World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Researchers discover fastest speciation for marine animals


Researchers discover fastest known speciation for marine animals

Researchers at the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB), an organized research unit in the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology in an international collaboration with University of California at Davis, Simon Frasier University and the University of Sydney have made a remarkable new discovery.

Understanding the processes that create and maintain biodiversity, such as when and how new species form, remains one of the greatest challenges facing biologists, conservation scientists, and managers today. These processes are especially obscure in the ocean, where many organisms have tiny juvenile larval stages that swim in the plankton for some time before settling into a largely sedentary adult. This larval stage has the potential to disperse over great distances and keep populations very well-mixed, thus decreasing the chance for speciation. On the other hand, larvae also have the opportunity to disperse great distances to colonize new habitats where they may adapt and perhaps even evolve into a new species. This process usually takes hundreds of thousands to millions of years.

In a new study released today, researchers discovered that two species of sea stars evolved only 6,000 years ago, during a period of rapid environmental alteration. In the process, one species changed from the ancestral form with separate sexes that release eggs into the water for fertilization. The new species, Cryptasterina hystera, lost the planktonic larval stage all together, and changed from having separate sexes to being hermaphroditic (organisms that have both sexes). This species now carries juveniles internally until they give birth to live young, and has the potential to self-fertilize. This shift in reproduction has dramatically reduced the genetic diversity of C. hystera to levels that are on par with many endangered species. Additionally, populations of this species are genetically different among tide pools only meters apart from each other. This rapid speciation in response to environmental change means that some may have the potential to adapt to future climate change. Postdoctoral researcher, Jon Puritz led the investigation, and when asked about the recent discovery said, “This rate of speciation is nearly a hundred times faster than we normally see in the ocean, and to have it coupled with such a drastic change in life history is really spectacular. It seems like evolution in life history traits may be a particularly fast pathway to speciation.”

The Royal Society journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B has published the full research report by Puritz et al. and is available at http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Cyclone Pam Drives Up Contraceptive Demand In Vanuatu

UNFPA Pacific, Port Vila, Vanuatu (March 31, 2015) - Katherine Silas grimaces but one is not entirely sure if it is in response to pain or merely the sight of the needle being used to implant the long-term contraceptive, jadelle, a week after Cyclone ... More>>

Palestine: Border Police Extremely Close When They Shot The US Activist

New testimony at final hearing in Tristan Anderson's trial indicates Border Police were extremely close when they shot the US activist in the head More>>

Palestine: Ni’lin Demonstrators Met With Violence

International Solidarity Movement On the 20th of March, during Ni’lin’s weekly Friday demonstration, Israeli occupation forces attacked protestors with about 20 rounds of tear gas canisters shot with the ‘venom’ tear gas launcher mounted on a military jeep ... More>>

ALSO:

UN Envoy Says Yemen On 'Rapid Downward Spiral'

Yemen stands on the brink of civil war amid deepening political tensions and an uptick in sectarian violence, United Nations Special Adviser Jamal Benomar warned today as he explained that only through dialogue could the country achieve a peaceful political transition. More>>


Continued International Support As Vanuatu Recovers

Damage seen on Saturday 14 March 2015 in Port Vila, capital of Vanuatu, after Cyclone Pam moved through the Archipelago. Photo: UNICEF Pacific More>>

UNICEF Rushes Emergency Supplies For Cyclone-Affected Tuvalu

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is dispatching emergency life-saving supplies to communities in Tuvalu as part of its efforts to assist communities in the Pacific region that were affected by Tropical Cyclone Pam, with nutrition and hygiene kits arriving today. More>>

Guinea Reports Highest Weekly Ebola Case Total This Year

Guinea reports highest weekly Ebola case total so far this year, new UN data shows More>>


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news