Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Origin of biodiversity in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil

Date:
June 3, 2014
Source:
Universidad de Barcelona
Summary:
The Atlantic Forest of Brazil is one of the world’s most important biodiversity hot spots; it still harbors a high number of endemic species. To know the processes that generate and maintain biodiversity is a major and controversial topic in evolutionary biology with large implications for conservation management. A research group has performed a comprehensive phylogeographic study by analyzing genetic diversity patterns and levels of land planarians in 11 site localities.

Land planarian is a low-dispersal organism that inhabits soil ecosystems.
Credit: Image courtesy of Universidad de Barcelona

The Atlantic Forest of Brazil is one of the world's most important biodiversity hot spots; it still harbours a high number of endemic species. To know the processes that generate and maintain biodiversity is a major and controversial topic in evolutionary biology with large implications for conservation management. A research group from the University of Barcelona (UB) has performed a comprehensive phylogeographic study by analysing genetic diversity patterns and levels of land planarians (Cephaloflexa bergi) in 11 site localities, in and out the Serra do Mar biological corridor, in the Atlantic Forest.

Related Articles


The study, published on the cover of the journal Heredity, is signed by Marta Riutort, Julio Rozas, Marta Álvarez Presas and Alejandro Sánchez-Gracia, from the Department of Genetics and the Biodiversity Research Institute of UB (IRBio), together with Fernando Carbayo, from the University of São Paulo (Brazil). The study is focused on a geographic region of the Atlantic Forest which is severely damaged by human activities. Some areas of the region have been protected and some biological corridors have been designed to restore ecosystem functionality.

How is biodiversity originated?

The causes of the origin and maintenance of extant biodiversity in the Neotropics -- an area of high biodiversity value -- have been discussed for decades. Dominating hypotheses point out Pleistocene glaciations -- which took place between 2.5 years ago and 20,000 years ago -- or Tertiary tectonic geological reorganizations Tertiary, which occurred much earlier, as the main factor.

According to the new study, extant biodiversity of the Atlantic Forest of Brazil originated and has been shaped by complex interactions between ancient geological events and more recent evolutionary processes, whereas Pleistocene climate changes had a minor influence in generating present-day diversity, even if they influenced its distribution.

Most studies aimed at defining and studying high biodiversity areas focus on organisms with high-dispersal ability. However, these models could not be good indicators to detect small areas with high biodiversity, so it makes difficult to understand the processes that generate and maintain biodiversity. Innovatively, the study carried out by UB research group is focused on the land planarian (Cephaloflexa bergi), a low-dispersal organism which inhabits soil ecosystems.

Land planarians, an animal model of phylogeographic studies

Authors explain that "to formulate an efficient conservation policy, a good understanding of spatial and temporal biodiversity patterns and their underlying evolutionary mechanisms is required." "For this reason -- they add -- , it is necessary to work with organisms with a low-dispersal ability that are particularly sensitive to changes in the environment."

The research group performed a comparative analysis of DNA sequence variation of land planarian by means of a nuclear and a mitochondrial gene. By applying Bayesian inference methods (Approximate Bayesian Computation, ABC), two scenarios proposed to explain the biodiversity of Southern Atlantic Forest region were evaluated.

Results show that nucleotide diversity levels in this species are very high in most sampled localities. Moreover, most sampled localities harbour high levels of genetic diversity, with lineages sharing common ancestors that predate the Pleistocene (more than 2.5 million years ago). Experts found little evidence of a recent colonization of Brazilian Atlantic forest localities. Nevertheless, some populations might result from very recent secondary contacts; in order words, glacial and interglacial periods might have remodelled diversity distribution.

To improve biodiversity management and conservation

The study published in the journal Heredity highlights that land planarians are an advantageous biological model for making phylogenetic and, particularly, fine-scale evolutionary inferences. Furthermore, the study has enabled experts to propose appropriate conservation policies, for example the need to extend the boundary of the Serra de Mar corridor to the South in order to reconnect some areas that were linked in the past when the Serra do Mar was a continuous forest landscape.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Universidad de Barcelona. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M Álvarez-Presas, A Sánchez-Gracia, F Carbayo, J Rozas, M Riutort. Insights into the origin and distribution of biodiversity in the Brazilian Atlantic forest hot spot: a statistical phylogeographic study using a low-dispersal organism. Heredity, 2014; 112 (6): 656 DOI: 10.1038/hdy.2014.3

Cite This Page:

Universidad de Barcelona. "Origin of biodiversity in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140603135708.htm>.
Universidad de Barcelona. (2014, June 3). Origin of biodiversity in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140603135708.htm
Universidad de Barcelona. "Origin of biodiversity in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140603135708.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — An invisible barrier is keeping dangerous super fast electrons from interfering with our atmosphere, but scientists aren't entirely sure how. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Innovative recycling project in La Paz separates city waste and converts plastic garbage into school furniture made from 'plastiwood'. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers at Northwestern University are repurposing Blu-ray movies for better solar panel technology thanks to the discs' internal structures. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Antarctic sea ice isn't only expanding, it's thicker than previously thought, and scientists aren't sure exactly why. 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