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Fossils are informing the future of conservation

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Fossils-are-informing-the-future-of-cons

The fossil record suggests specialist species are most vulnerable to dramatic ecological shifts, whether geologic and climatic in nature. Photo by Arjen de Ruiter/Shutterstock

BOULDER, Colo., Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Which species are worth saving? Which species will survive global warming? Which will thrive?

Conservationists are facing hard questions and tough decisions as they anticipate a warming climate. Some scientists are looking to the fossil record for help.

Recently, a team of paleontologists led by Alycia Stigall set out to mine the fossil record for clues as to the future challenges of conservation. Specifically, researchers wanted to know which species are most vulnerable to environmental shifts. To find out, scientists studied the effects of significant climatic and geologic shifts on biodiversity throughout evolutionary history.

Their analysis showed ecological changes mostly benefit generalist species, while hurting specialists.

Generalists are most successful among large landmasses, where they can spread out across a variety of environs and take advantage of an array of natural resources. Specialists thrive within regions with highly differentiated habitats. Through geologic time, the division of landmasses into smaller islands promoted specialization, while the adjoining of islands into larger landmasses benefited generalists.

Because specialists occupy small ecological niches, competing for slices of a relatively small resource pie, their presence corresponds with more rapid speciation and greater biodiversity.

The fossil record suggests shifts enabling the territorial expansion of generalists coincided with a reduction in speciation and biodiversity. Given the opportunity, generalists invade the niches of specialists and diminish biodiversity.

Naturally, generalists make for the most destructive invasive species. Unfortunately, ecologists expect global warming to encourage the spread of invasive species.

The new findings -- recently presented at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America -- suggest specialist species will need the most help surviving climate change.

"Places that are tropical and stable, regions that have similar climate year-round, will likely be impacted the most by invasive species," Stigall explained in a news release. "Data sets for modern species are usually limited in terms of the number of species and years available when talking about biodiversity, so hopefully we can use the fossil record to expand our knowledge and use the past to make informed decisions about the future."

 

http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2016/09/27/Fossils-are-informing-the-future-of-conservation/9631475010661/?spt=su&or=btn_fb

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Barerootbonsai

Good luck to them. Unrealistic but best thing would be to remove the human race.  

 

We we never learn.

 

:(

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tmaier

This isn't new, the idea that generalist species are more survivable than other species.

When humans move in to an environment and radically re-arrange it, you see a crash of the ecosystem and survival of the generalists that can survive on many alternative sources of food and shelter. Some of the succesful survivalists are racoon and blackbird, creatures and plants that can make do with what they find remaining.

A specialist species has climbed out on an evolutionary limb in pursuit of some resource, and this makes them vulerable to having the limb break, and they go extinct. Sometimes evolution is a bad thing. :)



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ashcraft

Ashcraft's Rule of Life #5-specialization leads to extinction.  Panda's became doomed the second they specialized on bamboo.  So......climate changes and bamboo forests are wiped out for whatever reason, do we save the Pandas?  Do we apply criteria, if it is a natural change, they can go extinct, but if it is caused by man (even if we are a natural force), then we save them?  Or do we realize that the stem of the lineage (generalist bears) are still around, so the genetics are largely preserved.

 

If they only looked like rats, no one would care.

Brent Ashcraft

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tmaier

It doesn't look like people are going to stop the re-terraforming of the earth (and the resulting mass extinctions), so one thing we need to do is record what exists, including making a genetic store of life forms that are headed for extinction. Not just a acouple smaples, but enough diversity to possibly bring them back if that is desired in the future. And the storage location should be redundant, to avoid having all the genetic eggs in one basket.

A cryogenic Noah's ark...


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ashcraft
2 hours ago, tmaier said:

It doesn't look like people are going to stop the re-terraforming of the earth (and the resulting mass extinctions), so one thing we need to do is record what exists, including making a genetic store of life forms that are headed for extinction. Not just a acouple smaples, but enough diversity to possibly bring them back if that is desired in the future. And the storage location should be redundant, to avoid having all the genetic eggs in one basket.

A cryogenic Noah's ark...

 

So we should at some future point choose to bring back organisms based on what one individual or group decides should be allowed to live?  Is that any better then what you say is happening now?  I would hate to be some form of extinct mosquito, annoyance to me, food for others.  Since "I" am in charge though, it is my decision, and no sucky organisms will be allowed to live (or re-live in this case) in my world.  Probably should remove any extant organisms that I also find to not meet my personal standards.  coyotes aren't native to Missouri, they wake me up at night, so they should go.  But they were here in northern Missouri at one time probably, during the extension of the Prairie Peninsula and maybe all the way here to the bootheel, during the hypsithermal event, which was only a few thousand years ago..... so maybe they do belong here, but red wolves will kill coyotes if they are brought back, and red wolves were here when the Europeans arrived.......but they both will kill children so I don't really want them in my backyard, but maybe over on my neighbor's property will be okay.  But no snakes can ever be brought back because they give me the heebie-jeebies.  And whomever allowed high school sophomores to invade into this area, well they are just wrong where-ever they are found.

 

The highway to Alternative School is paved with good intentions.

 

Brent Ashcraft

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Anchiornis
On 9/29/2016 at 9:42 AM, tmaier said:

It doesn't look like people are going to stop the re-terraforming of the earth (and the resulting mass extinctions), so one thing we need to do is record what exists, including making a genetic store of life forms that are headed for extinction. Not just a acouple smaples, but enough diversity to possibly bring them back if that is desired in the future. And the storage location should be redundant, to avoid having all the genetic eggs in one basket.

A cryogenic Noah's ark...

 

There are in fact several secret facilities just like the one you described at certain locations around the world; one is located in a secret lab under the San Diego Zoo! In fact, the San Diego Zoo one contains the cells of an extinct Hawaiian honeycreeper.

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