Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Model of island ecology sheds new light on the origins of island species

Date:
May 2, 2011
Source:
University of Leeds
Summary:
Animal and bird species found only on a single island should still be common within that island.

Animal and bird species found only on a single island should still be common within that island. Photo taken on an island in the Galápagos.
Credit: © Sergio Matínez / Fotolia

Animal and bird species found only on a single island should still be common within that island. This is the finding of a new model developed by researchers from the University of Leeds and Imperial College London. The model could apply both to actual islands and isolated areas of habitat on the mainland that are home to unique species, such as the table top mountains of South America.

Related Articles


The natural history of islands is littered with examples of unusual species found only in one place, such as the Hawaiian Goose, Galápagos Tortoises and Dodo that may once have been common on their islands, but since human contact have become rare or even extinct. Now this new modelling approach shows that in general, most unique island species should be common on their island. If they are not, then the researchers believe human activity is most likely to be the cause.

"Models of island ecology have tended to focus on the total number of different species that you might expect to find on an island, rather than on how common or rare those species are and whether or not they are unique to the island," says Dr James Rosindell, of Leeds' Faculty of Biological Sciences. "Our model is able to predict the way that new species develop in isolation from the mainland as well as how many individuals of each species we could expect to see in their natural habitat. However, there is little data on population sizes and this highlights a real gap in knowledge that we need to fill."

To develop the model, the researchers collated data on bird species found across 35 islands and archipelagos. Modern genetics makes it possible to identify which species have diverged to create new species -- so the team were able to test their model against actual data.

The model and data both show that whilst islands close to the mainland have no unique species, more distant islands tend to have unique species that are closely related to mainland species. Only the islands and archipelagos furthest from the mainland are expected to contain large numbers of unique species closely related to each other, such as Darwin's finches on the Galápagos and the Hawaiian honeycreepers.

"This model is still in its early stages of development, but we hope it will help to prompt more study of population sizes on islands," says Dr Albert Phillimore, from Imperial's Department of Life Sciences. "Comparing the predictions of different models to actual data can help us to identify where other factors are coming into play -- such as additional ecological processes and human intervention. In the future, we plan to look at how the model could also help make predictions relevant to conservation strategy."

The work has been funded through an EPSRC research fellowship and an Imperial Junior Research Fellowship.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. James Rosindell, Albert B. Phillimore. A unified model of island biogeography sheds light on the zone of radiation. Ecology Letters, 2011; DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2011.01617.x

Cite This Page:

University of Leeds. "Model of island ecology sheds new light on the origins of island species." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110412101336.htm>.
University of Leeds. (2011, May 2). Model of island ecology sheds new light on the origins of island species. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110412101336.htm
University of Leeds. "Model of island ecology sheds new light on the origins of island species." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110412101336.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) — The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Newsy (Nov. 22, 2014) — For the first time Monterey Bay Aquarium recorded a video of the elusive, creepy and rarely seen anglerfish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Around the World Take Flight

Birds Around the World Take Flight

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 22, 2014) — An imperial eagle equipped with a camera spreads its wings over London. It's just one of the many birds making headlines in this week's "animal roundup". Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
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