Sunday, 8 May 2016

Survival of the oldest: Why do some species make it when some don't?

Date: May 4, 2016
Source: BioMed Central

The oldest surviving species of vertebrates, such as the cane toad and the California sea lion, which have endured past extreme environmental events, will be more likely to adapt to future climate changes than younger species, such as the European hamster, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology. These species include those with various color morphs; those which give birth to live young; and/or which live at low latitudes.

Researchers from the University of Lausanne identified which factors render some species more vulnerable to extinction than others, and found that there are large differences in the ability of species to persist over evolutionary time scales. The researchers believe that their findings will be useful for conservationists and help them to predict which species are most at risk from climate change.

Dr. Sylvain Dubey, from University of Lausanne, one of the authors, said: "We have provided a complete picture of the factors shaping the resilience of species. Organisms that have persisted for a long time, and have survived across a wide range of environmental conditions, may be more likely to deal with future modifications of their environment. A recently evolved taxon, in contrast, would not have been tested to the same degree."

Dr Dubey added: "Looking at the history of species survival will help us to predict which ones could be better able to deal with current climate change and to better predict the threat status of species on the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)."


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