Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why Are There So Many More Species Of Insects? Because Insects Have Been Here Longer

Date:
April 4, 2007
Source:
University of Chicago Press Journals
Summary:
Scientists show that many insect groups like beetles and butterflies have fantastic numbers of species because these groups are so old. In contrast, less diverse groups, like mammals and birds, are evolutionarily younger. This is a surprisingly simple answer to a fundamental biological puzzle.

J. B. S. Haldane once famously quipped that "God is inordinately fond of beetles." Results of a study by Mark A. McPeek of Dartmouth College and Jonathan M. Brown of Grinnell College suggest that this fondness was expressed not by making so many, but rather by allowing them to persist for so long.

Related Articles


In a study appearing in the April issue of the American Naturalist, McPeek and Brown show that many insect groups like beetles and butterflies have fantastic numbers of species because these groups are so old. In contrast, less diverse groups, like mammals and birds, are evolutionarily younger.

This is a surprisingly simple answer to a fundamental biological puzzle. They accumulated data from molecular phylogenies (which date the evolutionary relationships among species using genetic information) and from the fossil record to ask whether groups with more species today had accumulated species at faster rates.

Animals as diverse as mollusks, insects, spiders, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals appear to have accumulated new species at surprisingly similar rates over evolutionary time. Groups with more species were simply those that had survived longer. Their analyses thus identify time as a primary determinant of species diversity patterns across animals.

Given the unprecedented extinction rates that the Earth's biota are currently experiencing, these findings are also quite sobering. We are rapidly losing what it has taken nature hundreds of millions of years to construct, and only time can repair it.

Mark A. McPeek and Jonathan M. Brown, "Clade Age and Not Diversification Rate Explains Species Richness among Animal Taxa" The American Naturalist, volume 169 (2007), pages E97--E106 DOI: 10.1086/512135


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago Press Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Press Journals. "Why Are There So Many More Species Of Insects? Because Insects Have Been Here Longer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 April 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070403112553.htm>.
University of Chicago Press Journals. (2007, April 4). Why Are There So Many More Species Of Insects? Because Insects Have Been Here Longer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070403112553.htm
University of Chicago Press Journals. "Why Are There So Many More Species Of Insects? Because Insects Have Been Here Longer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070403112553.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) 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