99 scientists join forces to find out the “bottom of the family” of more than 10,000 plants

Recently, 99 botanists collaborated to strictly classify the plant diversity of the tubes in New Guinea, establishing the first expert-validated list of tube plants on the New Guinean continent and surrounding islands and making them available to the world. The list includes 13,634 species, 1742 genus and 264 coriveplants, indicating that New Guinea is the world’s most plant-rich island, the paper published online August 5 in Nature.

Photo Charlie Heatubun in the lowland rainforest of New Guinea.

Species diversity is unparalleled.

“This list brings together specialist researchers from around the world to assess, proofread and supplement the accuracy and comprehensiveness of species, and the data are very reliable.”

Wei Ran, an associate researcher at the Institute of Plant Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and one of the editors of the list, told China Science Daily that this is the largest and most complete list of plant species in the region.

The list not only records species names, but also data on the geographical distribution of each species, habitat information, and habits of life.

New Guinea is the eastern malay islands, located north of Australia, the western Pacific Ocean, the southern side of the equator.

The island in geological history by the Oceania plate and the Indian Ocean plate collision, and geographically located near the world famous Wallace biota, so the diversity of flora and fauna is extremely complex, including the old world’s flora and fauna, but also has the characteristics of the Australian New Territories flora and fauna, many species are the world’s rare and endangered species.

“New Guinea is the only island in South-East Asia where there are more endemic species than non-endemic species.”

The list proves that the local level of plants on New Guinea island is unmatched in the tropical regions of Asia, the paper’s author, Rodrigo C?mara Leret, a professor in the Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies at the University of Zurich, told China Science.

Bulbophyllum Nockuntum, for example, is a strange orchid found by researchers on the island, which blooms at night and fades at sunrise, making it the first orchid species to date to bloom at night.

Musa ingens holds the record for the largest and highest non-woody plant in the world, with a stem height of 15 meters, a circumsal length of 2 meters and a fruit of more than 1.5 kilograms, which is thicker than the average person’s arm.

In addition, new Guinea currently has more than 2,800 species of orchids currently recorded, while the potential for new species of Lanco, which has not yet been discovered, is one of the most diverse in the world, providing a corresponding material basis for studying the origin and diversity of orchid plants and the rational protection and utilization of Lanco flower resources.

Expert knowledge and big data “happiness marriage”

From mangroves to savannah savannas, New Guinea has formed a plant home with a complete ecological gradient, but due to its special geographical location, complex geographical environment and large area, in-depth exploration and survey of the island’s biological resources has become extremely difficult.

Previously, the scientific community’s estimates of the number of plant species on the main island of New Guinea and its surrounding islands ranged from 9,000 to 25,000, based on a list of names or estimates.

To narrow this, the study brought together researchers from Switzerland, the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Australia, Papua New Guinea and other countries to double-check and supplement the names, distributions, related innames, classification history, and endangered status on the list.

The researchers first used online platforms such as the world’s major botanical garden databases to collect and proofread the data and compile it into a list of plant names.

After standardizing botany names, nearly 25,000 species names from more than 700,000 specimens were examined to assess whether they were correctly parsed by the online platform.

Eventually, the list provided by the researchers was used to independently compare the list with the list in Plants of The World Online, a literature-based portal designed to cover all tube plants, to confirm the quality of the checklist.

“Databases provide us with a lot of data, which is not possible in the human brain, and databases cannot assess the accuracy of their data, so the human brain has to be processed, processed and used,” he said. Our compilation of a list of plant species on New Guinea and its surrounding islands reflects the organic combination of data and the human brain, which complement each other and complement each other. “

Rodrigo likened the massive, ground-breaking process to the “happiness marriage” of expert knowledge and big data.

In particular, he cautions that the number of species will expand by 22 per cent if online classification resources are relied on alone, and that more collaboration between botanists and online platforms is needed to reduce uncertainty at the online platform, or “technical” level, in order to improve the quality of online resources.

Support for diversity protection.

“Species discovery is a natural process in human society, understanding what the plants around us are, how they are distributed, and whether they are useful, and are at the heart of human existence.”

According to Rodrigo, the discovery of plant species diversity in New Guinea is not only a basic knowledge of plants, but also an important pillar of culture and basic research.

It can serve as a basis for the IUCN red list assessment, or it can be used to simulate the effects of climate change and land use on species distribution, providing important information for biodiversity conservation policies and decisions.

Wei Ran told reporters that the development of this work will provide valuable information for in-depth study of the origin and evolution of tropical flora in Asia and Australia.

He also mentioned that the island’s aggressive man-made activities, particularly agricultural activities such as “burning” in the area, had caused extreme damage to the primary forest areas at low and medium altitudes, leading to a sharp decline in biodiversity and destruction of ecosystems.

Therefore, an understanding of plant diversity alone is not enough, and biodiversity conservation and maintenance studies in the island-related areas still need to be continued.

Source: Ko Life.

Author: Li Rongru.