"Scientists have estimated that, overall, there could be between 5 million and 50 million species, but fewer than 2 million of these species have been discovered to date," says lead author Lucas Joppa of Microsoft Research in Cambridge, U.K., who received his doctorate from Duke University earlier this year. "Using novel methods, we were able to refine the estimate of total species for flowering plants, and calculate how many of those remain undiscovered."
Based on data from the online World Checklist of Selected Plant Families at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the scientists calculated that there are between 10 and 20 percent more undiscovered flowering plant species than previously estimated. This finding has "enormous conservation implications, as any as-yet-unknown species are likely to be overwhelmingly rare and threatened," Joppa says.
The new, more accurate estimate can be used to infer the proportion of all threatened species, says coauthor David Roberts of the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology at the University of Kent. "If we take the number of species that are currently known to be threatened, and add to that those that are yet to be discovered, we can estimate that between 27 percent and 33 percent of all flowering plants will be threatened with extinction," he says.
"That percentage reflects the global impact of factors such as habitat loss. It may increase if you factor in other threats such as climate change," Joppa adds.
"The timing couldn't be more perfect," says co-author Stuart Pimm, Doris Duke Professor of Conservation Ecology at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment. "The year 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity. We wrote the paper to help answer the obvious questions: How much biodiversity is out there, and how many species will we lose before they are even discovered?"
Pimm was Joppa's faculty adviser for a Duke doctoral degree in 2010.
Tim Lucas | EurekAlert!
New application for acoustics helps estimate marine life populations
16.01.2018 | University of California - San Diego
Unexpected environmental source of methane discovered
16.01.2018 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
17.01.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
17.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
17.01.2018 | Awards Funding