Science Current Events | Science News | Brightsurf.com
 

Notre Dame research into oaks helps us understand climate change

August 03, 2012
Jeanne Romero-Severson, associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Notre Dame, and her collaborators, are tracking the evolution of the live oaks of eastern North America, seeking to understand how the trees adapted to climate change during glacial periods.

When the ice advanced, the oaks retreated. When the ice retreated the oaks advanced, spreading from tropical to temperate zones, up from Central America and Mexico into the Piedmont Carolinas. The researchers expect the study of live oak migrations and phylogeny will provide clues to the success of the oaks that range up into northern Ontario in Canada.

Oaks originated in southeast Asia before the continents split and migrated both east and west, but North America has far more species than other regions. Researchers have long suspected that repeated climate challenges might have led to this diversity. Previous studies have shown that the live oaks that live in Mexico cannot survive the Carolina winters. This shows that there are genetic differences between the southern live oaks and their northern descendants.

"In Mexico, live oaks do not experience repeated cycles of freezing and thawing," Romero-Severson says. "Are the live oak species that now live further north different species because of this cold tolerance? What about the live oak species that span the tropical-temperate divide? It is logical to assume there is a genetic basis for the ability to survive in those cold temperatures. With four groups of researchers working together, we can tease out how it was that oaks were able to adapt to the climate as they moved north. What were the genetic changes they underwent?"

Romero-Severson focuses on genetics and genomics of the oaks. Andrew Hipp of the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Ill., is studying their morphological differences; Paul Manos of Duke University is studying their systematics (family trees based on DNA markers); and Jeannine Cavender-Bares of the University of Minnesota is studying their ecophysiology, including the survival of seedlings in cold temperatures. A National Science Foundation grant supports the research.

The team hypothesizes that trees in contact with relatives who could just manage to survive in the cold were able to "capture" from these relatives a few genes favorable for survival in colder climates, without retaining extensive genetic changes that would alter their morphology. Different animal species rarely hybridize in nature and when they do, the offspring are often sterile, like mules. Different forest tree species often make fertile interspecific hybrids, but the parent species remain morphologically distinct.

"It's a mystery to us how oak species can have rampant interspecies hybridization and yet maintain species distinction, but they do," Romero-Severson says. "Favorable gene combinations from one live oak species can be captured by any other live oak species." There might be an "interspecific hybrid screen," a process that retains a relatively small number of good genes that equip the species for successful northward migration, while maintaining all the other genes that determine species identity.

Identification of the genetic changes in the relatively small number of live oak species in the southeastern United States and Mexico can provide clues for study of the more extensive deciduous red and white oaks, which reach from the Caribbean into California to the west and up into Canada from the east. Eastern North America alone has more than two dozen red oak species and close to two dozen white oak species. Some regions in the southeastern United States have the highest concentration of oak species in the world.

"Our hypothesis is that the same set of genes is involved in cold tolerance in all of these species," Romero-Severson says. "We feel that we have defined the problem so carefully that what we learn from these live oaks will help us understand how evolution works, and how natural adaptation arises. Our goal is to understand the role of hybridization in the evolution of forest trees and how forest trees actually respond to rapid climate change."

Romero-Severson, who came to Notre Dame in 2003, is also part of a team of researchers from seven universities with an NSF grant to develop genomics tools for finding the genetic basis for tolerance to the introduced insects and diseases that threaten the nation's hardwood trees.

University of Notre Dame


Related Climate Change Current Events and Climate Change News Articles


New, tighter timeline confirms ancient volcanism aligned with dinosaurs' extinction
A definitive geological timeline shows that a series of massive volcanic explosions 66 million years ago spewed enormous amounts of climate-altering gases into the atmosphere immediately before and during the extinction event that claimed Earth's non-avian dinosaurs, according to new research from Princeton University.

NOAA establishes 'tipping points' for sea level rise related flooding
By 2050, a majority of U.S. coastal areas are likely to be threatened by 30 or more days of flooding each year due to dramatically accelerating impacts from sea level rise, according to a new NOAA study, published today in the American Geophysical Union's online peer-reviewed journal Earth's Future.

NOAA/NASA Satellite Sees Holiday Lights Brighten Cities
With a new look at daily data from the NOAA/NASA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) satellite, a NASA scientist and colleagues have identified how patterns in nighttime light intensity change during major holiday seasons - Christmas and New Year's in the United States and the holy month of Ramadan in the Middle East.

