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Norway's quest to discover all its native species
Date:12/19/2013

portion of undescribed species may be as high as 90 per cent.

New knowledge about better-known species groups

Norway's landscape varies greatly in its topography, climate and habitats, which are home to a rich lichen and moss flora, with more than 2000 species of lichens and about 11 000 species of mosses.

"Even though we believe that the flora of both lichens and mosses are relatively well known, we have learned a great deal about the incidence and prevalence of both groups as a result of the initiative" says Ingrid Salvesen, senior adviser at the Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre and coordinator of the Norwegian Taxonomy Initiative.

This is partly because much of the current knowledge and species descriptions are based on very old data. DNA analyses, combined with surveys in little explored areas, have proven to be very useful.

Salvesen also says that the initiative has given scientists a better understanding of where better-known species are found and the relationships of these species to different habitats. This is an important cornerstone for knowledge-based management.

"Geo-referenced information records of species give us new knowledge of the habitat that these species live in, and the organisms that they live with," Salvesen says. "That gives us the ability to better understand the complex interactions of nature."

DNA reveals new species

DNA barcoding is a method for identifying species using differences in genetic material. The method involves comparing a short DNA sequence of an unknown organism to known sequences in a reference library.

The DNA barcodes can identify species from just tiny tissue samples, such as from an insect leg or a drop of blood.

A selection of the material collected by the Taxonomy Initiative has been made available for DNA barcoding in collaboration with the Norwegian Barcode of Life network (NorBOL).

To date
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Contact: Ivar Myklebust
Ivar.Myklebust@artsdatabanken.no
47-951-33131
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Source:Eurekalert  

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