The number of tree species on Earth

Roberto Cazzolla Gatti, Peter B. Reich, Javier G.P. Gamarra, Tom Crowther, Cang Hui, Albert Morera, Jean Francois Bastin, Sergio de-Miguel, Gert Jan Nabuurs, Jens Christian Svenning, Josep M. Serra-Diaz, Cory Merow, Brian Enquist, Maria Kamenetsky, Junho Lee, Jun Zhu, Jinyun Fang, Douglass F. Jacobs, Bryan Pijanowski, Arindam BanerjeeRobert A. Giaquinto, Giorgio Alberti, Angelica Maria Almeyda Zambrano, Esteban Alvarez-Davila, Alejandro Araujo-Murakami, Valerio Avitabile, Gerardo A. Aymard, Radomir Balazy, Chris Baraloto, Jorcely G. Barroso, Meredith L. Bastian, Philippe Birnbaum, Robert Bitariho, Jan Bogaert, Frans Bongers, Olivier Bouriaud, Pedro H.S. Brancalion, Francis Q. Brearley, Eben North Broadbent, Filippo Bussotti, Wendeson Castro da Silva, Ricardo Gomes César, Goran Češljar, Víctor Chama Moscoso, Han Y.H. Chen, Emil Cienciala, Connie J. Clark, David A. Coomes, Selvadurai Dayanandan, Mathieu Decuyper

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One of the most fundamental questions in ecology is how many species inhabit the Earth. However, due to massive logistical and financial challenges and taxonomic difficulties connected to the species concept definition, the global numbers of species, including those of important and well-studied life forms such as trees, still remain largely unknown. Here, based on global ground-sourced data, we estimate the total tree species richness at global, continental, and biome levels. Our results indicate that there are ∼73,000 tree species globally, among which ∼9,000 tree species are yet to be discovered. Roughly 40% of undiscovered tree species are in South America. Moreover, almost one-third of all tree species to be discovered may be rare, with very low populations and limited spatial distribution (likely in remote tropical lowlands and mountains). These findings highlight the vulnerability of global forest biodiversity to anthropogenic changes in land use and climate, which disproportionately threaten rare species and thus, global tree richness.

TidsskriftProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Antal sider11
StatusUdgivet - feb. 2022


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