Thursday, August 04, 2005

[geek] 30-second science blogging - Alien invaders create new species

Before you think I've gotten all 'Area 51'/Weekly World News on you, listen to this - a non-native plant in North America has created a new ecological niche, becoming a de facto native species; a new species has stepped in to fill that niche:
The tephritid fruit fly loves this kind of plant. In fact, there's a fly species specifically adapted to exploit each species of berry-producing plants. For instance, the blueberry fly goes through its entire life cycle on blueberry bushes. It can't live on any other type of plant. That's how the fly-plant relationship has evolved naturally. The Japanese honeysuckle also has its fly. But that fly didn't originate with the plant. A Pennsylvania State University research team traced its ancestry to a hybrid produced by flies that live on blueberry and snowberry plants, respectively. Normally, such a hybrid fly strain would die out. It can't compete with either of its parent species on their host plants. Honeysuckle offered a niche with no such competition where the hybrid became a new species. The family outcast found an empty house on the block and moved in.
How cool is that? Too bad our President doesn't read the newspaper... Tidbits like this might force him to acknowldge that there is no debate over evolution.


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