Friday, August 11, 2006

 

Mussels evolve quickly to defend against invasive crabs

Invasive Crab Species And Blue Mussels Evolution Research

Durham, N.H. - Scientists at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) have found that invasive crab species may precipitate evolutionary change in blue mussels in as little as 15 years. The study, by UNH graduate student Aaren Freeman with associate professor of zoology James Byers and published in the Aug. 11 issue of the journal Science, indicates that such a response can evolve in an evolutionary nanosecond compared to the thousands of years previously assumed. The paper is called "Divergent induced responses to an invasive predator in marine mussel populations." (Abstract)

"It's the blending of ecological and evolutionary time," says Freeman, a Ph.D. candidate in the department of zoology. "It's an important development in the arms race between these crabs and these mollusks." Crabs prey on blue mussels by crushing their shells. [Evolution]

Original UNH Report here (contains a link to larger image than above)

Also carried by this week's Washington Post 'Science Notebook' under the title "Mussels Quickly Evolved To Foil a New Predator Crab".

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