Tree Tally

Digitalizing Data Helps Rainforest Census




ODM/Shutterstock.com

The Amazon rainforest is thought to harbor a greater diversity of trees than anywhere else on Earth, but the exact number has long been a mystery.

In 2013, scientists estimated that the number of species was around 16,000, but no actual count had been done. In a new paper in Scientific Reports, researchers delved into

museum collections from around the world to confirm the current number of tree species recorded in the Amazon and assess possibilities of those yet to be discovered.

“Since 1900, between 50 and 200 new trees have been discovered in the Amazon every year,” notes Nigel Pitman, a Mellon senior conservation ecologist with the Field Museum. “Our analysis suggests that we won’t finish discovering new tree species there for three more centuries.”

The study relied upon the digitization of museum collections data—photographs and digital records—of the specimens housed there and shared worldwide through aggregator sites like IDigBio.org. “It gives scientists a better sense of what’s actually growing in the Amazon Basin, aiding conservation efforts,” says Pitman.


This article appears in the December 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Content

Eco-Packaging Progress Report

Creative new options include carry-out containers made of wood pulp, baked-goods wrapping paper infused with antibacterial spices, and cardboard made of mushroom roots.

Ease Repetitive Strain Injuries

Any movement we do repeatedly, such as typing at a screen or keyboard, can cause muscle strain and injury, but the right kind of exercises can lower our risk and repair damage.

Kristi Nelson on Why Gratefulness Brings Happiness

It’s not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy, counsels the head of the Network for Grateful Living.

Raw Fruit and Veggies Key to Mental Health

Eating raw fruit and vegetables correlated more with psychological well-being in young adults than eating canned, cooked or processed produce.

Eating Well Protects Hearing

In a 22-year study of 33,000 women, Harvard researchers found that a healthy diet can lower the risk of moderate to severe hearing loss by nearly a third.

Add your comment: