Africa: How Ice Ages Disintegrated Africa’s Rainforests, DNA Told

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Africa Rainforests: Scientists find answers to many questions by investigating the history of the Earth. On the one hand, the history of Earth’s climate gives us information about what changes we will see in the future. At the same time, in the study of fossils, scientists try to know how climate and other changes have affected the evolution of organisms. But a new study found the exact opposite. Researchers have studied the DNA of fossils to find that several Ice Ages greatly influenced the shape of the Central African rainforests.

Collapsed rainforest
According to a study by the University of Exeter, due to the impact of ice ages, the rainforests of Central Africa were compressed and scattered, so that Today’s savanna grasslands came into existence. The African rain forests cover a large part of Central Africa. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen, ULB Brussels, and The Royal Botanic Gardens of Ky, and the University of Exeter also contributed to this study.

The same species evolved in different places
The researchers identified genetic clues from two different pre-populations of the same species at the same time that evolved from the splitting of forests into separate parts. In this study, researchers found a lot of evidence supporting this fact.

Genetic study of a particular tree
Repeated ice ages over the past few million years are believed to have caused central Africa to become cold and dry, while regions farther from the equator remained frozen due to shallow temperatures. Dr. Rosalia Pinero of the University of Exeter said that she studied the DNA of five legume trees.

Special attention is given to scatter
Dr. Pinero explained that legume trees are found in abundance in African rain forests. He said, “We have identified vital genetic signs of scattering, that is, the physical division between populations. This shows that the forest has been slipping back during the cold and dry period due to the ice age.

Trees can’t go very far
The research found that it is not surprising that the rate at which species flourished in new areas after the Ice Age varied greatly. The researchers say that this rate appears to have been slower in trees than in other species due to the system of short-dispersion of seeds and pollen.

Dr. Pinero said, “Today, the climate and land use are changing rapidly due to human activities. Because of this, these trees may not be able to grow effectively again elsewhere. At the same time, tropical areas have always been neglected in snow research. Both Africa and the tropics have been less studied in these cases.

This study by Dr. Rosalia Pinero has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He said that even after a long history, their results show that African rainforests are a dynamic biome where diverse tree species have significantly changed due to climate change.