Posted: 18 July 2016
The theory is well documented on islands across the globe, and Dr Loader and his colleagues investigated whether this could be a way to explain how and why some new species evolve on large landmasses such as Africa.
Ecological Opportunity is a key theory in evolutionary biology, which seeks to explain why in some places, especially on islands, some species not only seem to evolve and diversify into more species but also spread more rapidly than in other places. Ecological Opportunity also suggests that when a species arrives into a new area where there are no other competing species, it will quickly fill that ecological space, and over time produce a rapid radiation of many species living in many different habitats.
Dr Simon Loader said, “Using genetic sequencing we were able to peer back over the last 30 million years, and discover the evolutionary patterns of toads in Africa. Were they able to take advantage of this new environment which might be indicative of an area without competitors?”
Dr Loader and his team used genetic sequencing data from 591 samples of toads to work out evolutionary relationships between each organism, carrying out the most complete DNA study of African toads to date. Dr Loaders work suggests Ecological Opportunity most likely didn’t exist for toads, saying “It seems that due to the size, ecological diversity of habitats and the age of the African landmasses, the species diversification processes might be more complex than the Ecological Opportunity theory suggests. We think this could be typical of large geographical areas but this requires further testing in other animals and plants to better understand such a question.”
Read the full article published in Evolution: The International Journal of Organic Evolution.
Biomechanics expert reveals secret behind Usain Bolt’s sprinting success
Biomechanics expert reveals the science behind Usain Bolt’s sprinting success as eleven-time World Champion and eight-time Olympic gold medallist in Times Sport.
Posted: 2 October 2017
Local communities in East Africa to benefit from coastal heritage sites
Professor Garry Marvin from the University of Roehampton’s Department of Life Sciences is using his expertise to support a £2 million research project to help East African communities better understand and benefit from marine cultural heritage. To support the project, the University is offering four East African students PhD scholarships.
Posted: 13 September 2017
Department of Life Sciences collaborates with NHS patients in garden project
The Department of Life Sciences is collaborating with NHS patients as part of a gardening programme taking place on campus this summer.
Posted: 30 August 2017