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

 


(Potentially) good news for conservation of species on Earth

Media release

Faculty of Science
The University of Auckland

***EMBARGOED until 8am Friday 25 January New Zealand Time, equivalent to 2pm U.S. Eastern Time Thursday, 24 January***


New Year brings (potentially) good news for conservation of species on Earth

Claims that most species will go extinct before they can be discovered have been debunked in the latest issue of Science, by researchers from The University of Auckland, Griffith University, and the University of Oxford.

The scientists show that the claims are based on two key misconceptions: an over-estimation of how many species may exist on Earth, and the erroneous belief that the number of taxonomists (people who describe and identify species) is declining.

“Our findings are potentially good news for the conservation of global biodiversity,” says lead author Associate Professor Mark Costello from The University of Auckland’s Leigh Marine Laboratory, who published the work with Professor Nigel Stork from Griffith University and Professor Bob May from Oxford.

The authors propose that there are 5 ± 3 million species on Earth – far fewer than has been widely believed – of which 1.5 million species have been named. This re-affirms previous estimates by the three authors, which spanned the upper and lower reaches of this range.

“Over-estimates of the number of species on Earth are self-defeating because they can make attempts to discover and conserve biodiversity appear to be hopeless,” says Dr Costello. “Our work suggests that this is far from the case. We believe that with just a modest increase in effort in taxonomy and conservation, most species could be discovered and protected from extinction.”

The authors conclude that there have never been so many people describing new species – including professionals and amateurs, the number may near 50,000. And the community continues to grow, in large part due to the development of science in Asia and South America, regions that are rich in biodiversity and where many new species are being discovered.

While the research suggests that species are more likely to be discovered than to go extinct, the authors do not underplay the seriousness of the threats to species and their habitats. The combination of over-hunting, habitat loss and climate change, now occurring at both local and global scales, mean that extinction rates could increase very rapidly in the future.

Dr Costello says that the discovery and naming of species is critical to their conservation. Naming a species gives formal recognition to its existence, making its conservation far easier. The process of discovery, including exploration of remote and less studied habitats, also provides the evidence to underpin conservation efforts.

Amongst the authors’ recommendations to increase the rate of species discovery are: getting more people involved in the work; international coordination of exploration and specimen collections; the development of freely available online databases; and financial support from governments and other organisations for these efforts.

The current research is published in the latest issue of Science: Costello MJ, May RM, Stork NE. (2013) Can we name Earth’s species before they go extinct?

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Interest Rates: Wheeler Hikes OCR To 3% On Inflationary Pressures, Eyes Kiwi

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler lifted the official cash rate for the second time in as many months, saying non-tradable inflationary pressures were "becoming apparent" in an economy that’s picking up pace and he's watching the impact of a strong kiwi dollar on import prices. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Equity Crowd Funding Carries Risks, High Failure Rate

Equity crowd funding, which became legal in New Zealand this month, comes with a high risk of failure based on figures showing existing forays into social capital have a success rate of less than 50 percent, one new entrant says. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: NZ Migration Rises To 11-Year High In March

The country gained a seasonally adjusted 3,800 net new migrants in March, the most since February 2003, said Statistics New Zealand. A net 400 people left for Australia in March, down from 600 in February, according to seasonally adjusted figures. More>>

ALSO:

Hugh Pavletich: New Zealand’s Bubble Economy Is Vulnerable

The recent Forbes e-edition article by Jesse Colombo assesses the New Zealand economy “ 12 Reasons Why New Zealand's Economic Bubble Will End In Disaster ”, seems to have created quite a stir, creating extensive media coverage in New Zealand. More>>

ALSO:

Thursday Market Close: Genesis Debut Sparks Energy Rally

New Zealand stock rose after shares in the partially privatised Genesis Energy soared as much as 18 percent in its debut listing on the NZX, buoying other listed energy companies in the process. Meridian Energy, MightyRiverPower, Contact Energy and TrustPower paced gains. More>>

ALSO:

Power Outages, Roads Close: Easter Storm Moving Down Country

The NZ Transport Agency says storm conditions at the start of the Easter break are making driving hazardous in Auckland and Northland and it advises people extreme care is needed on the regions’ state highways and roads... More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Computer Power Plus
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news