100 million year study shows a sheltered start breeds evolutionary success

Jun 03, 2014 by Cynthia Riginos
100 million year study shows a sheltered start breeds evolutionary success
Wideband anemonefish from the Solitary Islands, Australia, tending eggs. Credit: Ian Shaw.

Research into reef fish species diversity will provide conservationists with new information to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

University of Queensland researchers who looked at patterns through fish family trees for the past 100 million years have found that parents who guarded their young were more likely to yield .

The study's lead author, Dr Cynthia Riginos from UQ's School of Biological Sciences, said the discovery would help protect reefs as it provided an insight into ecosystem connections.

"We compared egg-guarding with those that release eggs into the water column after fertilisation," Dr Riginos said.

"We found that fish hatched from guarded eggs settled closer to home than those from floating eggs, and were more likely to yield new species in the long term.

"However, egg-guarding fish species are more vulnerable to threats in the short term as they are less connected to other populations."

Dr Riginos said identifying and protecting key areas would be critical for the long-term survival of tropical marine biodiversity.

"This research provides an important evaluation of how different species move between separate reefs," she said.

"Existing theories and tools for designing marine reserves suffer from a lack of information about how marine larvae move among reefs.

"These findings will help us to fine tune assessments of the connections between reefs, such as those of the Great Barrier Reef, with the aim of identifying critical areas for conservation and determining the different management strategies which are most suited for different species."

The research is published online in American Naturalist.

Explore further: New biodiversity study throws out controversial scientific theory

More information: "Dispersal Capacity Predicts Both Population Genetic Structure and Species Richness in Reef Fishes." Cynthia Riginos, Yvonne M. Buckley, Simon P. Blomberg and Eric A. Treml, The American Naturalist, Ahead of Print, p. 000. Published by: The University of Chicago Press. Article Stable URL: www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/676505

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Artificial reef in Red sea teems with life

Aug 20, 2013

In 2007, an artificial reef designed by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers was placed in the Gulf of Eilat to reduce environmental pressure on the region's natural reef. Now teeming with ...

Reef fish arrived in two waves

Apr 10, 2014

(Phys.org) —The world's reefs are hotbeds of biological diversity, including over 4,500 species of fish. A new study shows that the ancestors of these fish colonized reefs in two distinct waves, before ...

Recommended for you

Evolution of competitiveness

Oct 29, 2014

Virtually all organisms in the living world compete with members of their own species. However, individuals differ strongly in how much they invest into their competitive ability. Some individuals are highly competitive and ...

Status shift for whale pelvic bones

Oct 29, 2014

For decades, scientists assumed that the relatively small pelvic bones found in whales were simple remnants of their land-dwelling past, "useless vestiges" that served no real purpose, akin to the human appendix ...

Is the outcome of evolution predictable?

Oct 28, 2014

If one would rewind the tape of life, would evolution result in the same outcome? The Harvard evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould came up with this famous thought experiment. He suggested that evolution would not repeat ...

How did complex life evolve? The answer could be inside out

Oct 27, 2014

A new idea about the origin of complex life turns current theories inside out. In the open access journal BMC Biology, cousins Buzz and David Baum explain their 'inside-out' theory of how eukaryotic cells, which all multic ...

User comments : 0

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.