PARIS: What if an age-old solution could help protect endangered species?
That’s what a new study conducted by researchers in Australia suggests. The idea involves mixing between species to enable them to better resist the impacts of climate change.
The idea is to reduce the risk of the extinction of species threatened by climate change through natural hybridisation.
In other words, the reproduction of two living organisms resulting in the crossing of two species to form a hybrid, a technique long used in the plant world.
It is precisely this process that biologists from Flinders University (Adelaide, Australia) have studied, in order to determine whether it could represent an additional solution to reduce the vulnerability of species to rapid climate change.
Published in the journal Nature Climate Change, their research was conducted in the Wet Tropics region of north-eastern Australia.
Scientists sampled five species of tropical rainbowfish, hoping to identify genes that would allow these creatures to withstand climate variations in their native region.
The authors also used environmental models to determine the degree of evolution needed for these fish to adapt to future climate change.
During the course of their research, the scientists found that rainbowfish populations adapted to cold environments are likely to be more resilient to potential future climate variations when they bred with another rainbowfish species that is more resistant to warm climates.
“These mixed populations contain more diversity at genes we think are important for climate adaptation, and are therefore more likely to persist in warmer environments,” the researchers explain in a news release.
“Our findings are good news for biodiversity. They indicate that genetic mixing is an important tool for conservation that can contribute to natural evolutionary rescue of species threatened by climate change,” concludes Flinders University professor, Luciano Beheregaray.