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Nature & Environment

Amazon tree discoveries will take 300 years

By T.K. Randall
July 13, 2016 · Comment icon 6 comments



The Amazon still contains thousands of undiscovered tree species. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 CIAT
It turns out that it will take centuries for scientists to discover all the different species of trees.
Covering a region in excess of 5.5 million square kilometers, the Amazon rainforest is so large that it stretches across almost the entire width of the South American continent.

During a recent audit of over half a million Amazon tree specimens collected by museums over the last few centuries, scientists determined that we currently know of around 11,676 different species.

Discovering and documenting the remaining 4,000-or-so tree species however, many of which being a lot rarer than the ones found already, could take the better part of 300 years.
"Since 1900, between 50 and 200 new trees have been discovered in the Amazon every year," said conservationist Dr Nigel Pitman. "Our analysis suggests that we won’t be done discovering new tree species there for three more centuries."

The study was made possible by the digitizing of images and information about museum specimens so that the data could be accessed by researchers across the world.

"All of the information we needed was in the same place, so we didn’t have to go through every individual museum in the world," said Dr Pitman. "We were able to use data not just from the Field Museum, but from museum collections everywhere."

Source: BT.com | Comments (6)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by freetoroam 7 years ago
All the more reason to preserve it.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Nzo 7 years ago
It won't take that long. I say it takes about 50 years. You have to figure in human breeding into the equation. At the rate that human primates are breeding combined with the awesome amounts of resources needed to sustain that population, the forests will be destroyed.  
Comment icon #3 Posted by paperdyer 7 years ago
Considering there are more trees now than before, I'll concur with the scientists.  Especially since there are all types of snakes and other critters to content with. You can't plow through and area you want to preserve and examine.
Comment icon #4 Posted by superbsquid 7 years ago
the amount of different species on this planet is mind boggling
Comment icon #5 Posted by rattpoison 7 years ago
I wonder if there are other estimates about how long it will take.  In the end any estimates are just guesses, educated or not. And now I will say something that no one can disagree with:  It may, or may not, take 300 years to discover all the species of trees in the Amazon rain forest.
Comment icon #6 Posted by fromthedeepestjungle 7 years ago
They are looking for the certain one to drink from


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