CHICAGO, Oct. 6, 2008 Putting together the Who's Who of bats, bears, beaked whales and all of Earth's other known mammals was a gigantic task ably assisted by a Field Museum scientific team with access to one of the planet's most extensive and diverse mammal collections.
A team headed by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) is releasing its comprehensive status on the world's mammals, including assessments of diversity, threat and knowledge of the creatures. The Oct. 10 issue of Science will feature the results of the study.
A major reason for doing the assessment is to get a picture of how mammals on our planet are doing. The news isn't good. One in four appears to be threatened with extinction and half the known species appear to be losing rather than gaining population. For land mammals, destruction or degradation of their habitats is the biggest threat, while marine mammals suffer more from accident deaths stemming from fishing practices and pollution.
Field Museum Provides "Gold Standard" for Study
The comprehensive assessment, which covers 5,487 wild mammal species, represents five years of work by more than 1,700 scientists from 130 countries and is the first update on mammals since 1996.
Among those scientists were seven affiliated with Chicago's Field Museum who helped colleagues from around the world by accessing the museum's data base of 200,000 records that document the existence and relationships of thousands of species. Field Museum zoologists have active survey programs and expertise in Asia, Africa, and the Americas; their recent collections inform and authenticate the status report. Just this summer, Field zoologists Bill Stanley, Steve Goodman, and Julian Kerbis Peterhans returned to Chicago with important new collections from Tanzania, Madagascar, and the Congo Basin.
"The Field Museum provides the gold standard for biodiversity studies," said L
|Contact: Nancy O'Shea|