Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hamlet fish helps us understand speciation in marine environments

Scientist know very little about evolution within the Marine environment. New studies with Hamlet Fish may shine light on the process of how new species arise. Hamlet fish are a species of coral fish found in the Caribbean. So far, there are ten known species of Hamlet fish each with unique color patterns. Each species is found in their own regions of the Caribbean. Scientists use to believe that these species arose from geographical isolation, but new studies are not finding evidence of this. Using SCUBA methods, researchers are analyzing the distribution patterns of these Hamlet fish. They are finding that there are "hot spots" for each of the ten species. Some species have more than one hot spot, and many of these hot spots overlap which is not evidence for evolution by geographical isolation. These studies are also helping to understand how competition for space and food influence how these species exist together. These studies are finding that ecology, instead of geographical separation, may better explain the evolution of Hamlet fish. Many scientists also believe that Hamlets are in the process of evolving into a new species. These studies may help us understand this process.
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