The history of insects living on the open ocean tracked with the history of the currents they ride

Source: Science Daily

The open oceans are harsh and hostile environments where insects might not be expected to thrive. In fact, only one insect group, ocean skaters, or water striders, has adapted to life on the open seas. How these insects evolved to conquer the high seas, however, was not known. Now, a study of the genetics of skaters provides a clue. The answer has to do with when major currents in the eastern Pacific Ocean came into existence with each species of skater evolving to match the unique conditions of those currents, according to scientists who examined the genetics of three ocean skater species collected across the eastern Pacific between Hawaii and Peru. The findings could unravel the mystery of how each skater species came to occupy habitats vastly different from those of other insects, and also deepen our understanding of how climate change affects ocean-dwelling organisms.