DURHAM, N.C. Most of the world's "missing" or undiscovered species live in regions already identified by scientists as conservation priorities, according to a new study published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study's findings suggest recent conservation efforts have been on target and should reduce uncertainty over global conservation priorities, its team of international authors say. But, they add, the extinction threat for many of the as-yet undiscovered species is worse than previously feared.
"We show that the majority of the world's 'missing species' are hiding away on some of the most threatened landscapes in the world," says Stuart Pimm, Doris Duke Professor of Conservation at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment. "This considerably increases the number of threatened and endangered species around the world."
With limited resources and accelerating threats to nature, conservation biologists have long sought to identify areas around the world where effective conservation actions could save the most species. Biodiversity hotspots places with extreme rates of habitat loss as well as unusually high numbers of endemic species are priorities.
The problem is that knowledge of species is seriously incomplete many species are as-yet unknown.
"We know we have an incomplete catalogue of life," says lead author Lucas Joppa of Microsoft Research in Cambridge, U.K., who received his PhD in ecology from Duke in 2009. "If we don't know how many species there are, or where they live, then how can we prioritize places for conservation? What if the places we ignore now turn out to be those with the most unknown species?"
To address this dilemma, Joppa and his coauthors created a model that incorporates taxonomic effects over time to estimate how many species of flowering plants, which form the basis of the biodiversity hotspots concept, remain to
|Contact: Tim Lucas|