NASA Satellites Measure Increase of Sun's Energy Absorbed in the Arctic
NASA satellite instruments have observed a marked increase in solar radiation absorbed in the Arctic since the year 2000 - a trend that aligns with the steady decrease in Arctic sea ice during the same period.

Report: Clearing rainforests distorts wind and water, packs climate wallop beyond carbon
A new study released today presents powerful evidence that clearing trees not only spews carbon into the atmosphere, but also triggers major shifts in rainfall and increased temperatures worldwide that are just as potent as those caused by current carbon pollution.

Discovery Aims to Fight Destructive Bee Disease
University of Guelph researchers hope their new discovery will help combat a disease killing honeybee populations around the world.

Ocean acidification a culprit in commercial shellfish hatcheries' failures
The mortality of larval Pacific oysters in Northwest hatcheries has been linked to ocean acidification. Yet the rate of increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the decrease of pH in near-shore waters have been questioned as being severe enough to cause the die-offs.

Glacier beds can get slipperier at higher sliding speeds
As a glacier's sliding speed increases, the bed beneath the glacier can grow slipperier, according to laboratory experiments conducted by Iowa State University glaciologists.

Back to the future? Past global warming period echoes today's
The rate at which carbon emissions warmed Earth's climate almost 56 million years ago resembles modern, human-caused global warming much more than previously believed, but involved two pulses of carbon to the atmosphere, researchers have found.

Medicaid is a very good investment even if it does not lower cholesterol or blood pressure
Researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health analyzed the results of the Oregon Health Experiment, where eligible uninsured individuals were randomly assigned Medicaid or to stay with their current care.
More Climate Change Current Events and Climate Change News Articles

Climate Change: Evidence and Causes (PDF Booklet)

Climate Change: Evidence and Causes (PDF Booklet)
by National Academies Press


Climate Change: Evidence and Causes is a jointly produced publication of The US National Academy of Sciences and The Royal Society. Written by a UK-US team of leading climate scientists and reviewed by climate scientists and others, the publication is intended as a brief, readable reference document for decision makers, policy makers, educators, and other individuals seeking authoritative information on the some of the questions that continue to be asked. Climate Change makes clear what is well-established and where understanding is still developing. It echoes and builds upon the long history of climate-related work from both national academies, as well as on the newest climate-change assessment from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It touches on current...

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate
by Naomi Klein (Author)


The most important book yet from the author of the international bestseller The Shock Doctrine, a brilliant explanation of why the climate crisis challenges us to abandon the core “free market” ideology of our time, restructure the global economy, and remake our political systems.

In short, either we embrace radical change ourselves or radical changes will be visited upon our physical world. The status quo is no longer an option.

In This Changes Everything Naomi Klein argues that climate change isn’t just another issue to be neatly filed between taxes and health care. It’s an alarm that calls us to fix an economic system that is already failing us in many ways. Klein meticulously builds the case for how massively reducing our greenhouse emissions is our best chance...

Climate Change: Evidence, Impacts, and Choices

Climate Change: Evidence, Impacts, and Choices
by National Academies Press


What is climate? Climate is commonly thought of as the expected weather conditions at a given location over time. People know when they go to New York City in winter, they should take a heavy coat. When they visit the Pacific Northwest, they should take an umbrella. Climate can be measured as many geographic scales - for example, cities, countries, or the entire globe - by such statistics as average temperatures, average number of rainy days, and the frequency of droughts. Climate change refers to changes in these statistics over years, decades, or even centuries.  Enormous progress has been made in increasing our understanding of climate change and its causes, and a clearer picture of current and future impacts is emerging. Research is also shedding light on actions that might be taken...

Don't Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change

Don't Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change
by George Marshall (Author)


Most of us recognize that climate change is real, and yet we do nothing to stop it. What is this psychological mechanism that allows us to know something is true but act as if it is not? George Marshall’s search for the answers brings him face to face with Nobel Prize-winning psychologists and the activists of the Texas Tea Party; the world’s leading climate scientists and the people who denounce them; liberal environmentalists and conservative evangelicals. What he discovered is that our values, assumptions, and prejudices can take on lives of their own, gaining authority as they are shared, dividing people in their wake.

With engaging stories and drawing on years of his own research, Marshall argues that the answers do not lie in the things that make us different and drive...

