Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Volcanoes helped species survive ice ages

Date:
March 10, 2014
Source:
Australian National University
Summary:
Researchers have found evidence that the steam and heat from volcanoes and heated rocks allowed many species of plants and animals to survive past ice ages, helping scientists understand how species respond to climate change.

This image shows a man standing in volanic steam in Antartica.
Credit: Peter Convey, British Antartic Survey

An international team of researchers has found evidence that the steam and heat from volcanoes and heated rocks allowed many species of plants and animals to survive past ice ages, helping scientists understand how species respond to climate change.

Related Articles


The research could solve a long-running mystery about how some species survived and continued to evolve through past ice ages in parts of the planet covered by glaciers.

The team, led by Dr Ceridwen Fraser from the Australian National University and Dr Aleks Terauds from the Australian Antarctic Division, studied tens of thousands of records of Antarctic species, collected over decades by hundreds of researchers, and found there are more species close to volcanoes, and fewer further away.

"Volcanic steam can melt large ice caves under the glaciers, and it can be tens of degrees warmer in there than outside. Caves and warm steam fields would have been great places for species to hang out during ice ages," Dr Fraser said.

"We can learn a lot from looking at the impacts of past climate change as we try to deal with the accelerated change that humans are now causing."

While the study was based on Antarctica, the findings help scientists understand how species survived past ice ages in other icy regions, including in periods when it is thought there was little or no ice-free land on the planet.

Antarctica has at least 16 volcanoes which have been active since the last ice age 20,000 years ago.

The study examined diversity patterns of mosses, lichens and bugs which are still common in Antarctica today.

Professor Peter Convey from the British Antarctic Survey said around 60 per cent of Antarctic invertebrate species are found nowhere else in the world.

"They have clearly not arrived on the continent recently, but must have been there for millions of years. How they survived past ice ages -- the most recent of which ended less than 20,000 years ago -- has long puzzled scientists," Professor Convey said.

Dr Terauds of the Australian Antarctic Division ran the analyses, and says the patterns are striking.

"The closer you get to volcanoes, the more species you find. This pattern supports our hypothesis that species have been expanding their ranges and gradually moving out from volcanic areas since the last ice age," Dr Terauds said.

Professor Steven Chown, from Monash University, says the research findings could help guide conservation efforts in Antarctica.

"Knowing where the 'hotspots' of diversity are will help us to protect them as human-induced environmental changes continue to affect Antarctica," Professor Chown said.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Ceridwen I. Fraser, Aleks Terauds, John Smellie, Peter Convey, and Steven L. Chown. Geothermal activity helps life survive glacial cycles. PNAS, March 10, 2014 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1321437111

Cite This Page:

Australian National University. "Volcanoes helped species survive ice ages." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140310152154.htm>.
Australian National University. (2014, March 10). Volcanoes helped species survive ice ages. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140310152154.htm
Australian National University. "Volcanoes helped species survive ice ages." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140310152154.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) EU leaders achieve a show of unity by striking a compromise deal on carbon emissions. But David Cameron's bid to push back EU budget contributions gets a slap in the face as the European Commission demands an extra 2bn euros. David Pollard reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) A rare tornado ripped roofs off buildings, uprooted trees and shattered windows Thursday afternoon in the southwest Washington city of Longview, but there were no reports of injuries. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Newsy (Oct. 24, 2014) Lava from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has accelerated as it travels toward a town called Pahoa. 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