Climate change threatens hotspots of genetic diversity

Aug 01, 2013
Climate change threatens hotspots of genetic diversity
Grey long-eared bat, Plecotus austriacus, in flight. Credit: Antton Alberdi

(Phys.org) —Past climates shaped the current hotspots of genetic diversity for the grey long-eared bat, one of the UK's rarest mammals, but future climate change threatens these biodiversity hotspots, according to researchers from the University of Bristol, working in collaboration with scientists from the University of Sheffield and from across Europe.

This is particularly worrying because genetic diversity is important for the long-term survival of species and their ability to adapt to environmental changes.

The grey long-eared bat, Plecotus austriacus, is found in Europe and does not commonly disperse across far distances, and so is a good example of the potential effects of future climate change on many temperate European species.

Professor Gareth Jones from the University of Bristol said: "Although climate change has been recognised as a major threat to species, populations and communities of animals and plants, its consequences for genetic diversity have been neglected.

"By modelling the past and future, we show that genetic diversity is concentrated in southern Europe, where populations survived past glaciation events, but these areas are predicted to become too warm and arid for the under future climate change."

Dr Orly Razgour from the University of Bristol and University of Stirling added: "The ability of bats to move in pursuit of suitable climatic conditions may be limited by geographical barriers, like the Pyrenees mountain range, and by the loss of due to farming. This means that much of the grey long-eared bat's may be trapped inside Spain and Portugal.

"If the bats can't move north, they will need to adapt to the new warmer and more in order to survive, and our future study is looking at whether populations in warmer areas are already more adapted to warmer conditions."

Explore further: Dwindling wind may tip predator-prey balance

More information: Razgour, O. et al. The shaping of genetic variation in edge-of-range populations under past and future climate change, Ecology Letters. onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10… 1/ele.12158/abstract

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Climate change projected to alter Indiana bat maternity range

Jan 28, 2013

Research by US Forest Service scientists forecasts profound changes over the next 50 years in the summer range of the endangered Indiana bat. In an article published in the journal Ecology and Evolution, Forest Service Southe ...

Can Geckos get going?

Mar 21, 2013

(Phys.org) —New research from Macquarie University suggests that arid zone reptiles could struggle to find suitable homes as a result of human induced climate change.

Recommended for you

Dwindling wind may tip predator-prey balance

Sep 19, 2014

Bent and tossed by the wind, a field of soybean plants presents a challenge for an Asian lady beetle on the hunt for aphids. But what if the air—and the soybeans—were still?

Asian stars enlisted to fight African rhino poaching

Sep 19, 2014

Increasingly desperate South African conversationists are turning to a multi-national team of "rhino ambassadors" to try to end the scourge of poaching—and Vietnamese pop diva Hong Nhung has been recruited ...

Tropical fish a threat to Mediterranean Sea ecosystems

Sep 18, 2014

The tropical rabbitfish which have devastated algal forests in the eastern Mediterranean Sea pose a major threat to the entire Mediterranean basin if their distribution continues to expand as the climate ...

User comments : 0