According to a new study, fossils that resemble miniaturized popcorn and dated back millions of years provide the first statistical evidence of the number of species on Earth that depends on the environment change.
Research conducted at University of Southampton in UK shows that environmental changes put a cap on species richness. This was based on analyzing the fossil record of microscopic aquatic creatures called planktonic foraminifera.
While the idea of infinite species on a finite Earth is whimsical, the relevance of upper limits to diversity is still a fractious debate amongst evolutionary biologists, ecologists and palaeontologists said Thomas Ezard, the researcher from the University of Southampton.
We are the first to show statistically that this upper limit is environmentally dependent, Ezard further added.
However, previous researches have focused on either biological, climate change or geological explanations, this new research examined the co-dependence of these factors on how species interact.
The outcome of the research showed that the world is full of species, but that the precise fullness varies through time as environment changes. The study was published in the journal Ecology Letters.