An ambitious attempt to estimate the number of tree species on Earth showed that thousands of tree species have not yet been discovered. This massive international effort, involving more than 100 scientists, shows that there are approximately 73,000 species of trees on Earth in total; However, only 64,000 species have been documented.
Researchers say there is no information on 9,200 species of trees. According to Jungjing Liang, a forest ecologist at Pardew University:
We combined the single data set and came up with a huge data set including tree data. Each collection was obtained from individuals who went to the forest and evaluated trees to gather information about tree species, sizes, and other characteristics. Counting the number of tree species around the world is like a jigsaw puzzle of species scattered around the world.
Tree species on each continent based on the GFBI database
In this example, the puzzle contains two large datasets of trees. A collection of forest biodiversity programs around the world that Liang is responsible for, and another database called TreeChange. The data synthesis project to achieve better data involves combining multi-year tree classifications and analyzing tree species datasets into a network of 9,000 100-by-100-kilometer cells on planet Earth.
Based on statistical comparisons of the richness of the living climate in different regions, the researchers concluded that 9,200 trees have not yet been discovered; However, they emphasize that this estimate is based on incomplete data and covers areas where mapping and analysis of tree species is limited. According to the researchers in their new article:
Our estimate on continental scales shows that exactly 43% of all terrestrial tree species are found in South America. The next ranks are Eurasia (22%), Africa (16%), North America (15%) and Oceania (11%). Undiscovered species are more likely to be found in South America.
Undiscovered species in South America appear to cover 40% of undiscovered species. South America also has the highest number of rare species (nearly 8,200 species) and the highest percentage of native species (49%) not found on other continents. According to University of Michigan ecologist Peter Rich:
In addition to the 27,000 known tree species in South America, another 4,000 species may be waiting to be discovered. Thus, due to the crisis of tropical forests due to human impact and factors such as deforestation, fire and climate change, forest protection has become a priority in South America.
In recent years, the forest crisis has received more attention, and researchers say it is essential to identify the true diversity of tree life and protect endangered species from change. According to Andy Marshall, a forest researcher at the University of Sunshine Coast in Australia:
The new global data set is a significant part of the ecological puzzle in biodiversity. The more information we have, the better we can present national and international plans for conservation priorities and biodiversity goals and their management, and more importantly, save endangered species.
The findings were published in PNAS.