• Sweden edition
 
Swedish-led team 'rewrites' Amazon history

Swedish-led team 'rewrites' Amazon history

Published: 01 Dec 2010 12:30 GMT+01:00
Updated: 01 Dec 2010 12:30 GMT+01:00

"With the results we present in this article, we've rewritten the entire history of Amazonia in terms of the development of its biodiversity," Alexandre Antonelli of the university's Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences and scientific curator at the Gothenburg Botanical Garden explained in a statement on the team's findings.

While researchers have long suspected that the diversity of the Amazonian rainforest was influenced by the Andes, the causal links have remained the subject of debate. The new findings put to rest a debate that has persisted over the last 40 years concerning the origins of the Amazon rainforest.

"This settles old debates and is the final say on this," Antonelli told The Local on Wednesday.

Brazilian native Antonelli and Carin Hoorn of the University of Amsterdam led the team, which compared over the last year and a half the pattern of modern biodiversity in the Amazon with geological and molecular data spanning the last 65 million years following the separation of South America from Africa and the extinction of the dinosaurs.

"We suspected from some scattered fossils and dated species trees that the Amazonian diversity arose after the separation from Africa, so we looked at the whole period," explained Antonelli.

Antonelli focused his research on coordinating a survey of DNA-based studies of relationships between plants and animals and came up with some interesting results.

"We've examined hundreds of scientific publications and have found that very few of the genera are as young as people thought."

Previously, the one dominating theory, the refuge theory, attributed the Ice Age to the region's high diversity, he told The Local.

The results of the research show that the greatest biodiversity is found in connection with the Andes, an area that formed when the tectonic plates along the Pacific coast were pressed together to create the mountain range.

The new mountains had a major impact on the environment, changing living conditions fundamentally for plants and animals in the Amazon rainforest, Antonelli said.

The restructuring of the earth's crust changed the large wetland areas found in the northern part of South America, which dried up as the Amazon River formed. In turn, this opened up new land for colonisation by plants and animals.

"We were surprised that there was such a strong link between the formation of the Andes and the diversity in Amazonia. The area was considered a kind of paradise where evolution could take place undisturbed, but this hasn't been the case at all – a lot has happened in the region," said Antonelli.

Antonelli's team included 18 researchers from the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, the UK, Sweden, Brazil, Colombia, Panama, Venezuela and the US from various disciplines, including molecular biology, geology, paleontology, zoology and statistics.

The fossils from 55 million years ago revealed that the region was much more diverse then than it is now.

"Species go extinct. They do that all the time, but they are replaced by new species. We do know there has been a lot of extinction and habitat destruction, but extinction rates are much higher now than they've ever been as a result of human influence excluding mass extinction events," Antonelli told The Local.

He hopes his findings will help aid in focussing on preservation efforts, particularly in western Amazonia, which is very overlooked.

Vivian Tse (vivian.tse@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

12:14 December 2, 2010 by Argentina84
Very interesting! =)
Today's headlines
Grounded flights strand Swedes in Tel Aviv
Photo: Matt Rourke/TT

Grounded flights strand Swedes in Tel Aviv

UPDATE: About 270 passengers planning to fly to Stockholm are still stranded in Tel Aviv, and airlines have stated that flights will likely be grounded on Thursday as well. READ  

The Local List
Top ten: Swedish taboos
The butter knife is for butter. Photo: Mats Sandelin/TT

Top ten: Swedish taboos

From standing in line to taking your hols in the off-season, Sweden is a society with customs and faux pas, the Danes might say taboos. Here is a list of ten to watch out for. READ  

Fears mount for Swede kidnapped in Ukraine
A tank in Horlivka. Photo: Dmitry Lovetsky/TT

Fears mount for Swede kidnapped in Ukraine

A mediator who handles prisoner exchanges between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels said on Wednesday that he feared for the life of a kidnapped Swede. READ  

Vattenfall cuts losses despite 'tough market'
Photo: TT

Vattenfall cuts losses despite 'tough market'

