A new method of tracking the health status of the world’s ecosystems has revealed how to measure changes in biodiversity and the spread of disease.
The results, published today in Science, could offer clues to the impact of climate change on biodiversity, and provide a benchmark to measure the extent to which humans are contributing to that change.
The research is led by David Pomerantz, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Oxford, and is based on a novel algorithm, based on the idea that species can become genetically similar in a way that makes them more likely to be eaten by other species.
The algorithm, which uses information about a species’ genetic structure, allows scientists to calculate how much each species’ genome has changed in the past decade.
This allows them to calculate a species’s genetic structure and how that has changed across its lifetime.
For instance, if a species has changed from having two eyes to one eye and from having one large intestine to one small intestine, its genetic structure is likely to change over the course of its life.
If a species evolved from having only two eyes, it may evolve to have two small intestines, but only one large intestinal.
Pomerantz and his colleagues analysed more than 5,000 species across all of the land and sea on Earth, including over 2,000 terrestrial and freshwater species, from the Arctic to the tropics.
They were able to calculate changes in the genetic structure of almost all of these species.
The team found that biodiversity hotspots are linked to genetic changes in both the population and the population structure of these animals.
The findings could also help scientists understand the role that environmental factors play in the spread and spread of infectious diseases.
“Our findings suggest that biodiversity could be affected by a range of factors, from climate change to the extent of human activity,” said Pomerants.
“We have to consider that some changes may have happened as a consequence of natural processes.”
The team also found that some species may be better at adapting to climate change.
“Our work shows that biodiversity can adapt to environmental changes, even if these are relatively small in scale, but they may not be particularly robust,” said lead author Simon Jones.
“It is possible that some traits may become more prevalent in a given environment, and that this may affect biodiversity overall.”
The research builds on a decade of research that has identified how biodiversity and biodiversity hotspot change can be influenced by species’ habitat, food availability and climate.
These findings were previously reported in a study by Pomeranz and colleagues.
The team identified seven factors that may influence biodiversity change: climate change, habitat change, climate variability, the abundance of species, climate and disease, and human activity.
The researchers say their work highlights the importance of identifying which species and their habitats are at risk of extinction, and how to identify hotspots where biodiversity is most vulnerable.
This study was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) under a grant from the British Council.
The study was also supported by a grant to Pomerans group from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Australia.###