Monday, May 21, 2007

Dani's New & Hot (Week 8)

The complete article for my New & Hot can be found here.

This picture is just a random picture I found on the web. I thought it was cool :)

The article is entitled "Climate Change Also Drives Evolution," and it talks about how animals are having to adapt more rapidly because of the effects on climate & environment due to human causes. The article brings up 3 specific examples. The first is that codfish are not reaching sexual maturity earlier than before due to human fishing practices. The main point is that if you're a codfish and you wait until you get really big to procreate, then chances are, it'll be too'll be on someone's dinner plate first. Thus, now, codfish reach sexual maturity at around 6 years, instead of 10 years. This change took about 40 years to occur in codfish populations, but a similar phenomenon can be observed in guppy populations within only 5 years. Research has shown that "if the oldest guppies are retired from a population, their sexual places are occupied by younger exemplars."

Also, different species of birds are now observed in new, previously thought less-than-optimal environments. The white-tailed eagle provides one example. About 15 years ago, it was believed that this bird could only live in the large forests of Central Europe. However, recently, the white-tailed eagle has been found in Northern Germany, Poland, and Scandanavia.

Thus, the world's biodiversity is adapting to an environment influenced by human factors. In some cases the result is depressing, with ~150 species dying off each day, but in other cases, the result is more hopeful, particularly when species are able to adapt more rapidly. However, is rapid adaptation beneficial to the species in the long run?

1 comment:

chickenpox said...

That's so interesting! I agree that humans having such direct influence on the adaptation of species is also troubling, but something that can't really be avoided. Actually, this is really cool because it's another example of Darwin's natural selection in action and it's taking place at a rate that we can actually observe.