New Species Found, But Many More Lost

Alan Boyle, one of our favorite science bloggers, posted recently on Cosmic Log about The California Academy of Science’s report that it had described 140 new species in 2011. The new species include 72 arthropods, 31 sea slugs, 13 fishes, 11 plants, nine sponges, three corals, and one reptile. Boyle shares some stunning photographs of these species with readers and goes on to discuss similar efforts in which hundreds and perhaps even thousands more species have been identified by researchers around the world.

While this is good news, the sad truth is that we continue to suffer catastrophic losses in biodiversity at the same time that these new species are being discovered. Boyle provides an example that really brings it home: one out of every six species related to the characters in the movie "Finding Nemo" is facing extinction, according to researchers at Simon Fraser University and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. How sad is that?

Research funded by The National Science Foundation and published in Nature last year concluded that biodiversity loss is detrimental to human health as researchers found that species loss in ecosystems such as forests and fields results in increases in disease-causing organisms, such as those that transmit West Nile virus and hantavirus. Loss of marine biodiversity also has a negative impact on our food supply.

Boyle’s post concludes with a list of other posts on Cosmic Log on the same topic, all worth reading, especially the one about the Sambas Stream toad, once presumed lost but recently rediscovered in Malaysian Borneo, 87 years after it was last sighted.

Photo Credit: Clipart.com


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