In “Coping With Climate Change: Can We Predict Which Species Will Be Able to Move Far or Fast Enough to Adapt?” (ScienceDaily, June 4, 2011), we learn:
As global temperatures rise, suitable sites for many plants and animals are shifting to cooler and higher ground. Can we predict which species will be able to move far or fast enough to keep up? A new study says the secrets to success in the face of a warming world are still elusive.
[ … ]
But when researchers working at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis took a closer look at recent range shifts, they noticed a peculiar pattern: some species are migrating much farther and faster than others.
What chance this fact can be used to predict rates of evolution? For example,
The species quickest to expand their range should be those that reproduce the fastest, disperse the farthest, and are the least picky about food, shelter, or mates, models predict.
But that turned out to be hard to predict, so
One possibility is that the traits that really matter for a species’ ability to move to more suitable sites — such as temperature tolerance — are difficult to measure or find a proxy for, the authors argue.
Well, at least they are trying to focus on the right questions, instead of making up stories about “what, evolutionarily speaking, would have produced fitness.”
File under: Real science opportunity.