Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Up to two thirds of marine species unknown to science

Media release

Faculty of Science
The University of Auckland


Up to two thirds of marine species unknown to science

At least one third of the species living in our oceans, and perhaps up to two thirds, are unknown to science according to the work of an international research group published online today in Current Biology.

The researchers calculate that there are less than 1 million marine species, far fewer than some previous estimates. Around 226,000 species have been described by science and as many as 72,000 more are in collections awaiting description.

The good news is that the rate of discovery is increasing, with an unprecedented 20,000 new marine species described in the last decade alone, suggesting that most marine species will be discovered this century.

“This is by far the most comprehensive assessment of how many marine species have been described to date, and how many undescribed species experts believe there may be,” says Associate Professor Mark Costello from The University of Auckland who co-led the research with Ward Appeltans of Flanders Marine Institute and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO.

The study involved 120 of the world’s top experts on the taxonomy (classification) of marine species, and represents the sum of their opinions on how many species may exist. Mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and larger plants are some of the best-described groups of marine species to date. Many of the species yet to be discovered will come from amongst the smaller crustaceans, molluscs, algae, worms, and sponges.

“Knowing how many species there are in our oceans, and describing them, is vital for science and conservation for several reasons,” says Dr Costello.

“Species are the most practical measure for distinguishing habitats and tracking progress in exploring the Earth’s biodiversity. They are as fundamental to biology as elements are to chemistry and particles to physics. So failure to consider all species in an ecosystem is analogous to an accountant ignoring items of inventory in a company’s stock.”

“Better understanding of what species exist enables more accurate estimates of extinction rates due to habitat loss. In addition, having a standardised master list of species names is essential for quality assurance in science and the management of natural resources.”

“Inventories like these also reveal where taxonomic effort will discover most new species and this is the first step in biology, akin to an explorer discovering new land.”

The near completion of the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) – an open-access, online database that has received contributions from almost 300 scientists from 32 countries – set the stage for the current research. Based on its success, the scientists are calling on other research communities to create similar international collaborations and share their data online.

The study supports previous research by Dr Costello and colleagues, which used statistical modelling and an earlier version of WoRMS to reach a similar estimate of the number of species on Earth and in the oceans. It is the culmination of fourteen years’ work for Dr Costello, who began a European Register of Marine Species in 1997 that expanded until the World Register was initiated in 2006. He is currently Chair of the WoRMS Steering Committee.

The World Register of Marine Species can be found at: www.marinespecies.org
ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Economic Update: RBNZ Says Rate Cut Seems Likely

The Reserve Bank will likely cut interest rates further as a persistently strong kiwi dollar makes it difficult for the bank to meet its inflation target, it said. The local currency fell. More>>

ALSO:

House Price Action Plan: RBNZ Signals National Lending Restrictions

The central bank wants to cap bank lending to property investors with a deposit of less than 40 percent at 5 percent and restore the 10 percent limit for owner-occupiers wanting to take out a mortgage with a deposit of less than 20 percent, according to a consultation paper released today. More>>

ALSO:

Sparks Fly: Gordon Campbell On China Steel Dumping Allegations

No doubt, officials on the China desk at MFAT have prided themselves on fashioning a niche position for New Zealand right in between the US and China – and leveraging off both of them! Well, as the Aussies would say, of MFAT: tell ‘em they’re dreaming. More>>

ALSO:

Loan Sharks: Finance Companies Found Guilty Of Breaching Fair Trading Act

Finance companies Budget Loans and Evolution Finance, run by former 1980s corporate high-flyer Allan Hawkins, have been found guilty of 106 charges of breaching the Fair Trading Act for misleading 21 borrowers while enforcing loan contracts. More>>

ALSO:

Post Panama Papers: Govt To Adopt Shewan's Foreign Trust Recommendations

The government will adopt all of the recommendations from former PwC chairman John Shewan to increase disclosure and introduce a register for foreign trusts with new legislation to be introduced next month. More>>

ALSO:

The Price Of Cheese: Cheddar At Eight-Year Low

Food prices decreased 0.5 percent in the year to June 2016, influenced by lower grocery food prices (down 2.3 percent), Statistics New Zealand said today. Compared with June 2015, cheese prices were down 9.5 percent, fresh milk was down 3.9 percent, and yoghurt was down 9.2 percent. More>>

ALSO:

Financial Advisers: New 'Customer-First' Obligations

Goldsmith plans to do away with the current adviser designations which he says have been "unsatisfactory" in that some advisers are obliged to disclose potential conflicts of interest and act in their customers' best interests, but others are not. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news