Madrid 26 May (EUROPE PRESS) –
River erosion may be a driver of species diversity in tectonically inactive regions, according to a study published in Science by MIT.
They make their case in the southern Appalachians, and specifically in the Tennessee River Basin, an area known for its great diversity of freshwater fish. The team found that as rivers eroded through different areas of rock, the changing landscape pushed fish species known as green spike into different tributary river networks. Over time these separate nations developed into their own lines.
The team speculates that erosion likely led to the green drive to diversify. Although outwardly they appear to be separate races, with their distinctive green-tinted fins and green-finned fins, they differ substantially in terms of their genetic make-up. For now, each country is classified as a single species.
“Give this time the erosion process, and I think these separate lines become different species,” says Maya Stokes, who did some of the work as a student in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.
The green-finned provolata may not be the only species that can affect river erosion. The researchers suspect that erosion may have led many other species to diversify throughout the basin and possibly in other tectonically inactive regions around the world.
“If we can understand the geological factors that contribute to biodiversity, we can do a better job of conserving it,” Taylor Perron, professor of Earth, atmospheric, and planetary sciences at MIT, says in a statement.