Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

UBC Prof's Research Challenges Prevailing Theory Of How New Species Evolve

Date:
January 25, 2005
Source:
University Of British Columbia
Summary:
A research team lead by University of British Columbia zoology assistant professor Darren Irwin is the first in the world to demonstrate a genetic gradient--or path of gradually changing genetic traits--between two distinct species that have been isolated by distance.

A research team lead by University of British Columbia zoology assistant professor Darren Irwin is the first in the world to demonstrate a genetic gradient--or path of gradually changing genetic traits--between two distinct species that have been isolated by distance. The research challenges the prevailing theory among evolutionary biologists that species evolve only when separated by a geographical barrier.

The findings, published in the January 21 issue of Science magazine, have broad implications for preserving biological diversity and endangered species, says Irwin.

"The process for how one species evolves into two is a subject of intense research interest and debate and is fundamental to understanding diversity of life," says Irwin, who spent ten months between 1994 and 2002 studying greenish warblers in Asia. "Until now, no one has been able to show continuous gene flow between reproductively isolated species via geographically connected populations – a process of evolution called 'speciation by distance.'"

Part of the difficulty in proving the theory has been that few examples of such species are known today. The greenish warbler, living throughout Asia, and the Ensatina salamander found in mountains in North America's west coast, are the only known clear examples of species that may have evolved across distance.

Two distinct forms of greenish warblers co-exist in central Siberia but do not interbreed there, making them distinct species in that region. Irwin, along with co-authors Staffan Bensch (Lund University, Sweden), Jessica Irwin (UBC) and Trevor Price (University of Chicago) used a new genetic analysis technique called amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) to trace a genetic gradient from one Siberian species to the other via a long chain of geographically connected populations to the south, surrounding the Tibetan Plateau.

Irwin believes the findings have broad implications for current approaches to conservation.

"Much of endangered species law relies on identifying distinct groups that are reproductively isolated from other groups, and only those distinct groups are targeted for protection," says Irwin. "Our findings show that in some cases there are not well-defined groups, but rather a gradient of forms. In such cases the whole gradient of forms needs to be conserved."

"With massive habitat destruction being caused by humans, these gradients are being destroyed, as are the stories they tell about evolution and biodiversity," says Irwin. "This is happening in much of Asia, where there is a tremendous loss of habitat from humans."

"Ten years from now, I'm not sure I would be able to find this same evidence," says Irwin.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University Of British Columbia. "UBC Prof's Research Challenges Prevailing Theory Of How New Species Evolve." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 January 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050123210638.htm>.
University Of British Columbia. (2005, January 25). UBC Prof's Research Challenges Prevailing Theory Of How New Species Evolve. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050123210638.htm
University Of British Columbia. "UBC Prof's Research Challenges Prevailing Theory Of How New Species Evolve." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050123210638.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Working Mother DIY: Pumpkin Pom-Pom

Working Mother DIY: Pumpkin Pom-Pom

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) How to make a pumpkin pom-pom. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goofy Dinosaur Blends Barney and Jar Jar Binks

Goofy Dinosaur Blends Barney and Jar Jar Binks

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) A collection of dinosaur bones reveal a creature that is far more weird and goofy-looking than scientists originally thought when they found just the arm bones nearly 50 years ago, according to a new report in the journal Nature. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) The pair of rare white northern rhinos bring hope for their species as only six remain in the world. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Bear Cub Strolls Through Oregon Drug Store

Raw: Bear Cub Strolls Through Oregon Drug Store

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) Shoppers at an Oregon drug store were surprised by a bear cub scurrying down the aisles this past weekend. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
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