Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

URI Scientists' Discovery Sheds New Light On Species Diversity In The Ocean

Date:
August 20, 1999
Source:
University Of Rhode Island
Summary:
Several centuries ago, a simple mathematical calculation proved the world was round and changed how people thought about their environment. In a similar fashion, two University of Rhode Island scientists and their Brown University colleague have made a simple discovery that may force biologists, ecologists, and evolutionists to question some long-standing beliefs about diversity in the ocean.

Research published in this week's Nature uses satellite observations to predict count of zooplankton species with 90 percent accuracy

Related Articles


NARRAGANSETT, R.I. -- August 17, 1999 -- Several centuries ago, a simple mathematical calculation proved the world was round and changed how people thought about their environment. In a similar fashion, two University of Rhode Island scientists and their Brown University colleague have made a simple discovery that may force biologists, ecologists, and evolutionists to question some long-standing beliefs about diversity in the ocean.

In an article to be published in the August 19 issue of Nature, URI Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) paleoceanographers Scott Rutherford and Steven D'Hondt with Brown University paleoceanographer Warren Prell show that the diversity of planktonic foraminifera, one-celled animals that float in the ocean, is greatest in the middle latitudes of the world's oceans. Comparison of their results to other studies suggests that this is true of zooplankton in general; all of the microscopic animals that float in the ocean appear to be most diverse at middle latitudes. This finding runs counter to the traditional model that biodiversity peaks at the equator and declines towards the polar regions of the Earth.

Their analysis of Atlantic Ocean data shows that scientists can use sea-surface temperature to estimate the number of planktonic foraminiferal species at each spot in the ocean with 90 percent accuracy. The temperatures are derived from satellite observations that measure the ocean's "skin" temperature-the top layer of water to adepth of about one centimeter. Their discovery goes one step farther by showing that oceanic temperature at a depth of 50, 100, or 200 meters predicts diversity nearly as well, suggesting that temperatures at the sea surface are highly correlated to the structure of the water column beneath the surface.

The scientists explain their results by suggesting that the number of zooplankton species at each site is primarily controlled by the physical structure of their environment. As D'Hondt explains, "All zooplankton need food and many zooplankton reproduce sexually. For these reasons, they need to live in places where they can count on encountering both prey and other members of their own species. If two different populations of a single species consistently reproduce in separate places or at different times, they may eventually evolve into two different species. Conversely, if a species is composed of a single large population that generally meets and reproduces at the same time and place, its members have little opportunity to separate into different species."

At the poles, the water temperature is approximately constant with depth and zooplankton may be forced to stay near the surface in order to consistently meet each other and find abundant prey. At the equator, there is a shallow surface layer of nearly uniform temperature and a deeper region of cooler uniform temperature with a sharp transition between; this structure may support more species than the structure at the poles because it provides a greater diversity of zones where prey may aggregate and reproductive partners can form separate populations. In middle latitudes, the temperature of the water changes more gradually with water depth, providing an even greater diversity of vertically segregated zones where different species can exist.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Rhode Island. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Rhode Island. "URI Scientists' Discovery Sheds New Light On Species Diversity In The Ocean." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 August 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/08/990820022908.htm>.
University Of Rhode Island. (1999, August 20). URI Scientists' Discovery Sheds New Light On Species Diversity In The Ocean. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/08/990820022908.htm
University Of Rhode Island. "URI Scientists' Discovery Sheds New Light On Species Diversity In The Ocean." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/08/990820022908.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) — A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins