According to ScienceDaily, scientists have found more than 50 percent of plant species have been discovered by about 2 percent of plant collectors. The study involved looking at data sets from the Natural History Museum, the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Royal Botanic Garden in Melbourne, which totaled 100,000 specimens.
Researchers found the most productive plant collectors, or the ones discovering the most new species, are the ones who collect over numerous years, collect more types of plants each year, collect from several countries, collect from numerous plant families and collecting more types toward the end of their scientific careers.
Here are some facts about plant diversity and its importance.
* Plant life also provides numerous benefits to ecosystems like protecting watersheds, improving the quality of soil, moderating local climate and stabilizing slopes, noted the Smithsonian Institute.
* Plants play a pivotal role for animals and humans in which it serves as food, oil, herbs, spices, fuel and fibers, and it is estimated 30,000 species of plants are used by humans and up to 25,000 species have been used in traditional and herbal medicine.
* Nature reported plant biodiversity relies heavily on available light, though it was previously thought primary productivity contributed the most to biodiversity.
* The specific amount of plant biodiversity can vary greatly depending on location; there is typically a smaller range of species in the Arctic regions while tropical rainforests are some of the most ecologically rich areas in the world.
* A 2010 report from the National Academy of Sciences concludes that of the 70,000 flowering plants that have yet to be discovered and identified, over half might already be in collections awaiting identification by botanists, according to BBC.
* The study specifically calculated that close to 25 percent of plants had to wait over 50 years after they were first collected to be identified, and in fact, one species took 210 years to be properly identified.
* A report from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew indicates one of the biggest threats to fauna biodiversity is climate change, most notably that climate change will become one of the most significant causes of biodiversity loss by the end of this century.
* Conservation techniques and additional scientific research are helping to contribute to the preservation of some of the most crucial and rare plant species in many parts of the world.
Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. As a college student from the Chicago suburbs pursuing two science degrees, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.
- Missouri Botanical Garden