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How many species on Earth? 8.7 million
Date:8/23/2011

e of conditions.

In his analysis, Lord May says the practical benefits of taxonomic discovery are many, citing the development in the 1970s of a new strain of rice based on a cross between conventional species and one discovered in the wild. The result: 30% more grain yield, followed by efforts ever since to protect all wild varieties of rice, "which obviously can only be done if we have the appropriate taxonomic knowledge."

"Given the looming problems of feeding a still-growing world population, the potential benefits of ramping up such exploration are clear."

Based on current costs and requirements, the study suggests that describing all remaining species using traditional approaches could require up to 1,200 years of work by more than 300,000 taxonomists at an approximate cost of $US 364 billion. Fortunately, new techniques such as DNA barcoding are radically reducing the cost and time involved in new species identification.

Concludes Dr. Mora: "With the clock of extinction now ticking faster for many species, I believe speeding the inventory of Earth's species merits high scientific and societal priority. Renewed interest in further exploration and taxonomy could allow us to fully answer this most basic question: What lives on Earth?"


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Contact: Terry Collins
tc@tca.tc
416-538-8712
Census of Marine Life
Source:Eurekalert  

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