1 Tahrcountry Musings: One in Four of All Flowering Plants are Under Threat of Extinction

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

One in Four of All Flowering Plants are Under Threat of Extinction

The results of recent research published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B makes disturbing reading. One in four of all flowering plants are under threat of extinction. The figures are truly alarming.
The research was headed by Stuart Pimm of Duke University in North Carolina, David Roberts, of the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology and Lucas Joppa of Microsoft Research in Cambridge.
The researchers’ initially carried out an independent review of how many flowering exist. The team calculated that against the “best estimate" of 352,282 flowering plants there are another 10-20%, or 35,000-70,000, which are yet to be officially discovered.
The next step to assess the level of threats from habitat loss arising from clearing land for planting crops or trees, development and indirect causes like falling groundwater levels and pollution. The researchers say that new species are likely to be found in "biodiversity hotspots", where there are huge numbers of endemic species and a high level of habitat loss. Based on this assumption they estimated that all so-far-undiscovered flowering plants were also at risk.
According to researchers if the number of species that are currently known to be threatened are added to that those that are yet to be discovered, we arrive at an estimate that between 27% and 33% of all flowering plants will be threatened with extinction. These estimates are based on immediate threat, and do not consider further development of destructive factors, including climate disruption.

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