Saturday, 8 September 2012

New study: Global warming increases biodiversity

"A big surprise" - A warmer Earth increases biodiversity

Global  warming increases biodiversity. That is the main finding -"a big surprise" - of a new report by a group led by University of York evolutionary ecologist Peter Mayhew:  

Rather than kicking off the expected cycles of extinction, periods of warming in Earth's history were accompanied by increased biodiversity, according to a report published this week.
Researchers examined the number of known families of marine invertebrates, as well as sea-surface temperatures, over the course of 540 million years of Earth's history. They found that when temperatures were high, so was biodiversity. When temperatures fell, biodiversity also declined.
Even so, given that climate change is generally viewed as disruptive, Mayhew admits it was a "big surprise" to find that eras of warming were accompanied by increases in biodiversity. The work also provided a solution to another puzzle, Mayhew says. Tropical ecosystems are known to be Earth's most diverse, and the tropics would be expected to expand during warm eras. Yet in the past these eras were thought to be species-poor compared with cooler ones. The new results resolve that contradiction.

Warming produces both extinctions and originations, and in the past the originations of new species have outstripped the loss of old ones, says Mayhew.
Knowing that the new findings will not be well received by the global warming alarmist community, it is not surprising that Mayhew adds a caveat: 
"The rate of change is very important," Mayhew says. For diversity to rise, he explains, new species need to evolve. And that takes between thousands and millions of years — much slower than the rate at which extinctions are likely to occur with today's rapid change.
Read the entire article in the journal Nature here
(image wikipedia)


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