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You Can Name an Extinct Animal. How About a Plant?

13 June 2019

The big number: At least 571 plant species have gone extinct since 1750, more than twice the number of extinct birds, mammals, and amphibians combined in the same span, reports the BBC.

"It is way more than we knew and way more than should have gone extinct", coauthor Maria Vorontsova of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in the United Kingdom tells The Guardian.

Compiling data from the literature, worldwide databases, and museum specimens, Vorontsova and her colleagues surveyed more than 330,000 species to document the losses.

Researchers snarl their diagnosis of all documented plant extinctions on this planet reveals what lessons might perhaps well also very well be learned to cease future extinctions. "[The] results are enormously significant".

The study found that 571 plant species have disappeared in the last two and a half centuries - four times more than the current listing of extinct plants.

Many people can name a bird or a mammal that has become extinct in recent centuries, but few can name a plant that has suffered the same fate.

Originally, more than 1,000 plants were believed to have perished forever, but when scientists looked for them, they found they were still present.

Plant extinction is unsightly news for all species, mentioned Dr Eimear Nic Lughadha, co-researcher and conservation scientist at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. The researchers said the plant extinction rate was 500 times greater now than before the industrial revolution, and this was also likely to be an underestimate.

One in five of world's plant species at risk of extinction. Thousands of species are on the brink, and others may already be extinct but are awaiting confirmation. According to the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens website, the central cause is - unsurprisingly - human activity.

"To stop plant extinction, we need to record all the plants across the world - the naming of new species is a critical piece of the puzzle in the wider push to prioritize conservation of our precious natural world for generations to come", co-author Maria S. Vorontsova said.

A plan of plant extinctions produced by the team shows that flowers in areas of high biodiversity and burgeoning human populations, akin to Madagascar, the Brazilian rainforests, India and South Africa, are most in peril (leer "Extinction sample"). "This new understanding of plant extinction will help us predict (and try to predict) future extinctions of plants, as well as other organisms".

The authors of the study stressed that plants depend on millions of other species, including humans.

The tropics are especially biodiverse, and because they start off with a higher number of species, it's expected that they will also see higher rates of extinction.

"If the English oak were to go extinct, there are around 400 species and animals that rely on it, so the implications are far wider than just losing one species".

Dr Prefer Salguero-Gómez, of the College of Oxford, who used to be no longer section of the understanding, mentioned thought the how, where, and why of plant loss used to be of paramount importance, no longer simply for ecologists but moreover for human societies.

You Can Name an Extinct Animal. How About a Plant?