Surprise Result: Increasing Dispersal Increases Ecological Diversity

By Kathy Keatley Garvey

A study of microbes that live in the nectar of flowers has turned up an unexpected result that challenges a common assumption in ecology.

It’s been widely assumed that the more easily organisms can disperse between habitats, the more similar the mix of species in those habitats will be.

Sticky Monkeyflower

The flowers of Sticky Monkeyflower contain a mix of microbes that live on nectar. A new study shows how microbial diversity changes between flowers. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Letters to Darwin mark bicentenary

To mark the bicentenary of Charles Darwin’s birth, we asked some UC Davis scientists who study evolution what they would say if they had the opportunity to write a letter to the naturalist. The results are featured on the campus home page today.

Mathematical geneticist Graham Coop regales Darwin with the tale of a gene that links stickleback fish directly to humans.

Geneticist David Begun confides that he and other modern-day scientists still share the sense of wonder that Darwin expressed when he wrote, “ … from so simple a beginning, endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.”