Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New species literally spend decades on the shelf

Date:
November 19, 2012
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Many of the world's most unfamiliar species are just sitting around on museum shelves collecting dust. That's according to a new report showing that it takes more than 20 years on average before a species, newly collected, will be described.

Many of the world's most unfamiliar species are just sitting around on museum shelves collecting dust. That's according to a report in the November 20th issue of the Cell Press journal Current Biology showing that it takes more than 20 years on average before a species, newly collected, will be described.

It's a measure the researchers refer to as the species' "shelf life," and that long shelf life means that any conservation attempts for unknown, threatened species could come much too late. The problem, the researchers say, is due to a lack of experts and of the funding and resources needed to do the job.

"Species new to science are almost never recognized as such in the field," says Benoξt Fontaine of Musιum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris. "Our study explains why it often happens that we describe species which were collected alive decades ago and which can be extinct now -- just as astronomers study the light of stars which do not exist anymore."

Part of the problem is that many species are rare and may be represented in collections by a single specimen. Taxonomists will usually wait until more specimens of any new species are available before they will describe it. In that sense, increased effort to seek out new species and specimens in the field would help to move things along in the world's museums and herbaria, the researchers say.

Fontaine and his colleagues calculated shelf life based on a random sample of 600 species described in the year 2007. The data show that those species had a shelf life of 20.7 years on average, with a median of 12 years. Shelf life did vary according to biological, social, and geopolitical biases, they report. In fact, amateurs as a group describe new species more rapidly today than professionals do.

The findings come as yet another reminder of how much there still is to do when it comes to understanding and protecting the diversity of species on Earth.

"Our knowledge of biodiversity is still very scarce," Fontaine says. "Describing new species is -- or should be -- part of the everyday work of taxonomists, and we need to hurry; new species are disappearing faster than we can describe them."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Benoξt Fontaine, Adrien Perrard, Philippe Bouchet. 21 years of shelf life between discovery and description of new species. Current Biology, 2012; 22 (22): R943 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.10.029

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "New species literally spend decades on the shelf." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121119132226.htm>.
Cell Press. (2012, November 19). New species literally spend decades on the shelf. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121119132226.htm
Cell Press. "New species literally spend decades on the shelf." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121119132226.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) — Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) — Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins