The international committee of taxon experts who made the selection of the top 10 from the thousands of species described in calendar year 2007 is helping draw attention to biodiversity, the field of taxonomy, and the importance of natural history museums and botanical gardens in a fun-filled way, says Professor Quentin Wheeler, an entomologist and director of ASUs International Institute for Species Exploration.
We live in an exciting time. A new generation of tools are coming online that will vastly accelerate the rate at which we are able to discover and describe species, says Wheeler. Most people do not realize just how incomplete our knowledge of Earths species is or the steady rate at which taxonomists are exploring that diversity. In 2006, for example, an average of nearly 50 species per day were discovered and named.
We are surrounded by such an exuberance of species diversity that we too often take it for granted. Charting the species of the world and their unique attributes are essential parts of understanding the history of life and is in our own self-interest as we face the challenges of living on a rapidly changing planet, Wheeler says.
Todays announcements fall on the anniversary of the birth of Carolus Linnaeus, who initiated the modern system of plant and animal names and classifications. The 300th anniversary of his birth on May 23 was celebrated worldwide in 2007 and this year marks the 250th anniversary of the beginning of animal naming.
The majority of the 16,969 species described (named) in 2006 were invertebrate animals and vascular plants, which according to the SOS report is consistent with recent years and reflects, in part, our profound ignorance of many of the most species-rich taxa inhabiting the planet.
There are about 1.8 million species that have
|Contact: Carol Hughes|
Arizona State University