Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Insect DNA offers tiny clues about animals' changing habitats

Date:
March 8, 2012
Source:
University of Edinburgh
Summary:
The long-term impact of climate change on natural communities of wild animals could be better understood thanks to a new study.

The long-term impact of climate change on communities of wild animals could be better understood thanks to a new study.

The research will help predict how migration of animals or changes to their habitats associated with climate change could affect relationships between predators and their prey.

Cat and mouse

Scientists have shed light on how species and their natural enemies chase each other across continents in a game of cat and mouse lasting for millions of years.

They used a technique known as population genetics to reveal historical information hidden in the DNA of small plant-feeding insects and their wasp enemies.

Scientists were able to show how closely predators track their prey over long periods of time.

Arms race

"We hope that our study will improve understanding of how interactions between modern species may respond to climate change, said Professor Graham Stone of the School of Biological Sciences.

The study, involving University of Edinburgh scientists, reconstructed the evolutionary arms race between the insects and their wasp enemies.

The study looked at 31 species, all of which originated in Iran and Turkey, and spread into Europe over the past four million years.

The timing of each species' journey was determined by how well it coped with the many ice ages during this period of Earth's history.

Predator and prey

Researchers found that during these natural cycles of climate change, the plant-feeding insects often outran their predators, moving faster and so escaping attack -- often for hundreds of thousands of years.

Battles between predators and prey were sometimes interrupted for long periods of time, suspending the arms race between the two groups.

Scientists say relationships between species that evolve closely together can be fragile, leading to biological communities that can be easily disrupted by climate change.

Fragile links

However, this research suggests that, at least for these insects, the predator-prey relationships are less fragile and are resistant to disruption.

In addition, however, modern environments are much more fragmented than those in the past, making all natural communities more sensitive to change.

"Insects account for more than half of all animal species found on Earth. Interactions between insects, and between insects and other kinds of organisms, fulfill many important biological roles -- including crop pollination and pest control," Stone said.

 

The study, carried out in collaboration with the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and the City University New York, was published in Current Biology and supported by the Natural Environment Research Council.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Graham N. Stone, Konrad Lohse, James A. Nicholls, Pablo Fuentes-Utrilla, Frazer Sinclair, Karsten Schönrogge, György Csóka, George Melika, Jose-Luis Nieves-Aldrey, Juli Pujade-Villar, Majide Tavakoli, Richard R. Askew, Michael J. Hickerson. Reconstructing Community Assembly in Time and Space Reveals Enemy Escape in a Western Palearctic Insect Community. Current Biology, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.01.059

Cite This Page:

University of Edinburgh. "Insect DNA offers tiny clues about animals' changing habitats." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120308143239.htm>.
University of Edinburgh. (2012, March 8). Insect DNA offers tiny clues about animals' changing habitats. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120308143239.htm
University of Edinburgh. "Insect DNA offers tiny clues about animals' changing habitats." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120308143239.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) — A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur on Monday when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) — Drake University hosts 35th annual Beautiful Bulldog Contest. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — One Florida fisherman caught a 805-pound shark off the coast of Florida earlier this month. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Foods Are Getting Pricier

Breakfast Foods Are Getting Pricier

AP (Apr. 21, 2014) — Breakfast is now being served with a side of sticker shock. The cost of morning staples like bacon, coffee and orange juice is on the rise because of global supply problems. (April 21) 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