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Understanding the many factors that have played into shaping the biodiversity within Earth's ecosystems can be daunting. In a major step to that end, an international team of researchers built a computer simulation that takes into account many of the fundamental factors that drive evolutionary adaptation and extinction.
Their study, published on July 20th in Science, brings us closer to knowing the complex interactions between topography and climate change, and how these factors influence the evolutionary histories and biodiversity of species in natural ecosystems.
Model - Researchers - University - Connecticut - Federal
The model created by researchers at the University of Connecticut, the Federal University of Goiás in Brazil, and The Open University in the U.K., details biogeographical cradles, museums, and graves. Cradles are areas where new species form; museums, areas where species persist; and graves, areas where extinctions take place.
"We had hoped to be able to model in the simulation the most fundamental processes that shape the geography of life on Earth," says Robert Colwell, emeritus professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Connecticut, who led the research with Brazilian colleague Thiago F. Rangel, in collaboration with Neil Edwards and Philip Holden in the UK.
Answers - Researchers - Continent - Earth - South
To find these answers, the researchers looked to the most climatically and biologically diverse continent on earth, South America, to develop and test their model. As the Andes mountain range began to develop 25 million years ago, it created a varied landscape that would give rise to a rich biodiversity, and the perfect setting to study the ecology and evolution of biodiversity.
"The Andes are the longest mountain range on Earth, and the only trans-tropical one. They sit right beside the Amazon, the planet's largest tropical rainforest and river basin. This is the reason South America has such exuberant biodiversity", says Rangel.
Collaborators - Open - University - Model - Climate
Collaborators at The Open University built a model of the ancient climate...
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