Number of Earth’s tree species estimated to be 14% greater than at present recognized, with 9,200 species but to be found


This dataset (blue factors within the central map) was used for the parametric estimation and merged with the TREECHANGE occurrence-based information (purple factors within the central map) to offer the estimates on this examine. Green areas characterize the worldwide tree cowl. Credit: Cazzolla Gatti et al. / PNAS

A brand new examine involving greater than 100 scientists from throughout the globe and the most important forest database but assembled estimates that there are about 73,000 tree species on Earth, together with about 9,200 species but to be found.

The international estimate is about 14% greater than the present variety of recognized tree species. Most of the undiscovered species are prone to be uncommon, with very low populations and restricted spatial distribution, the examine exhibits.

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That makes the undiscovered species particularly susceptible to human-caused disruptions equivalent to deforestation and climate change, in keeping with the examine authors, who say the brand new findings will assist prioritize forest conservation efforts.

“These results highlight the vulnerability of global forest biodiversity to anthropogenic changes, particularly land use and climate, because the survival of rare taxa is disproportionately threatened by these pressures,” mentioned University of Michigan forest ecologist Peter Reich, one in all two senior authors of a paper scheduled for publication Jan. 31 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“By establishing a quantitative benchmark, this study could contribute to tree and forest conservation efforts and the future discovery of new trees and associated species in certain parts of the world,” mentioned Reich, director of the Institute for Global Change Biology at U-M’s School for Environment and Sustainability.

For the examine, the researchers mixed tree abundance and incidence information from two international datasets—one from the Global Forest Biodiversity Initiative and the opposite from TREECHANGE—that use ground-sourced forest-plot information. The mixed databases yielded a total of 64,100 documented tree species worldwide, a total much like a earlier examine that discovered about 60,000 tree species on the planet.

“We combined individual datasets into one massive global dataset of tree-level data,” mentioned the examine’s different senior creator, Jingjing Liang of Purdue University, coordinator of the Global Forest Biodiversity Initiative.

“Each set comes from someone going out to a forest stand and measuring every single tree—collecting information about the tree species, sizes and other characteristics. Counting the number of tree species worldwide is like a puzzle with pieces spread all over the world.”

After combining the datasets, the researchers used novel statistical strategies to estimate the total variety of distinctive tree species at biome, continental and international scales—together with species but to be found and described by scientists. A biome is a significant ecological group kind, equivalent to a tropical rainforest, a boreal forest or a savanna.

Their conservative estimate of the total variety of tree species on Earth is 73,274, which implies there are doubtless about 9,200 tree species but to be found, in keeping with the researchers, who say their new examine makes use of a vastly extra in depth dataset and extra superior statistical strategies than earlier makes an attempt to estimate the planet’s tree range. The researchers used fashionable developments of methods first devised by mathematician Alan Turing throughout World War II to crack Nazi code, Reich mentioned.

Roughly 40% of the undiscovered tree species—greater than on every other continent—are prone to be in South America, which is talked about repeatedly within the examine as being of particular significance for international tree range.

South America can also be the continent with the best estimated variety of uncommon tree species (about 8,200) and the best estimated proportion (49%) of continentally endemic tree species—which means species discovered solely on that continent.

Hot spots of undiscovered South American tree species doubtless embrace the tropical and subtropical moist forests of the Amazon basin, in addition to Andean forests at elevations between 1,000 meters (about 3,300 toes) and three,500 meters (about 11,480 toes).

“Beyond the 27,000 known tree species in South America, there might be as many as another 4,000 species yet to be discovered there. Most of them could be endemic and located in diversity hot spots of the Amazon basin and the Andes-Amazon interface,” mentioned Reich, who was recruited by U-M’s Biosciences Initiative and joined the college final fall from the University of Minnesota, the place he maintains a twin appointment.

“This makes forest conservation of paramount priority in South America, especially considering the current tropical forest crisis from anthropogenic impacts such as deforestation, fires and climate change,” he mentioned.

Worldwide, roughly half to two-thirds of all already recognized tree species happen in tropical and subtropical moist forests, that are each species-rich and poorly studied by scientists. Tropical and subtropical dry forests doubtless maintain excessive numbers of undiscovered tree species, as effectively.

“Extensive knowledge of tree richness and diversity is key to preserving the stability and functioning of ecosystems,” mentioned examine lead creator Roberto Cazzolla Gatti of the University of Bologna in Italy.

Forests present many “ecosystem services” to humanity totally free. In addition to supplying timber, fuelwood, fiber and different merchandise, forests clear the air, filter the water, and assist management erosion and flooding. They assist protect biodiversity, retailer climate-warming carbon, and promote soil formation and nutrient biking whereas providing leisure alternatives equivalent to mountain climbing, tenting, fishing and looking.

More than 100 scientists from analysis teams world wide are co-authors of the PNAS examine.

Tree growth response to soil nutrients and neighborhood crowding varies between mycorrhizal types

More data:
Roberto Cazzolla Gatti et al, The Number of Tree Species on Earth, PNAS (2022). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2115329119

Number of Earth’s tree species estimated to be 14% greater than at present recognized, with 9,200 species but to be found (2022, January 31)
retrieved 31 January 2022

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