. Scientific Frontline: Ichthyology
Showing posts with label Ichthyology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ichthyology. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Range-shifting fishes are climate-change losers, according to new research

Pouting (Trisopterus luscus)
Photo Credit: Diego Delso

The warming of the Earth’s oceans due to climate change is affecting where the world’s fishes live, eat and spawn — and often in ways that can negatively impact their populations. That’s according to a new paper in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

The researchers write that populations that experience rapid-range shift decline noticeably, up to 50 per cent over a decade. The populations affected most are those living on the northern poleward edges of their species’ range.

“There is a conventional wisdom among many climate-change biologists that species that shift their ranges quickly by moving northward should provide a mechanism to sustain healthy populations — that shifting species should be climate-change winners. Our results show the exact opposite,” says paper co-author Jean-Philippe Lessard, a professor in the Department of Biology.

“Species that are shifting their range quickly experience little change in their population size in their core range. But some of them experience a major collapse in their populations at the northern edges.

“In fact, the population collapse is mostly driven by the northern poleward populations,” he adds. “We were expecting that many individuals from the core of the range would be moving up north due to climate change and maintain these northern populations. But the northern-edge populations are the ones most likely to collapse.”

Monday, March 4, 2024

Study of slowly evolving ‘living fossils’ reveals key genetic insights

The alligator gar, and other gar species, are “living fossils” that it shows little species diversity or physical differences from ancestors that lived tens of millions of years ago.
Photo Credit: David Solomon

In 1859, Charles Darwin coined the term “living fossils” to describe organisms that show little species diversity or physical differences from their ancestors in the fossil record. In a new study, Yale researchers provide the first evidence of a biological mechanism that explains how living fossils occur in nature.

The study, published in the journal Evolution, shows that gars — an ancient group of ray-finned fishes that fit the definition of a living fossil — have the slowest rate of molecular evolution among all jawed vertebrates, meaning their genome changes more slowly than those of other animals.

By linking this finding to the process of hybridization — when two different species produce viable offspring — of gar species in the wild that last shared common ancestry during the age of the dinosaurs, the researchers demonstrate that slow evolution rate of their genome drives their low species diversity.

“We show that gars’ slow rate of molecular evolution has stymied their rate of speciation,” said Thomas J. Near, professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the paper’s senior author. “Fundamentally, this is the first instance where science is showing that a lineage, through an intrinsic aspect of its biology, fits the criteria of living fossils.” 

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