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KU ecologist's theory from 1967 drawing new attention

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Some 45 years ago, it was an interesting idea from a KU ecologist. Now it's taken on a new importance, thanks to climate change.

A feature from the scientific journal Nature today tells the story of a hypothesis made in 1967 by Daniel Janzen, a young KU scientist, that's being re-examined anew.

Janzen, who's now a professor of biology at the University of Pennsylvania, theorized that organisms in tropical areas where the weather almost always stays the same have difficulty adapting to other areas that get terribly hot, cold, wet or dry in comparison.

He said the seed for the idea came when he was on a Costa Rican trip with an assistant who lived in the city of San José, where the weather stayed pretty moderate. When the group went to a hot area, the assistant was sweating buckets; when they went up in the mountains, the assistant piled on layers of blankets.

Amid today's concerns of global warming, his theory could imply that species in tropical areas could be in serious trouble if things change too much in their environment. Sparked by these implications, now some researchers are testing Janzen's theory by comparing insects from streams in Colorado with similar ones from Ecuador.

We had our own environmental change here at Heard on the Hill a few months back, though to my knowledge no species were harmed. But I'm going to remind you because someone asked me about it today: The best way for you to stay up-to-date on Heard on the Hill nowadays is to bookmark this page right here, and check it often. That's where you can see all of the posts on this blog, now that it's really a blog.

Of course, you can also follow the LJW_KU Twitter account to keep abreast of Heard on the Hill and all other KU-related news from the Journal-World. And I don't even have to tell you that you should also send your news tips to merickson@ljworld.com.

Comments

Kirk Larson 1 year, 10 months ago

So the lesson is to not get in a rut. The more you experience change in your life, the more adaptable you will be when big life changes come along.

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