Study: Climate change driving evolution

Dec. 1, 2011 at 3:54 PM

BRISTOL, England, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Climate change is causing some species to evolve and adapt to new habitats in England with many species moving north with global warming, researchers say.

The study by the Universities of Bristol and Sheffield has focused on the role of evolution in helping a species to successfully cope with ongoing climate change.

Species evolve in their ability to use geographically widespread habitats or develop increased ability to move longer distances to deal with changing climates, a Bristol release said Wednesday.

One species studied was the Brown Argus butterfly, which was found to be successfully expanding its distribution northwards and using a range of distinct habitats, researchers said.

Using genetic techniques to detect evolutionary change, the researchers determined the colonization of new sites further north by the butterfly has involved significant adaptation.

"To our knowledge, this is one of the first studies to identify genetic evidence for evolutionary change associated with range shifts driven by recent climate change," Bristol biologist James Buckley said.

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