Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New explanation for the origin of high species diversity in Amazon

Date:
November 14, 2010
Source:
Academy of Natural Sciences
Summary:
An international team of scientists has reset the agenda for future research in the highly diverse Amazon region by showing that the extraordinary diversity found there is much older than generally thought.

New research shows that Amazonian diversity has evolved as by-product of the Andean mountain uplift over millions of years, despite previous focus on the more recent history.
Credit: iStockphoto/Morley Read

An international team of scientists, including a leading evolutionary biologist from the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, have reset the agenda for future research in the highly diverse Amazon region by showing that the extraordinary diversity found there is much older than generally thought.

The findings from this study, which draws on research by the Academy's Dr. John Lundberg and other scientists, were published as a review article in the journal Science. The study shows that Amazonian diversity has evolved as by-product of the Andean mountain uplift over millions of years, despite previous focus on the more recent history.

The vast Amazonian rainforest is arguably the most species-rich terrestrial ecosystem in the world, yet the timing of the original and evolutionary causes of this diversity are a matter of debate.

The authors compare modern diversity patterns with geological and molecular datasets and show that the highest species diversity in Amazonia today is found on a surface of Andean origin spanning more than a million square kilometers, which has been formed in the past 23 million years. This tight link between the geological history of the Andes and the development of the Amazon basin means that studies aiming to understand how the mega-diverse Amazonian forests have evolved need to look further back in time, to the past 20 million years.

Debate abounds on origin of Amazonian biodiversity

A wide range of scientific theories currently exist on the origin and complexity of the present day biodiversity in the Amazonian region. Though scientists have long suspected that the Andes influenced rainforest composition, the timing and causes have remained uncertain. In their review article, lead author Dr. Carina Hoorn of the University of Amsterdam, Lundberg, and their co-authors list the extraordinary flora and fauna that have evolved in the dynamic Amazonian landscape, which in turn has developed at a pace dictated by the reshuffling (Pacific) tectonic plates and subsequent uplift in the Andes. The paleogeographic evolution dictated by this geological reconfiguration included the formation of a vast wetland which, after the onset of the Amazon River around 10 million years ago, dried up and was open to colonization by plants and animals.

In this article, fittingly published in the International Year of Biodiversity, the authors encourage scientists to refocus when seeking explanations for the evolution of modern biodiversity. In the case of Amazonia, the pre-Quaternary flora and fauna already showed a very high level of species richness which was, in the case of reptiles and plants, even higher than found today.

"The Amazonian region, from its highest mountains to immense lowland rivers, supports a tremendous biological richness of species," said Lundberg, curator and Chaplin chair of ichthyology at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. "Many previously unseen species are discovered and documented every year."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Academy of Natural Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. C. Hoorn, F. P. Wesselingh, H. ter Steege, M. A. Bermudez, A. Mora, J. Sevink, I. Sanmartνn, A. Sanchez-Meseguer, C. L. Anderson, J. P. Figueiredo, C. Jaramillo, D. Riff, F. R. Negri, H. Hooghiemstra, J. Lundberg, T. Stadler, T. Sδrkinen, and A. Antonelli. Amazonia Through Time: Andean Uplift, Climate Change, Landscape Evolution, and Biodiversity. Science, 2010; 330 (6006): 927-931 DOI: 10.1126/science.1194585

Cite This Page:

Academy of Natural Sciences. "New explanation for the origin of high species diversity in Amazon." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101111141803.htm>.
Academy of Natural Sciences. (2010, November 14). New explanation for the origin of high species diversity in Amazon. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101111141803.htm
Academy of Natural Sciences. "New explanation for the origin of high species diversity in Amazon." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101111141803.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) — State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) — Hoping to break the record for world's wooliest, Shaun the sheep came up 10 pounds shy with his fleece weighing over 50 pounds after being shorn for the first time in years. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) — Canadian scientists looking into the very first land animals took a fish out of water and forced it to walk. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fake Dogs Scare Real Geese from Wis. Park

Fake Dogs Scare Real Geese from Wis. Park

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) — Parks officials in Stevens Point, Wisconsin had a fowl problem. Canadian Geese were making a mess of a park, so officials enlisted cardboard versions of man's best friend. (Aug. 28) 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:
from the past week

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