According to a predictive model developed by the University of Georgia (USA) on Earth there would be some 300 species of mammals that have not yet been discovered, mostly concentrated in tropical regions.
"With extinction rates on the rise, it is extremely important to be able to find new species before they disappear if we want to be able to understand the world we live in," says Molly Fisher, Ph.D. candidate at the University of Georgia School of Ecology and lead author. of the study.
The model developed is based on the relationship between the number of published species descriptions and the number and efficiency of taxonomists (the scientists who describe and classify species) working at any given time.
From 1760 to 2010
Fisher has analyzedrecords of mammalian species descriptions from 1760 to 2010 and has counted how many taxonomists were working and how many species descriptions were published every five years within that period. "With this method we can see the pattern of how many species are described and how it is related to the number of taxonomists who are working in a period of time," he says.
The statistical technique used to develop the model is known as maximum likelihood. "The maximum likelihood estimate calculates how many species are likely to have produced the pattern of description that we have seen," adds Fisher.
After several tests, when applying the model with real data,obtained 5,860 species of mammals that currently exist, more than what was believed. They then subtracted the number of known species of mammals to arrive at the number of 303 yet to be discovered.
Discoveries by geographic region
His next step was to apply his model to species by geographic region with species distribution maps from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Their results indicate thatthe tropics contain the largest number of species overall, including lesser known species, and that the Palearctic region, which consists mainly of Eurasia, contains the highest percentage of undiscovered species.
This research would guide the efforts of scientists to discover and protect these possible species.
With information from: