VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Are we accelerating evolution and causing the extinction of relatively younger species?
New research from UBC explores what our meddling is meaning for local ecosystems.
Over three years, two species of stickleback fish went extinct in a lake near Nanaimo after the introduction of crayfish, but they left a new hybrid in their place, according to zoology researcher Seth Rudman, a co-author of a report published in the journal Current Biology.
“Mostly in evolution, people study of new species arising,” says Rudman. “This is sort of the inverse, where species can sort of hybrid and collapse in on themselves.”
In this case, the new hybrid prefers to eat large insects, so there are more small bugs flourishing around Enos Lake.
“There’s a tremendous amount of evidence that this plays important roles in a lot of species, particularly in Canada, lots of fish species, because they’re rather young species,” says Rudman.
Rudman says this process, called reverse speciation, is happening on a wider scale across our country and we must factor this in when considering how we plan conservation efforts.