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Climate change taking place 10,000 times faster than evolution

Last Updated: Friday, July 19, 2013 - 15:53

Washington: Evolution is not being able to keep up pace with climate change, researchers have claimed.

John Wiens, an ecology and evolutionary biology professor at the University of Arizona, and Ignacio Quintero, said that most of the vertebrates will have to speed up their evolution rate 10,000 times to match the rate of global warming, Discovery News reported.

He and his team looked at 17 groups of animals, consisting of 540 species, including amphibians, birds, reptile and mammals, to determine their adaptation to climate changes in the past.

They team analysed, based on the genetic data, when the species split into new species and made comparison of that to climate changes in the niches where they lived at those times in geological history.

The researchers found that the species is only capable of handling a global temperature change of about one degree centigrade per million years.

Evolutionary biologist Robert Holt of the University of Florida, said that the rate of evolution of a specific group of animals in all probability has much to do with how big a genetic tool, or flexibility for development of new traits, a species has to work with.

Holt said that even if some species have the genetic variation, it may not be enough.

He said that the rate of population decline could still be so high that extinction can`t be avoided.

He added that it was true of species, which are already small in numbers.

The findings have been published in the journal Ecology Letters.


First Published: Friday, July 19, 2013 - 15:52

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