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Amazon Rainforest’s 12,000 Tree Species Recorded in 300 Years, More Species Left to Discover

Jul 15, 2016 03:21 AM EDT
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Scientists have managed to study and record approximately 11,676 tree species in the Amazon Rainforest in over the past 300 years. However, there's still a lot more species left to discover and document. This is reportedly the first ever attempt to record tree species, as most studies have been focused on mammals and birds.

The study was originally published on Scientific Reports. Nigel Pitman, tropical forest ecologist of the Field Museum in Chicago and author of the study, claims this study is the first shot that focuses on tree diversity.

"Before this paper we didn't have a list of Amazonian trees," said Pitman, adding, "With this list we are answering 'How many species have been found?' and 'What are they?'"

Lead researcher and co-author Dr. Hans ter Steege claimed in a 2013 study that there were 16,000 tree species in the Amazon Rainforest. More than 500,000 specimens were analyzed, most of which dated back to the year 1707. Pitman along with his team officially released a checklist which contained 11,187 names of valid tree species. Around 489 valid tree species are known to occur in the Amazonian rainforest. Yet, data for these could not be found in records thus the tally took to 11,676.

"Since 1900, between 50 and 200 new trees have been discovered in the Amazon every year," Pitman said. "Our analysis suggests that we won't be done discovering new tree species there for three more centuries."

Pitman hopes that their intensive catalog of Amazonian Rainforest's tree species would serve as a basis other scientists could contribute to. The list of tree species would prove to be invaluable to scientists studying the Amazon that could also lead to conservation efforts of these species.

For now, scientists have a long way to go to recording more than 16,000 tree species said to be thriving in the lush Amazon Rainforest.

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