) are present throughout the continent.

Scarabs are insects of tropical origin that cannot survive below 0 C mean annual temperature, "so it could be expected that their presence gradually decreases as temperatures drop down northwards " says the researcher from the National Museum of Natural Sciences, CSIC, Joaqun Hortal. However, the analysis of the relationship between the magnitude of climate change since the last glaciation and the distribution of scarabs evidences that these insects are not evenly distributed according to this gradient, but rather show two different patterns, one in the north and one in the south. Horton said: "The border defining the two areas is almost similar to the limit of 0 C of mean annual temperature at the time of the last ice age."

Although scarab species richness is actually lower in the north that in the south, two other characteristics can be explained under the hypothesis of the influence of the last ice age.

The first one is based on the species present throughout Europe. Data show that all scarab species living in the northern territory above the border defined by the 0 C limit in the last glaciations are also present in the south, and there is no species exclusive to the northernmost area. According to Hortal, "this is an effect of the difficulty of adapting to cold climate that still exists, as the north does not hold unique species adapted to the cold."

This feature is consistent with the second observation, based on the age of the species present in each area. The study results show that the species that have been able to re-colonize the north are also those that have evolved most recently." Although the adaptation to cold climates started before the last glaciation, these species belong to the newer phylogenetic branches of the Scarabaeidae," says the researcher from CSIC.

Shared influence

The current distribution of scarabs in Europe demonstrates, therefore, that certain influence of the last ice age is still maintained. According to Hortal, "it is not that the current climate does not affect biodiversity, but rather that the impact of past climate change is hiding under the influence of present conditions." The reason why such impact has not been detected so far is that both cause similar effects, i.e., less species in the North of Europe. The CSIC researcher says that: "current biodiversity patterns are therefore a mixture of past climate effects, current conditions and the evolutionary history of the species."

The results of this investigation show that the consequences of major climate changes persist over a very long term. According to Hortal, "this work should be taken into account when analyzing and forecasting the consequences of the global warming currently experienced by the Earth." The researcher concludes: "If the temperature continues to rise, some climates that never occurred during the recent history of our planet may appear, and we do not know which species, both animal and plant, will be able to adapt to them; in fact, it is possible that many of them will not be able to live in these new climates."


Contact: J. Hortal

Related biology news :

1. Microfossils challenge prevailing views of the effects of Snowball Earth glaciations on life
2. Undergraduate institutions should play larger research role
3. Larger female hyenas produce more offspring
4. Kenyas fisheries management promotes species that grow larger and live longer
5. How plants counteract against the shade of larger neighbors
6. Plants play larger role than thought in cleaning up air pollution
7. Climate change causes larger, more plentiful marmots, study shows
8. Apples grow larger when cells dont divide, study shows
9. NOAA-supported scientists predict larger than average Gulf dead zone
10. Reseachers predict larger-than-average Gulf dead zone; impact of oil spill unclear
11. When the dinner bell rings for seafloor scavengers, larger animals get first dibs
Post Your Comments:
(Date:5/9/2016)... , UAE, May 9, 2016 ... it comes to expanding freedom for high net worth ... Even in today,s globally connected world, there is still ... system could ever duplicate sealing your deal with a ... second passports by taking advantage of citizenship via investment ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... India and LONDON ... Infosys Finacle, part of EdgeVerve Systems, a product ... and Onegini today announced a partnership to integrate ... solutions.      (Logo: ... to provide their customers enhanced security to access ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... 2016 Research and Markets has ... Market 2016-2020,"  report to their offering.  , ... ,The global gait biometrics market is expected to ... period 2016-2020. Gait analysis generates multiple ... used to compute factors that are not or ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 Apellis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ... clinical trials of its complement C3 inhibitor, APL-2. ... multiple ascending dose studies designed to assess the ... subcutaneous injection in healthy adult volunteers. ... as a single dose (ranging from 45 to ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 ... Review, 2016;12(1):22-8 Published ... the peer-reviewed journal from touchONCOLOGY, Andrew D ... cost of cancer care is placing an increasing ... of expensive biologic therapies. With the patents on ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... the Pennsylvania Convention Center and will showcase its product’s latest features from June ... be presenting a scientific poster on Disrupting Clinical Trials in The Cloud during ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Velocity Products, a ... designed, tuned and optimized exclusively for Okuma CNC machining centers at The International ... a collaboration among several companies with expertise in toolholding, cutting tools, machining dynamics ...
Breaking Biology Technology: