Roads Help Fish Please the Ladies

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Human activities are altering landscapes, dividing habitats and changing ecosystems. We rarely hear of any good coming from this, mostly because there isn’t. However, recent research has revealed an interesting evolutionary consequence of road construction for a small fish in the Bahamas. Over just 50 years of evolution, females in fragmented populations have exercised their preference to produce males that are better equipped to please them and more considerate of their feelings. Humans are constantly modifying our landscape to make it more connected. We build roads, tunnels and bridges, we design boats and planes, all in an attempt to maximise our ability to move around. At the same time, these human structures are dividing ecological landscapes – our roads create barriers that keep many species from crossing and can have a significant impact on ecosystems. This is known as habitat fragmentation and it is one of the biggest concerns for biodiversity. Habitat fragmentation can split groups and isolate small, vulnerable or unviable populations. This can be a huge problem, reducing genetic diversity and leading to local or even global species extinction.

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