Swedish power group Vattenfall said on Wednesday that second quarter losses had been cut despite trying market conditions, forecasting that energy prices were unlikely to recover in the "foreseeable future". READ  

Swedes 'most beautiful' in the Nordics
Swedish actors Peter Johansson, Anna Sahlin and Måns Zelmerlöw. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

Swedes 'most beautiful' in the Nordics

Who is the fairest of them all? Swedes are, according to the rest of the Nordic nations in a recent survey. READ  

My Swedish Career
American teams up with Swede to beat cancer
Matthew Volsky holding the Gynocoular colposcope which is used for screening cervical cancer. Photo: Gynocoular

American teams up with Swede to beat cancer

When Matthew Volsky first came to Sweden he didn't think he would stick around. Six years and a pioneering invention later he tells The Local about the medical device which is helping save lives around the world. READ  

Swedish organic sales enjoy 'amazing' growth
Arla organic milk. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

Swedish organic sales enjoy 'amazing' growth

Swedes are spending more and more of their food budget on organic foodstuffs, with major supermarkets reporting double digit increases, according to new statistics. READ  

Swedish police warn of rogue pregnant cow
The cow pictured is not the one in the story, and presumably not cranky. Photo: Mike Groll/TT

Swedish police warn of rogue pregnant cow

Police in southern Sweden have issued a public warning about a pregnant cow on the loose, after two people were sent to the hospital after a hustle with the heifer. READ  

Sweden demands EU clarity on Bitcoin tax
Photo: Mark Lennihan/TT

Sweden demands EU clarity on Bitcoin tax

With EU countries' treatment of Bitcoin varying vastly, Sweden has asked for clear EU rules stipulating whether or not the cryptocurrency should be taxed. READ  

Google in failed bid for Sweden's Spotify
Photo: Spotify

Google in failed bid for Sweden's Spotify

US Internet giant Google tried last year to buy Sweden-based streaming music service Spotify, but pulled out due to the beefed-up price tag, according to a media report on Tuesday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Business & Money
Gallery
People-watching Båstad
Business & Money
Sweden falls to third in global innovation index
Society
Swedish ornithologists keep webcam watch
Blog updates

22 July

Det (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! “Det” is a personal pronoun that can be used in many ways, and it might me confusing if you always translate “det” to English “it”. In this article I will do my best to guide you to how to use “det”. Det replacing a word, a phrase or a clause Let us begin with the less confusing..." READ »

 

22 July

PROTECTING GIRLS FROM ABUSE OF THEIR RIGHTS (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"Today (22 July) my Prime Minister, David Cameron, and UNICEF, are hosting the world’s first #GirlSummit in London. The Summit’s aim is to mobilise domestic and international efforts to end the appalling practices of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Child Early Forced Marriage (CEFM). This is a high priority for the UK government and the Prime..." READ »

 
 
 
Photo: Andreas Nordström/Image Bank Sweden
Gallery
Top ten Swedish beach hot spots
Tech
Swedish Wiki vet sets new content record
Photo: Fastighetsbyrån
Lifestyle
In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week
Photo: Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching July 15-16
Photo: Ola Ericson/Image Bank Sweden
Society
What's On in Sweden
Photo: Lisa Mikulski
National
Hope springs eternal for expat pet shop owner
Gallery
Princess Estelle steals limelight at mum's birthday
National
Swedes risk infants' lives by covering up prams
National
Swede runs for office just using Bitcoin funds
Gallery
People-watching July 11-13
National
Malmö mayor slams Danish beggar ban
National
Swedish anti-abortion midwife sues county
National
Swede's salary chopped for Facebook use
National
Northern Sweden warmest in 90 years
Gallery
'Victoria Day': Crown Princess Victoria turns 37
Politics
Mona Sahlin to fight extremism in Sweden
National
EU tells Sweden to cover up snus flavours
Society
Swede snags assassin role in Tom Cruise film
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

702
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se