Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Just how many species are there, anyway?

26.05.2003


One barrier to protecting biodiversity is that there are no good ways of figuring out how many species there are in large areas. Now we may finally be able to find out: a new method accurately predicts the total number of North American butterfly species even when only a tenth of the ecoregions are sampled.


Western admiral, Limenitis weidemeyerii, near Gothic, Colorado (courtesy of Taylor H. Ricketts)



This could "at last enable ecology to estimate worldwide species diversity," say Michael Rosenzweig, Will Turner and Jonathan Cox of the University of Arizona, Tucson, and Taylor Ricketts of Stanford University in Stanford, California, and the World Wildlife Fund in Washington, DC, in the June issue of Conservation Biology.

While conservationists can predict how many species there are within a single habitat, the usefulness of this approach is limited because it’s impossible to sample all the habitats in large areas. Knowing the number of species is critical to tracking – and addressing -- declines in biodiversity. "Right now we can only guess that the correct answer for the total number of species worldwide lies between 2 and 100 million," says Rosenzweig.


To help find a way to assess biodiversity in large regions, Rosenzweig and his colleagues tested six methods for assessing biodiversity in a single habitat on a remarkably well-known group of species: butterflies in the U.S. and Canada. Because butterflies are so popular, we have an unusually complete set of data for which species live where. There are 561 known butterfly species and 110 ecoregions in the U.S. and Canada, and the researchers determined which of the six methods predicted the total number of species most accurately based on data from the smallest number of ecoregions.

Rosenzweig and his colleagues found that three of methods worked well even when limited to only a tenth of the ecoregions (11 out of 110). The best such estimate yielded nearly all of the known butterfly species (556 out of 561). While the researchers found that selecting ecoregions at random worked well, spacing them evenly throughout the continent was even better. "This is encouraging because it’s easy to do," says Rosenzweig. It would have been much harder if they had to select ecoregions based on biologically-relevant factors. "It’s not easy to know in advance what measures are important to most species – temperature? rainfall? elevation?" he says.

The researchers have even more encouraging news. Rosenzweig and his colleagues have recently found that their approach also works for assessing the large-scale biodiversity of many other groups of species, from marine invertebrates to birds. "It points the way for getting the answer to how many species there are worldwide," says Rosenzweig.

Michael Rosenzweig | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://conservationbiology.org/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Road access for all would be costly, but not so much for the climate
10.07.2020 | Potsdam-Institut für Klimafolgenforschung

nachricht Innovative grilling technique improves air quality
01.07.2020 | Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A new path for electron optics in solid-state systems

A novel mechanism for electron optics in two-dimensional solid-state systems opens up a route to engineering quantum-optical phenomena in a variety of materials

Electrons can interfere in the same manner as water, acoustical or light waves do. When exploited in solid-state materials, such effects promise novel...

Im Focus: Electron cryo-microscopy: Using inexpensive technology to produce high-resolution images

Biochemists at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) have used a standard electron cryo-microscope to achieve surprisingly good images that are on par with those taken by far more sophisticated equipment. They have succeeded in determining the structure of ferritin almost at the atomic level. Their results were published in the journal "PLOS ONE".

Electron cryo-microscopy has become increasingly important in recent years, especially in shedding light on protein structures. The developers of the new...

Im Focus: The spin state story: Observation of the quantum spin liquid state in novel material

New insight into the spin behavior in an exotic state of matter puts us closer to next-generation spintronic devices

Aside from the deep understanding of the natural world that quantum physics theory offers, scientists worldwide are working tirelessly to bring forth a...

Im Focus: Excitation of robust materials

Kiel physics team observed extremely fast electronic changes in real time in a special material class

In physics, they are currently the subject of intensive research; in electronics, they could enable completely new functions. So-called topological materials...

Im Focus: Electrons in the fast lane

Solar cells based on perovskite compounds could soon make electricity generation from sunlight even more efficient and cheaper. The laboratory efficiency of these perovskite solar cells already exceeds that of the well-known silicon solar cells. An international team led by Stefan Weber from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz has found microscopic structures in perovskite crystals that can guide the charge transport in the solar cell. Clever alignment of these "electron highways" could make perovskite solar cells even more powerful.

Solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. During this process, the electrons of the material inside the cell absorb the energy of the light....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

International conference QuApps shows status quo of quantum technology

02.07.2020 | Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tiny bubbles make a quantum leap

15.07.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

Higher-order topology found in 2D crystal

15.07.2020 | Materials Sciences

Russian scientists have discovered a new physical paradox

15.07.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>