Museum samples of extinct butterfly populations show how populations rise and fall
|Museum samples of now extinct Glanville fritillary populations reveal that in an extremely |
fragmented environment even the fast evolution is not enough to save populations
from extinction [Credit: Niclas Fritzen]
Rapid environmental change continues to cause unprecedented losses in biodiversity. The new results show that species may become adapted to increasingly fragmented environments through natural selection on dispersal. In the present case, however, so much habitat was lost in the 20th century on the research area that the evolutionary change was not sufficient to rescue the species from extinction.
The study highlights the value of old museum collections as a resource for studying how populations and species respond to a rapidly changing world.
"Using museum samples allows us to go back in time to see how rapid environmental change affects the evolution of populations. This is particularly important for populations that have now gone extinct," says the lead author, Dr Toby Fountain from the Metapopulation Research Centre, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences.
The article has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Source: University of Helsinki [February 23, 2016]