Friday, December 09, 2022

Earth may have 9,200 more tree species than previously thought

A new study has found that there are trillions of trees growing on Earth, although the number of types has been underestimated.

The Earth hosts approximately 64,100 known tree species. But there may be at least 73,300 – about 14 percent more than previously thought – a global collaboration of researchers reports in Feb. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science,

Of the 9,200 undiscovered species, perhaps more than a third are rare and hidden in South America’s biodiversity hot spots, such as the Amazon and the tropical Andes, say biologist Roberto Cazzola Gatti of the University of Bologna in Italy and colleagues.

To estimate the number of Earth’s existing tree species, the team analyzed global forest data from two databases – the Global Forest Biodiversity Initiative and TreeChange. The researchers used a statistical analysis to account for the number of rare, rare trees that may have been overlooked, revealing new differences between documented species and novel ones.

If more than 9,000 types of immobile, comparatively large trees remain undetected, Cazzola Gatti says, then the number of much smaller and more mobile animal species that are still unknown should be even higher.

The research could help scientists target conservation efforts amid an accelerating loss of biodiversity around the world.SN: 4/22/20) In vulnerable places such as the Amazon, where deforestation and fires are rapidly eroding habitat, many plants and animals may be wiped from maps before they are ever documented (SN: 9/1/21,

Cazzola Gatti says it is important to continue investing in the conservation and protection of biodiversity. Without it, “we don’t have much opportunities to survive our planet.”

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