Friday, October 06, 2006

 

Fossils pinpoint tropics as Earth's most fruitful biodiversity spawning ground

A team of scientists has completed a study that explains why the tropics are so much richer in biodiversity than higher latitudes. And they say that their work highlights the importance of preserving those species against extinction.

'If you came from outer space and you started randomly observing life on Earth, at least before people were here, the first thing you'd see was this incredible profusion of life in the tropics,' said the report's lead author, David Jablonski, the William Kenan Jr. Professor in Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago. 'This is the single most dramatic biodiversity pattern on this planet.'

Jablonski and his co-authors, Kaustuv Roy, of the University of California, San Diego, and James Valentine, of the University of California, Berkeley, present their new findings on the origins of this global diversity trend in the October 6 2005 issue of the journal Science.

Why the tropics are so much richer in species and evolutionary lineages than elsewhere on Earth has loomed as one of the largest questions facing biologists for more than a century. Biologists have proposed virtually every possible combination of origination, extinction and immigration to explain the pattern at one time or another.

...The fossil data of the past 11 million years has broken this logjam. [Evolution, Paleobiology, Palaeobiology, Lineage]

Continued at Fossils pinpoint tropics as Earth's most fruitful biodiversity spawning ground

Related news report "Tropics source of much of world's biodiversity"

Based on "Out of the Tropics: Evolutionary Dynamics of the Latitudinal Diversity Gradient" (Abstract)

David Jablonski is editor of the book "Evolutionary Paleobiology: In Honor of James W.Valentine" (Amazon UK | US)

Also reported in the Washington Post's 'Science Notebook' entry "Tropics Nurture Marine Species".

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