Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study Suggests Humans Can Speed Evolution

Date:
August 5, 2004
Source:
Georgia Institute Of Technology
Summary:
Can humans speed up the rate of one of nature’s most basic and slowest processes, evolution? A study by J. Todd Streelman, new assistant professor of biology at the Georgia Institute of Technology suggests that humans may have sped up the evolutionary clock for one species of fish.

Human activity may be inducing Cynotilapia afra to evolve at an explosive rate.
Credit: Image courtesy of Georgia Institute Of Technology

Atlanta (August 4,2004) -- It’s no secret that life in the 21st century moves at a rapid pace. Human inventions such as the Internet, mobile phones and fiber optic cable have increased the speed of communication, making it possible for someone to be virtually in two places at once. But can humans speed up the rate of one of nature’s most basic and slowest processes, evolution? A study by J. Todd Streelman, new assistant professor of biology at the Georgia Institute of Technology suggests that humans may have sped up the evolutionary clock for one species of fish.

Cichlid fish are well known to biologists for their rapid rate of evolution. While it takes many animals thousands of years to form new species, the cichlids of Africa’s Lake Malawi are estimated to have formed 1,000 new species in only 500,000 years, lightning speed in evolutionary terms. In the 1960s a fish exporter may have unwittingly set the stage for an evolutionary explosion when he introduced individuals of the species Cynotilapia afra to Mitande Point on the lake’s Thumbi West Island. As of 1983, the species hadn’t budged from Mitande Point. But when Streelman, then at the University of New Hampshire, Durham, and colleagues went to the island in 2001, they found the fish had evolved into two genetically distinct varieties in less than 20 years. The study appears in the August 13 edition of Molecular Ecology.

“This is a great example of human-induced evolution in action,” said Streelman. “It adds to a growing list of cases, including introduced salmon, flies and plants, where human disturbance has set the stage for contemporary evolution on scales we’ve not witnessed before.”

The fish have evolved into two genetically distinct and differently colored populations, one on the north side of the island, the other on the south, said Streelman. Cichlid color patterns are important in mate selection, so these distinct markings may promote the evolution of new species.

Whether or not that happens and how long it will take is a question to which Streelman is eager to find the answer. “It could be that we'll have new species in another 20 years, although this depends on a number of factors. Either way, we have a wonderful opportunity to follow the evolutionary trajectory of these populations over time. We plan to return to the island next July to do further study,” he said. “Thumbi West will be a valuable place to work for years to come.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Georgia Institute Of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Georgia Institute Of Technology. "Study Suggests Humans Can Speed Evolution." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 August 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/08/040805090553.htm>.
Georgia Institute Of Technology. (2004, August 5). Study Suggests Humans Can Speed Evolution. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/08/040805090553.htm
Georgia Institute Of Technology. "Study Suggests Humans Can Speed Evolution." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/08/040805090553.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) Police in Gary, Indiana are using cadaver dogs to search for more victims after a suspected serial killer confessed to killing at least seven women. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) Visitors to Belgrade zoo meet a pair of three-week-old lion cubs for the first time. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
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