Tag Archives: extinction

Coexisting in a Sea of Competition

Similar Diatom Species Seek Out Nutrients in Different Ways

Diversity of life abounds on Earth, and there’s no need to look any farther than the ocean’s surface for proof. There are over 200,000 species of phytoplankton alone, and all of those species of microscopic marine plants that form the base of the marine food web need the same basic resources to grow—light and nutrients. (more…)

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Outlook is Grim for Mammals and Birds as Human Population Grows

Average Growing Nation Can Expect 10.8 Percent More Threatened Species by 2050

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The ongoing global growth in the human population will inevitably crowd out mammals and birds and has the potential to threaten hundreds of species with extinction within 40 years, new research shows.

Scientists at The Ohio State University have determined that the average growing nation should expect at least 3.3 percent more threatened species in the next decade and an increase of 10.8 percent species threatened with extinction by 2050.

The United States ranks sixth in the world in the number of new species expected to be threatened by 2050, the research showed. (more…)

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Self-fertilizing plants contribute to their own demise

TORONTO, ON – Many plants are self-fertilizing, meaning they act as both mother and father to their own seeds. This strategy – known as selfing – guarantees reproduction but, over time, leads to reduced diversity and the accumulation of harmful mutations. A new study published in the scientific journal Nature Genetics shows that these negative consequences are apparent across a selfing plant’s genome, and can arise more rapidly than previously thought.

In the study, an international consortium led by Stephen Wright in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto and Detlef Weigel at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology sequenced the genome of the plant species Capsella rubella, commonly known as Red Shepherd’s Purse. They found clear evidence that harmful mutations were accumulating over the species’ relatively short existence. (more…)

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Mutant Champions Save Imperiled Species from Almost-Certain Extinction

Species facing widespread and rapid environmental changes can sometimes evolve quickly enough to dodge the extinction bullet. Populations of disease-causing bacteria evolve, for example, as doctors flood their “environment,” the human body, with antibiotics. Insects, animals and plants can make evolutionary adaptations in response to pesticides, heavy metals and overfishing.

Previous studies have shown that the more gradual the change, the better the chances for “evolutionary rescue” – the process of mutations occurring fast enough to allow a population to avoid extinction in changing environments. One obvious reason is that more individuals remain alive when change is gradual or moderate, meaning there are more opportunities for a winning mutation to emerge. (more…)

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Global Warming May Have Severe Consequences for Rare Haleakala Silverswords

HONOLULU — While the iconic Haleakalā silversword plant made a strong recovery from early 20th-century threats, it has now entered a period of substantial climate-related decline. New research published this week warns that global warming may have severe consequences for the silversword in its native habitat.

Known for its striking rosette, the silversword grows for 20-90 years before the single reproductive event at the end of its life, at which time it produces a large (up to six feet tall) inflorescence with as many as 600 flower heads. The plant was in jeopardy in the early 1900s due to animals eating the plants and visitors gathering them. With successful management, including legal protection and the physical exclusion of hoofed animals, the species made a strong recovery, but since the mid-1990s it has entered a period of substantial decline. A strong association of annual population growth rates with patterns of precipitation suggests the plants are undergoing increasingly frequent and lethal water stress. Local climate data confirm trends towards warmer and drier conditions on the mountain, which the researchers warn will create a bleak outlook for the threatened silverswords if climate trends continue. (more…)

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Biodiversity: The most common issues

Biodiversity can be considered as an imperative factor that plays a crucial role in poverty reduction owing to its basic goods and the ecosystem services it provides. Over three billion people rely on coastal and marine biodiversity and about 1.7 billion people depend upon non-timber forest products and forests for biodiversity.

Common issues relating to biodiversity can be classified as:

Biodiversity as a source of income and food

World’s poor population, especially living in rural areas are dependent on biological resources for meeting most of their needs. At least, 90 percent of their needs relating to fuel, shelter, medicines and food come from biological resources. (more…)

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Three New Species of Venomous Primate Identified by MU Researcher

Research may help protect rare primate from illegal trades

A video about the illegal trade in slow lorises.

A venomous primate with two tongues would seem safe from the pet trade, but the big-eyed, teddy-bear face of the slow loris (Nycticebus sp.) has made them a target for illegal pet poachers throughout the animal’s range in southeastern Asia and nearby islands. A University of Missouri doctoral student and her colleagues recently identified three new species of slow loris. The primates had originally been grouped with another species. Dividing the species into four distinct classes means the risk of extinction is greater than previously believed for the animals but could help efforts to protect the unusual primate. (more…)

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