[Taxacom] species loss: 20 years after Rio

Jim Croft jim.croft at gmail.com
Mon Apr 30 01:54:24 CDT 2012


and not only that, listening to Taxacom, we still have absolutely no
idea what a species is... ;)

jim

On Thu, Apr 26, 2012 at 1:27 PM, Stephen Thorpe
<stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz> wrote:
> not only do we have little idea of the magnitude of species loss, but we also have little idea how many species there are at present, and not even a very good idea of how many described species there are ...
>
>
>
> ________________________________
> From: Donat Agosti <agosti at amnh.org>
> To: TAXACOM at MAILMAN.NHM.KU.EDU
> Sent: Thursday, 26 April 2012 3:07 PM
> Subject: [Taxacom] species loss: 20 years after Rio
>
> The Hubbell paper made it into BBC.  It is sad to see where we stand after
> 20 years. We have done more work, we developed an impressive array if
> biodiversity informatics, we have tools to capture specimens in our
> collections and make the data accessible, but the basic we are missing: A
> strategy to explore the living planet, and even less a strategy to measure
> the change of species based at least on a basic count of what's out there.
>
>
>
> May be we should give up this challenge and return to our ivory tower to
> describe yet another exciting new life form that makes it into the main
> media rather than get our acts together and act as a global observatory,
> that is all our many research institutions (herbaria, natural history
> collections, etc. and its main funders, the government) get together to
> rethink on how to react to this grand challenge as a consortium.
>
>
>
>
>
> Donat
>
>
>
>
>
> Biodiversity loss: How accurate are the numbers?
>
> http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17826898
>
>
>
> "Twenty years ago, the Earth Summit in Rio resulted in a Convention on
> Biological Diversity, now signed by 193 nations, to prevent species loss.
> But can we tell how many species are becoming extinct?
>
> One statement on the Convention's website claims: "We are indeed
> experiencing the greatest wave of extinction since the disappearance of the
> dinosaurs."
>
> While that may (or may not) be true, the next sentence is spuriously
> precise: "Every hour three species disappear. Every day up to 150 species
> are lost."
>
> Even putting aside the apparent mathematical error in that claim (on the
> face of it, if three species are disappearing every hour, 72 would be lost
> every day) there is an obvious problem in generating any such number. No-one
> knows how many species exist. And if we don't know a species exists, we
> won't miss it when it's gone.
>
> (.)
>
> It is possible to count the number of species known to be extinct. The
> International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) does just that. It has
> listed 801 animal and plant species (mostly animal) known to have gone
> extinct since 1500.
>
> But if it's really true that up to 150 species are being lost every day,
> shouldn't we expect to be able to name more than 801 extinct species in 512
> years?
>
> (.)
>
>
>
> According to IUCN data, for example, only one animal has been definitely
> identified as having gone extinct since 2000. It was a mollusc.
>
>
>
> "
>
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>
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-- 
_________________
Jim Croft ~ jim.croft at gmail.com ~ +61-2-62509499 ~ http://about.me/jrc
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 - Robert Frost, poet (1874-1963)

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