Navigation Links
Life on the edge: To disperse, or become extinct?
Date:6/23/2008

(Kingston, ON) The hardiest plants and those most likely to survive the climatic shifts brought about by global warming are now easier to identify, thanks to new research findings by a team from Queen's University.

"Predicting the speed at which plants are likely to migrate during climate warming could be key to ensuring their survival," says Queen's Biology professor Christopher Eckert.

Populations of plants growing at the outer edges of their natural "geographic range" exist in a precarious balance between extinction of existing populations and founding of new populations, via seed dispersal into vacant but suitable habitat. "Policy makers concerned with preserving plant species should focus not only on conserving land where species are now, but also where they may be found in the future," says Dr. Eckert.

This observation stems from his recent study published in the scientific journal New Phytologist which shows for the first time that natural selection gives a boost to the seed dispersal traits of those plants growing at the edges of their natural ranges.

If species are going to persist in the face of a changing climate, they must move to stay within the climate zone to which they are best adapted, Dr. Eckert explains. Their ability to relocate with shifts in regional climate brought about by global warming will largely depend on their capacity for dispersal, especially in populations near the limit of their geographical distributions.

With undergraduate student Emily Darling and PhD student Karen Samis, Dr. Eckert studied the geographic distribution and dispersal biology of Abronia umbellata (pink sand verbena), a flowering plant endemic to the Pacific coastal dunes of North America. By surveying plants throughout the 2000-km geographic range, and measuring seed dispersal with a wind tunnel in the Faculty of Applied Sciences, they showed that plants at range limits produce seeds with larger wings, thus increasing dispersal in the winds that commonly buffet costal habitats.

"The way evolution works at range limits has been brought into sharper focus by the debate over how species will respond via migration to climate warming," says Dr. Eckert. "It's clear that these marginal populations are adapted in ways that more central populations aren't."

According to Cornell University biologist Monica Geber, in an editorial focused on this new research, the Queen's team has "flipped the question of dispersal limitation on its head to ask whether range-edge populations have diverged, through adaptive evolution, from central populations to increase their colonizing ability."

There has been considerable debate as to whether these northern peripheral populations are worth conserving, Dr. Eckert notes. If they possess adaptations that will enhance their ability to expand their range during climate change, then the answer is yes, he says. His team has recently shown that in Vaccinium stamineum (deerberry) a threatened plant related to the blueberry the capacity for seed dispersal appears to increase sharply towards the range limit in Canada.

In addition, some threatened Canadian populations produce high-quality seeds that exhibit rapid germination and particularly high seedling growth.

"These observations are consistent with our work on coastal dune plants, suggesting that our results may have general relevance and significance for species conservation in changing global environments" says Dr. Eckert.


'/>"/>

Contact: Nancy Dorrance
nancy.dorrance@queensu.ca
613-533-2869
Queen's University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. UNH becomes first university in nation to use landfill gas as primary energy source
2. Scientists find how amber becomes death trap for watery creatures
3. Mandate for public access to NIH-funded research poised to become law
4. Could hairy roots become biofactories?
5. Computers explain why pears may become brown during commercial storage
6. First rule of evolution suggests that life is destined to become more complex
7. Making sure the wonder materials dont become the wonder pollutant
8. Computation to unravel how genes are regulated and shed light on how cells become different
9. A protein sequence associated with Huntington’s disease may become life-saving vaccine component
10. Refusal of suicide order: Why tumor cells become resistant
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Life on the edge: To disperse, or become extinct?
(Date:5/16/2017)... , May 16, 2017   Bridge ... health organizations, and MD EMR Systems , ... development partner for GE, have established a partnership ... Portal product and the GE Centricity™ products, including ... EMR. These new integrations will ...
(Date:4/18/2017)... Inc., a global expert in SoC-based imaging and computing solutions, has ... features the company,s hybrid codec technology. A demonstration utilizing TeraFaces ® ... be showcased during the upcoming Medtec Japan at Tokyo Big Sight ... Las Vegas Convention Center April 24-27. ... Click here for an image of the ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... 11, 2017 Crossmatch®, a globally-recognized leader ... today announced that it has been awarded a ... Activity (IARPA) to develop next-generation Presentation Attack Detection ... "Innovation has been a driving force within Crossmatch ... allow us to innovate and develop new technologies ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:7/18/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Allotrope Foundation won the 2017 in Knowledge ... Allotrope Framework for commercial use. , The Bio-IT World Best Practices Awards ... critical role of information technology in modern biomedical research, but also to highlight ...
(Date:7/17/2017)... ... July 17, 2017 , ... OHAUS ... announced the launch of its new line of Heavy-Duty Orbital Shakers today. , ... analog and digital) for laboratory applications. These shakers are ideal for load ...
(Date:7/16/2017)... ... July 16, 2017 , ... ... instruments announced the launch of its new line of Rocking and Waving Shakers ... waving shaker models (both analog and digital) for laboratory applications in a variety ...
(Date:7/14/2017)... Maine (PRWEB) , ... July 13, 2017 , ... ... D-Dimer linearity and calibration verification test kit has received US FDA 510 (k) ... in a human plasma matrix, evaluates D-Dimer. Each VALIDATE® D-Dimer kit, prepared using ...
Breaking Biology Technology: