Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Insect discovery sheds light on climate change

Date:
July 11, 2013
Source:
Simon Fraser University
Summary:
Biologists have discovered a new, extinct family of insects that will help scientists better understand how some animals responded to global climate change and the evolution of communities.

Fossil of a newly discovered family of extinct scorpionflies from McAbee, B.C.
Credit: Image courtesy of Simon Fraser University

Simon Fraser University biologists have discovered a new, extinct family of insects that will help scientists better understand how some animals responded to global climate change and the evolution of communities.

"The Eocene Apex of Panorpoid Family Diversity," a paper by SFU's Bruce Archibald and Rolf Mathewes, plus David Greenwood from Brandon University, was recently published in the Journal of Paleontology.

The researchers named the new family the Eorpidae, after the Eocene Epoch, the age when these insects lived some 50 million years ago. The fossils were found in British Columbia and Washington state, most prominently at the McAbee Fossil Beds near Cache Creek, B.C.

This new family raises questions about its extinction. Insect families have steadily accumulated since before the Eocene, with few, scattered losses -- apart from the distinct exception of a cluster of family extinctions within a group of scorpionflies that includes the Eorpidae.

"The Eorpidae was part of a cluster of six closely related families in the Eocene, but today this group is reduced to two. Why were these different?" says Archibald. "We believe the answer may lay in a combination of two large-scale challenges that would have hit them hard: the evolutionary diversification of a strong competitive group and global climate change."

In a major evolutionary diversification, ants evolved from a small group to become major ecological players in the Eocene, now competing with these scorpionflies for the same food resource in a whole new, efficient manner.

Global climates were much warmer 50 million years ago, associated with increased atmospheric carbon, a relationship that scientists see today. Along with this, winters were mild, even in the cool, higher elevations where these insects lived. Average temperatures there were similar to modern Vancouver, but with few -- if any -- frost days.

When climates outside of the tropics later cooled, temperature seasonality also widened, forming the modern pattern of hot summers and freezing winters. Plant and animal groups that inhabited Eocene uplands either had to evolve tolerance for colder winters, migrate to the hot tropics and adapt to that climate, or go extinct.

"These scorpionfly families appear to have retained their need to inhabit cooler climates, but to persist there, they would need to evolve toleration for cold winters, a feat that only the two surviving families may have accomplished," Archibald explains. "Understanding the evolutionary history of these insects adds another piece to the puzzle of how animal communities change as climate does -- but in this case, when an interval of global warming ends."


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Simon Fraser University. "Insect discovery sheds light on climate change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130711154120.htm>.
Simon Fraser University. (2013, July 11). Insect discovery sheds light on climate change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130711154120.htm
Simon Fraser University. "Insect discovery sheds light on climate change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130711154120.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism

Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Operators of recreational businesses on western reservoirs worry that ongoing drought concerns will keep boaters and other visitors from flocking to the popular summer attractions. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ark. Man Finds 6-Carat Diamond At State Park

Ark. Man Finds 6-Carat Diamond At State Park

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) An Arkansas man has found a nearly 6.2-carat diamond, which he dubbed "The Limitless Diamond," at the Crater of Diamonds State Park. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest

Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) At least six Nepalese guides are dead after an avalanche swept the slopes of Mount Everest along a route used to climb the world's highest peak. (April 18) 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