New Keys to Keeping a Diverse Planet

September 25, 2007

Variation in plants and animals gives us a rich and robust assemblage of foods, medicines, industrial materials and recreation activities. But human activities are eliminating biological diversity at an unprecedented rate.

A new UC Davis study offers clues to how these losses relate to one another -- information that is essential as scientists and land managers strive to protect the remaining natural variation.

Sharon Strauss, a professor of evolution and ecology, and former doctoral student Richard Lankau (now a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and the University of Illinois), studied competition among genetically varied plants of one species (black mustard, Brassica nigra), and among black mustard and plants of other species.

"This is one of the first studies to show that genetic diversity and species diversity depend on each other," Lankau said. "Diversity within a species is necessary to maintain diversity among species, and at the same time, diversity among species is necessary to maintain diversity within a species.

"And if any one type is removed from the system, the cycle can break down, and the community becomes dominated by a single species."

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation. The paper, titled "Mutual feedbacks maintain both genetic and species diversity in a plant community," was published in the Sept. 14 issue of the journal Science.

The Strauss-Lankau paper is one of three papers by researchers in the UC Davis Graduate Group in Ecology that have recently been published in Science, Nature and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Source: UC Davis

Explore further: Ag secretary promises more sage grouse spending across West

Related Stories

Ag secretary promises more sage grouse spending across West

August 27, 2015

The federal government plans to spend more than $200 million over the next three years on programs to protect greater sage grouse in Western states—regardless of whether the bird receives federal protections, U.S. Agriculture ...

Fire damage to soils sets back bushfire recovery

August 25, 2015

Soils in areas hit by bushfires like the Sampson Flat fire may take several years to recover, say University of Adelaide soil scientists starting a new study into the effects of bushfires on soils.

Evidence of species loss in Amazon

August 24, 2015

Researchers studying plants, ants, birds, dung beetles and orchid bees in the Brazilian Amazon have found clear evidence that deforestation causes drastic loss of tropical forest biodiversity.

Antarctica may hold the key to regulating mining in space

August 10, 2015

Our current era may go down in history as the century of space exploration and off-Earth resource exploitation. But there are still considerable policy hurdles to overcome in terms of how we regulate such activities.

Recommended for you

Which insects are the best pollinators?

September 3, 2015

Bees top the charts for pollination success according to one of the first studies of insect functionality within pollination networks, published today by researchers at the University of Bristol and the University of St Andrews.

For 2-D boron, it's all about that base

September 2, 2015

Rice University scientists have theoretically determined that the properties of atom-thick sheets of boron depend on where those atoms land.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.