Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ancient insects shed light on biodiversity

Date:
February 12, 2013
Source:
Simon Fraser University
Summary:
Evolutionary biologists have discovered that modern tropical mountains' diversity patterns extended up into Canada about 50 million years ago. Their findings confirm an influential theory about change in modern species diversity across mountains, and provide evidence that global biodiversity was greater in ancient times than now.

Tiny fossil fly.
Credit: Image courtesy of Simon Fraser University

Simon Fraser University evolutionary biologists Bruce Archibald and Rolf Mathewes, and Brandon University biologist David Greenwood, have discovered that modern tropical mountains' diversity patterns extended up into Canada about 50 million years ago.

Their findings confirm an influential theory about change in modern species diversity across mountains, and provide evidence that global biodiversity was greater in ancient times than now. The scientific journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology has published their research.

About 45 years ago, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Pennsylvania theorized that change in species from site to site across mountain ranges in the tropics should be greater than in temperate latitudes.

Daniel Janzen reasoned that the great difference between summer and winter in temperate latitudes (high seasonality) offers a wide window to migrate across mountainous regions. The small difference in the tropics (low seasonality) allows a very narrow opportunity, annually. Consequently, communities across tropical mountains should have fewer of the same species. Many studies examining modern communities support this theory.

Archibald, Mathewes and Greenwood realized that fossil beds across a thousand kilometres of the ancient mountains of British Columbia and Washington provided a unique lens through which to deepen evaluation of this theory.

Fifty million years ago, when these fossil beds were laid down, the world had low seasonality outside of the tropics, right to the poles. Because of this, if Janzen's theory is right, the pattern of biodiversity that he described in modern tropical mountains should have extended well into higher latitudes.

"We found that insect species changed greatly across British Columbia's and Washington State's ancient mountain ranges, like in the modern tropics," Archibald says, "exactly as Janzen's seasonality hypothesis predicted.

This implies that it's the particular seasonality now found in the modern tropics, not where that climate is situated globally, that affects this biodiversity pattern." He adds: "Sometimes it helps to look to the ancient past to better understand how things work today."

The findings also bolster the idea that ancient Earth was a much more diverse world than now with many more species.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. S. Bruce Archibald, David R. Greenwood, Rolf W. Mathewes. Seasonality, montane beta diversity, and Eocene insects: Testing Janzen's dispersal hypothesis in an equable world. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2012.10.043

Cite This Page:

Simon Fraser University. "Ancient insects shed light on biodiversity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130212132001.htm>.
Simon Fraser University. (2013, February 12). Ancient insects shed light on biodiversity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130212132001.htm
Simon Fraser University. "Ancient insects shed light on biodiversity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130212132001.htm (accessed August 28, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

40,000-Year-Old Mammoth Skeleton Found On Texas Farm

40,000-Year-Old Mammoth Skeleton Found On Texas Farm

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) A mammoth skeleton was discovered in a gravel pit on Wayne McEwen's Texas farm back in May. It's now being donated to a museum. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pawn Shop Buys Lincoln Signature For $50, Worth $50,000

Pawn Shop Buys Lincoln Signature For $50, Worth $50,000

Newsy (Aug. 25, 2014) The signature is one of a couple Lincoln autographs that have popped up recently. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Neanderthals Probably Died Out Earlier Than We Thought

Neanderthals Probably Died Out Earlier Than We Thought

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) A new study is packed with interesting Neanderthal-related findings, including a "definitive answer" to when they went extinct. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) Malaysia's last "fish listeners" -- practitioners of a dying local art of listening underwater to locate their quarry -- try to keep the ancient technique alive in the face of industrial trawling and the depletion of stocks. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
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