"Here are two quiz questions for you. How many species of animals, plants,
fungi, fish, insects and other organisms live in Australia? And how many of
these have been discovered and named?
To the first, the answer is we don’t really know. But the best guess of
taxonomists – the scientists who discover, name, classify and document species
– is that Australia’s lands, rivers, coasts and oceans probably house more than
700,000 distinct species.
On the second, taxonomists estimate almost 200,000 species have been
scientifically named since Europeans first began exploring, collecting and
classifying Australia’s remarkable fauna and flora.
Together, these estimates are disturbing. After more than 300 years of effort,
scientists have documented fewer than one-third of Australia’s species. The
remaining 70% are unknown, and essentially invisible, to science.
Taxonomists in Australia name an average 1,000 new species each year. At that
rate, it will take at least 400 years to complete even a first-pass stocktake
of Australia’s biodiversity.
This poor knowledge is a serious threat to Australia’s environment. And a
first-of-its kind report released today shows it’s also a huge missed economic
opportunity. That’s why today, Australia’s taxonomists are calling on
governments, industry and the community to support an important mission:
discovering and documenting all Australian species within 25 years."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics