Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rising seas caused by glacial melting linked to Caribbean 'extinction' of bats

Date:
November 7, 2012
Source:
Stony Brook University
Summary:
Most species loss in Bahamas and Greater Antilles have been explained by loss of land area.

The skulls of Subfossil Caribbean bats from the Dominican Republic.
Credit: Courtesy of the Museo del Hombre Dominicano, Dr. Renato Rímoli and the Antillothrix Project.

In a new study published in the journal Ecology and Evolution, researchers show that rising sea levels produced by deglaciation, or the melting of glaciers, caused the extinction of most bats in the Caribbean Islands, including the Cuban vampire and Puerto Rican flower bats. The article, entitled, "Deglaciation explains bat extinction in the Caribbean," led by Assistant Professor Liliana M. Dávalos, PhD, from the Department of Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook University, shows that deglaciation drowned vast expanses of low-lying islands.

According to Professor Dávalos and her colleague Amy L. Russell, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, the high extinction rate following deglaciation in the Caribbean has been noted for decades and rich fossil deposits in the Bahamas and the Greater Antilles attest to a fauna that no longer exists. Among mammals, most terrestrial species were wiped out around the time humans arrived, and many bat populations that existed elsewhere went extinct (e.g., Cuban vampire bat, Puerto Rican flower bat, etc.) on one or several islands. The many instances of both extinction and persistence of bats across dozens of islands made it an ideal system for investigating how climate change may shape island fauna.

The researchers used deep sea-bathymetry (measurement of underwater depth) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to model the extent to which land would have been exposed in the Caribbean at the peak of the glaciation, when sea levels were 125 meters below their current levels. Combining the record of current and fossil bats with the area for each island, they then used a simple mathematical relationship between the number of species and area of an island to estimate the number of local extinction events that could be explained by the change in area.

Together, they found that most of the species loss in the Bahamas and Greater Antilles could be explained by the loss of area caused by rising sea levels. In the Lesser Antilles the mathematical models pointed out gaps in the fossil record of most islands. The large impact of area loss on species loss held, even after excluding species that may have colonized the islands recently and accounting for coral growth in the Bahamas.

"There have been many explanations before as to why so many bat populations collapsed: cave drowning, the arrival of new species, lack of tolerance to the warmer and wetter climate of the Holocene are examples," said Professor Dávalos.

"We were expecting area loss to be important in explaining extinction, but not as important as we found. This drives home the point that rising sea levels pose great risks to biodiversity today," Professor Russell said.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Liliana M. Dávalos, Amy L. Russell. Deglaciation explains bat extinction in the Caribbean. Ecology and Evolution, 2012; DOI: 10.1002/ece3.399

Cite This Page:

Stony Brook University. "Rising seas caused by glacial melting linked to Caribbean 'extinction' of bats." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121107122455.htm>.
Stony Brook University. (2012, November 7). Rising seas caused by glacial melting linked to Caribbean 'extinction' of bats. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121107122455.htm
Stony Brook University. "Rising seas caused by glacial melting linked to Caribbean 'extinction' of bats." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121107122455.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) — A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) — A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
What's To Blame For Worst Ebola Outbreak In History?

What's To Blame For Worst Ebola Outbreak In History?

Newsy (July 27, 2014) — A U.S. doctor has tested positive for the deadly Ebola virus, as the worst-ever outbreak continues to grow. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The New York Times Backs Pot Legalization

The New York Times Backs Pot Legalization

Newsy (July 27, 2014) — The New York Times has officially endorsed the legalization of marijuana, but why now, and to what end? 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:
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