Over 25% of flowers face extinction

25% of flowers face extinction: hat tip to Byron Smith

The giant carnivorous plant, Nepenthes attenboroughii, is under threat of extinction – along with 25% of all others on earth. Photograph: Redfern Natural History/PA

More than one-in-four of all flowering plants are under threat of extinction according to the latest report to confirm the ongoing destruction of much of the natural world by human activity.

As a result, many of nature’s most colourful specimens could be lost to the world before scientists even discover them, claims the research, published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The results reflect similar global studies of other species groups by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which estimates that one-in-five of all mammals, nearly one-in-three amphibians and one-in-eight birds are vulnerable to being wiped out completely. Later this year the results of a huge global analysis of all the world’s estimated up to 400,000 plants by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is due to be published by the IUCN as part of its ongoing mission to assess the state of all life on Earth.

“[This year] marks the International Year of Biodiversity,” said Stuart Pimm of Duke University in North Carolina, USA, one of the authors of the report. “The focus of this celebration has often been on the species we know of, along with discussions on the unprecedented challenge of conserving this biodiversity in the face of threats such as habitat loss. However, by asking just how many species we will lose before they are even discovered, our study has revealed a figure that is truly alarming.”

The researchers started by carrying out an independent review of how many flowering plants – which make up most of the plant kingdom – exist. By considering the rate at which new specimens are being described to science, adjusted to reflect the growing number of scientists over the years, and interviewing experts who focus on different groups such as orchids, irises or grasses, the team calculated that on top of the existing “best estimate” of 352,282 flowering plants there are another 10-20%, or 35,000-70,000, which have still to be officially discovered.

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“Plants are the basis for much of life on earth with virtually all other species depending on them; if you get rid of those you get rid of a lot of the things above them,” added Roberts.

Over 25% of flowers face extinction – many before they are even discovered | Environment | The Guardian.

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