The Thinking Person's Guide to Climate Change

The Thinking Person's Guide to Climate Change
by Robert Henson (Author)


Everybody can be a thinking person when it comes to climate change, and this book is a perfect roadmap.  Start a web search for “climate change” and the first three suggestions are “facts,” “news,” and “hoax.” The Thinking Person's Guide to Climate Change is rooted in the first, up to date on the second, and anything but the last. Produced by one of the most venerable atmospheric science organizations, it is a must-read for anyone looking for the full story on climate change.

Using global research and written with nonscientists in mind, the Guide breaks down the issues into straightforward categories: “Symptoms” covers signs such as melting ice and extreme weather, while “Science” lays out what we know and how we figured it out....

How to Change Minds About Our Changing Climate: Let Science Do the Talking the Next Time Someone Tries to Tell You...The Climate Isn't Changing; Global ... Other Arguments It's Time to End for Good

How to Change Minds About Our Changing Climate: Let Science Do the Talking the Next Time Someone Tries to Tell You...The Climate Isn't Changing; Global ... Other Arguments It's Time to End for Good
by Seth B. Darling (Author), Douglas L. Sisterson (Author)


The essential climate-debate handbook—everything you need to know about climate science to change minds

Have you ever heard someone say that climate change is simply the result of natural cycles? Or that there can’t be global warming because it still gets so cold out? While the claims climate-change deniers make can seem, on their surface, quite plausible, they simply don’t hold up against the evidence: Beyond a shadow of a doubt, science proves that climate change is real and primarily human-driven. But the next time a skeptic puts you on the spot, will you know what to say to end the argument?

How to Change Minds About Our Changing Climate dismantles all the most pernicious misunderstandings using the strongest explanations science has to offer. Armed with...

Climate Change: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

Climate Change: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
by Mark Maslin (Author)


Climate change is still, arguably, the most critical and controversial issue facing the world in the twenty-first century. Previously published as Global Warming: A Very Short Introduction, the new edition has been renamed Climate Change: A Very Short introduction, to reflect the important change in the terminology of the last decade.

In the third edition, Mark Maslin includes crucial updates from the last few years, including the results of the 2013 IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, the effects of ocean acidification, and the impact of changes to global population and health. Exploring key topics in the debate, Maslin makes sense of the complexities of climate change, from political and social issues to environmental and scientific ones. Looking at its predicated impacts, he explores...

Climate Changed: A Personal Journey through the Science

Climate Changed: A Personal Journey through the Science
by Philippe Squarzoni (Author)


What are the causes and consequences of climate change? When the scale is so big, can an individual make any difference? Documentary, diary, and masterwork graphic novel, this up-to-date look at our planet and how we live on it explains what global warming is all about. With the most complicated concepts made clear in a feat of investigative journalism by artist Philippe Squarzoni, Climate Changed weaves together scientific research, extensive interviews with experts, and a call for action. Weighing the potential of some solutions and the false promises of others, this groundbreaking work provides a realistic, balanced view of the magnitude of the crisis that An Inconvenient Truth only touched on.

Climate Changed is printed on FSC-certified paper from responsibly-managed,...

Climate Change: Picturing the Science

Climate Change: Picturing the Science
by Gavin Schmidt (Author), Joshua Wolfe (Author), Jeffrey D. Sachs (Foreword)


An unprecedented union of scientific analysis and stunning photography illustrating the effects of climate change on the global ecosystem. Going beyond the headlines, this work by leading NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt and master photographer Joshua Wolfe illustrates as never before the ramifications of shifting climate. Photographic spreads show retreating glaciers, sinking villages in Alaska’s tundra, and drying lakes. The text follows adventurous scientists through the ice caps at the poles to the coral reefs of the tropical seas. Marshaling data spanning centuries and continents, the book sparkles with cutting-edge research and visual records, including contributions from experts on atmospheric science, oceanography, paleoclimatology, technology, politics, and the polar...

The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future

The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future
by Naomi Oreskes (Author), Erik M. Conway (Author)


The year is 2393, and the world is almost unrecognizable. Clear warnings of climate catastrophe went ignored for decades, leading to soaring temperatures, rising sea levels, widespread drought and--finally--the disaster now known as the Great Collapse of 2093, when the disintegration of the West Antarctica Ice Sheet led to mass migration and a complete reshuffling of the global order. Writing from the Second People's Republic of China on the 300th anniversary of the Great Collapse, a senior scholar presents a gripping and deeply disturbing account of how the children of the Enlightenment--the political and economic elites of the so-called advanced industrial societies--failed to act, and so brought about the collapse of Western civilization. In this haunting, provocative work of...

© 2014 BrightSurf.com