Nav: Home

New keys to keeping a diverse planet

September 26, 2007

Variation in plants and animals gives us a rich and robust assemblage of foods, medicines, industrial materials and recreation activities. But human activities are eliminating biological diversity at an unprecedented rate.

A new UC Davis study offers clues to how these losses relate to one another -- information that is essential as scientists and land managers strive to protect the remaining natural variation.

Sharon Strauss, a professor of evolution and ecology, and former doctoral student Richard Lankau (now a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and the University of Illinois), studied competition among genetically varied plants of one species (black mustard, Brassica nigra), and among black mustard and plants of other species.

"This is one of the first studies to show that genetic diversity and species diversity depend on each other," Lankau said. "Diversity within a species is necessary to maintain diversity among species, and at the same time, diversity among species is necessary to maintain diversity within a species.

"And if any one type is removed from the system, the cycle can break down, and the community becomes dominated by a single species."

-end-

[Editor's note: A high-resolution photo of bright yellow flowers (black mustard) against blue sky is available from Sylvia Wright, swright@ucdavis.edu.]

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation. The paper, titled "Mutual feedbacks maintain both genetic and species diversity in a plant community," was published in the Sept. 14 issue of the journal Science.

The Strauss-Lankau paper is one of three papers by researchers in the UC Davis Graduate Group in Ecology that have recently been published in Science, Nature and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

UC Davis graduate programs in ecology and evolutionary biology are among the best in the nation, and were ranked first in 2007 by U.S. News & World Report.

Additional information: Media contact:
Sylvia Wright, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-7704, swright@ucdavis.edu

University of California - Davis
Prebiotic evolution: Hairpins help each other out
The evolution of cells and organisms is thought to have been preceded by a phase in which informational molecules like DNA could be replicated selectively.
How to be a winner in the game of evolution
A new study by University of Arizona biologists helps explain why different groups of animals differ dramatically in their number of species, and how this is related to differences in their body forms and ways of life.
The galloping evolution in seahorses
A genome project, comprising six evolutionary biologists from Professor Axel Meyer's research team from Konstanz and researchers from China and Singapore, sequenced and analyzed the genome of the tiger tail seahorse.
Fast evolution affects everyone, everywhere
Rapid evolution of other species happens all around us all the time -- and many of the most extreme examples are associated with human influences.
Landscape evolution and hazards
Landscapes are formed by a combination of uplift and erosion.
New insight into enzyme evolution
How enzymes -- the biological proteins that act as catalysts and help complex reactions occur -- are 'tuned' to work at a particular temperature is described in new research from groups in New Zealand and the UK, including the University of Bristol.
The evolution of Dark-fly
On Nov. 11, 1954, Syuiti Mori turned out the lights on a small group of fruit flies.
A look into the evolution of the eye
A team of researchers, among them a zoologist from the University of Cologne, has succeeded in reconstructing a 160 million year old compound eye of a fossil crustacean found in southeastern France visible.
Is evolution more intelligent than we thought?
Evolution may be more intelligent than we thought, according to a University of Southampton professor.
The evolution of antievolution policies
Organized opposition to the teaching of evolution in public schoolsin the United States began in the 1920s, leading to the famous Scopes Monkey trial.

Best Science Podcasts 2017

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2017. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.

Now Playing: Radiolab

Truth Trolls
Today, a third story of folks relentlessly searching for the truth. But this time, the truth seekers are an unlikely bunch... internet trolls.


Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking School
For most of modern history, humans have placed smaller humans in institutions called schools. But what parts of this model still work? And what must change? This hour, TED speakers rethink education.TED speakers include teacher Tyler DeWitt, social entrepreneur Sal Khan, international education expert Andreas Schleicher, and educator Linda Cliatt-Wayman.