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Posted Fri Sep 3 2010: from PhysOrg:
Rolling the dice with evolution: Massive extinction will have unpredictable consequences
New research by Macquarie University palaeobiologist, Dr John Alroy, predicts major changes to the rules of evolution as we understand them now. Those changes will have serious consequences for future biodiversity because no one can predict which groups will come to dominate after the current mass extinction..... Thus, a group's average rate of diversification or branching into new species in the past is not a good predictor of how well it will fare after a mass extinction event.... Organisms that might have adapted in the past may not be able to this time, he said. "You may end up with a dramatically altered sea floor because of changes in the dominance of major groups. That is, the extinction occurring now will overturn the balance of the marine groups." When there is a major mass extinction, it's not just a temporary drop in richness of species, he said. Alroy likens what is happening now to rolling the dice with evolution. "What's worrisome is that some groups permanently become dominant that otherwise wouldn't have. So by causing this extinction, we are taking a big gamble on what kind of species will be around in the future. We don't know how it will turn out. People don't realise that there will be very unpredictable consequences."
[Read more stories about: ecosystem interrelationships, sixth extinction, unintended consequences, hunting to extinction, holyshit]

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'Doc Michael says:
Snake eyes, when baby needs new shoes.
This is actually a huge concept -- we aren't just fucking up ecosystems, we are fucking up evolution. When we erase the cod, we're not letting the strong reproduce. We're altering the rules.

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