New evidence uncovered by oceanographers challenges one of the most long-standing theories about how species evolve in the oceans. Most scientists believe that allopatric speciation, where different species arise from an ancestral species only after breeding populations have become physically isolated from each other, is the dominant mode of speciation both on land and in the sea. The key to this theory is the existence of some kind of physical barrier that operates to restrict interbreeding (gene flow) between populations so that, given enough time, such populations diverge until they're considered separate species.
Sexton and Norris' findings augment a growing body of evidence which support the idea that sympatric speciation, where different species arise from a parent species without the presence of physical barriers, is more common than previously thought. In this mode of speciation, the necessary isolation might instead be achieved through shifts in the timing or depth of reproduction. However, until more research offers a clearer picture of how speciation occurs in the oceans, Sexton and Norris' contention that sympatric and other similar processes are the "prevalent modes of marine speciation" will, no doubt, remain at odds with prevailing theories.
A team of scientists from the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has reported a rapid recovery of coral reefs in areas of Indonesia, following the tsunami that devastated coastal regions throughout the Indian Ocean on December 26, 2004.
The critically endangered Tristan albatross (Diomedea dabbenena) has suffered its worst breeding season ever, according to research by the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK). The number of chicks making it through to fledging has decreased rapidly, and it is now five times lower than it should be because introduced predatory mice are eating the chicks alive on Gough island -- the bird's only home and a South Atlantic territory of the United Kingdom.
Acorn squash and other winter squashes at your local supermarket likely got their start months ago, when their colorful blossoms were pollinated by hardworking bees.
Anton, a hard white winter wheat cultivar developed by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and University of Nebraska (UN) scientists, is now available for production in the Northern Plains region as a source of high-quality flour for bread, noodles and other baked goods.
The Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society has just announced that its efforts to protect a wildlife-rich coastal region in South America have paid off in the form of a new coastal marine park recently signed into law by the Government of Argentina.