Thursday, September 07, 2006

 

Scientist's persistence sheds light on marine science riddle (The 'Island Rule')

Philadelphia - When he started compiling an online database of seashells 15 years ago, Dr. Gary Rosenberg did not envision that his meticulous record-keeping would eventually shed light on a 40-year-old evolutionary debate.

The debate involves the mechanism underlying the island rule: that small animals isolated on islands evolve to be larger than their mainland relatives, and large animals evolve to be smaller. In a paper to be published in September in the Journal of Biogeography, 'The Island Rule and the Evolution of Body Size in the Deep Sea,' Rosenberg and his co-authors apply the island rule to deep-sea animals using Rosenberg's detailed database of marine snails. They find a similar pattern: when species colonize the deep sea, large-bodied species become smaller and small-bodied species become larger. [News: Marine Science Riddle]
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"The Island Rule and the Evolution of Body Size in the Deep Sea" is an open access paper.

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