Draw a world map of unknown species … A challenge that has just been achieved two scientists associated with Yale University, in the USA. This map complements the one these same researchers published in 2011 on known species.
What these biodiversity specialists explain in the introduction to their work published in the journal Nature, it is that we know today, according to the best estimates, that less than 20% of the living species. At the current rate of pressure on the global environment, many of the unknown species will be extinct before humans can identify them.
Just published in Nature Ecology and Evolution @NatureEcoEvo, @Yale_BGC Center scientists @mariormoura and @WalterJetz put yet to be discovered vertebrate diversity on the map – supported by @moldotorg @InsideNatGeo @EOWilsonFndtn @UFPBoficial https://t.co/xkVCfhCRSH pic.twitter.com/tYGglx1LVH
– Yale BGC (@Yale_BGC) March 22, 2021
Hence the idea of this card, based on models allowing to say in which places of the planet there is the most chance to find frogs or reptiles, for example. Researchers have in fact focused on the broad category of terrestrial vertebrates. They thus analyzed the dates of discovery and the environmental and biological characteristics of nearly 32,000 species of terrestrial vertebrates. By extrapolating these data, the two scientists were able to determine which types of species, within the four main groups of vertebrates, remain to be discovered as well as their probable location.
The Yale University map shows, quite logically, that it is rather the small animals, whose geographic sphere is small and which live in regions difficult to access, which are most likely to have escaped the radars for biologists. Madagascar, Colombia, Indonesia and Brazil alone account for a quarter of potential discoveries. It is also a way of saying that these areas, which in particular have vast humid tropical forests, should be protected as a priority.
The two authors of this study now aim to develop, in the years to come, the same type of map for plants, marine species and invertebrates. New weapons to enable governments and scientific institutions to know where to focus their efforts to document and preserve biodiversity.