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


Researchers prove accuracy of mobile phone population mapping
A study by an international team, including the University of Southampton, has shown population maps based on anonymous mobile phone call record data can be as accurate as those based on censuses.

UD study connects penguin chick weights to local weather conditions
Adélie penguins are an indigenous species of the West Antarctic Peninsula (WAP), one of the most rapidly warming areas on Earth. Since 1950, the average annual temperature in the Antarctic Peninsula has increased 2 degrees Celsius on average, and 6 degrees Celsius during winter.

Future-focused women stand up to global warming with taxes, checkbook
Politicians who discredit global warming risk losing a big chunk of the female vote. A new study found women who consider the long-term consequences of their actions are more likely to adopt a liberal political orientation and take consumer and political steps to reduce global warming.

Climate change impacts countered by stricter fisheries management
A new study has found that implementing stricter fisheries management overcame the expected detrimental effects of climate change disturbances in coral reef fisheries badly impacted by the 1997/98 El Niño, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.

New study finds options for climate change policy are well characterized
Policy options for climate change risk management are straightforward and have well understood strengths and weaknesses, according to a new study by the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Policy Program.

Past Climate Change Was Caused by the Ocean, Not Just the Atmosphere, New Rutgers Study Finds
Most of the concerns about climate change have focused on the amount of greenhouse gases that have been released into the atmosphere.

Turning waste from whisky-making into fuel -- Close to commercial reality?
A start-up company in Scotland is working to capitalize on the tons of waste produced by one of the country's most valued industries and turn the dregs of whisky-making into fuel.

New study shows that shifting precipitation patterns affect tea flavor, health compounds
A team of researchers including Montana State University professor Selena Ahmed has found that shifting patterns of precipitation affect key chemicals responsible for the flavor and health properties of tea.

Researchers resolve the Karakoram glacier anomaly, a cold case of climate science
Researchers from Princeton University and other institutions may have hit upon an answer to a climate-change puzzle that has eluded scientists for years, and that could help understand the future availability of water for hundreds of millions of people.

No-till agriculture may not bring hoped-for boost in global crop yields, study finds
No-till farming, a key conservation agriculture strategy that avoids conventional plowing and otherwise disturbing the soil, may not bring a hoped-for boost in crop yields in much of the world, according to an extensive new meta-analysis by an international team led by the University of California, Davis.
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...

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...

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...

Climate Change: What the Science Tells Us

Climate Change: What the Science Tells Us
by Charles Fletcher (Author)


Fletcher's 1st edition of "Climate Change: What the Science Tells Us" places strong emphasis on the peer-reviewed literature in reporting the impacts of climate change on the ocean, terrestrial ecosystems, the water cycle, human communities, dangerous weather patterns, and potential future Earth systems. The book offers detailed discussion of greenhouse gases, oceanic and atmospheric processes, Pleistocene and Holocene paleoclimate, the human fingerprints of climate change, modeling climate, sea level rise, climate impacts on economic sectors, and dangerous weather patterns associated with climate change.Fletcher offers the first real textbook to present the science surrounding climate change at the right level for an undergraduate student. His polished writing style makes this an...

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...

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....

Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle Against Climate Change Failed -- and What It Means for Our Future

Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle Against Climate Change Failed -- and What It Means for Our Future
by Dale Jamieson (Author)


From the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference there was a concerted international effort to stop climate change. Yet greenhouse gas emissions increased, atmospheric concentrations grew, and global warming became an observable fact of life.

In this book, philosopher Dale Jamieson explains what climate change is, why we have failed to stop it, and why it still matters what we do. Centered in philosophy, the volume also treats the scientific, historical, economic, and political dimensions of climate change. Our failure to prevent or even to respond significantly to climate change, Jamieson argues, reflects the impoverishment of our systems of practical reason, the paralysis of our politics, and the limits of our cognitive and affective capacities. The...

Climate Change 2013 - The Physical Science Basis: Working Group I Contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Climate Change 2013 - The Physical Science Basis: Working Group I Contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Editor)


This latest Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will again form the standard scientific reference for all those concerned with climate change and its consequences, including students and researchers in environmental science, meteorology, climatology, biology, ecology and atmospheric chemistry. It provides invaluable material for decision makers and stakeholders: international, national, local; and in all branches: government, businesses, and NGOs. This volume provides: • an authoritative and unbiased overview of the physical science basis of climate change; • a more extensive assessment of changes observed throughout the climate system than ever before; • new dedicated chapters on sea-level change, biogeochemical cycles, clouds and...

Climate Change: The Science of Global Warming and Our Energy Future

Climate Change: The Science of Global Warming and Our Energy Future
by Edmond A. Mathez (Author)


Climate Change is geared toward a variety of students and general readers who seek the real science behind global warming. Exquisitely illustrated, the text introduces the basic science underlying both the natural progress of climate change and the effect of human activity on the deteriorating health of our planet. Noted expert and author Edmond A. Mathez synthesizes the work of leading scholars in climatology and related fields, and he concludes with an extensive chapter on energy production, anchoring this volume in economic and technological realities and suggesting ways to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Climate Change opens with the climate system fundamentals: the workings of the atmosphere and ocean, their chemical interactions via the carbon cycle, and the scientific framework...

© 2014 BrightSurf.com