Environmental change 'triggers rapid evolution'

Researchers were surprised how quickly the
 mites evolved as a result of environmental changes

Changes to their surroundings can trigger "rapid evolution" in species as they adopt traits to help them survive in the new conditions, a study shows.

Studying soil mites in a laboratory, researchers found that the invertebrates' age of maturity almost doubled in just 20-or-so generations.

It had been assumed that evolutionary change only occurred over a much longer timescale.

The findings have been published in the journal Ecology Letters.

"What this study shows for the first time is that evolution and ecology go hand-in-hand," explained co-author Tim Benton, professor of population ecology at the University of Leeds, UK.


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