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The Red Queen dilemma - can we run fast enough to stay in the same place?


Lefroy, EC, The Red Queen dilemma - can we run fast enough to stay in the same place?, Ryk Goddard, ABC Radio, Hobart (2017) [Media Interview]

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Two recent studies by Australian scientists raise questions about the capacity of humans to adapt to a changing world. Prof. Greta Pecl from UTAS led a study that illustrates how the movement of plants and animals in response to climate change is already affecting humans, from coffee drinkers to reindeer hunters and sparkling wine to mosquitos. They showed that plants and animals are moving an average 17km per decade away from the poles on land and 78 km in the oceans. In the second study, Prof. Allan Cooper and his group at Adelaide University used mitochondrial DNA in hair samples collected from Aboriginal people between 1920-70 to work out that their most recent common ancestor lived nearly 48,000 years ago. The implication is that the first Australians arrived 50,000 years ago, made their way rapidly around the coast in two waves east and west, and once a group decided to settle in a particular place they stayed put for the long haul, weathering 10 degree fluctuations in climate from the glacial maximum to recent times. So will science, technology and trade give us sufficient flexibility to stay put and adapt, or will there be an increase in climate change refugees, following food, water and other resources as they move in response to climate change?

Item Details

Item Type:Media Interview
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Environmental management
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Environmental policy, legislation and standards
Objective Field:Sustainability indicators
UTAS Author:Lefroy, EC (Professor Ted Lefroy)
ID Code:115864
Year Published:2017
Deposited By:Centre for Environment
Deposited On:2017-04-13
Last Modified:2017-04-13

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