DNA Barcoding

How many species exist on Earth?

How many species exist on Earth? Well, no one really knows exactly, but there are some reasonable estimates. One figure, estimated by the Census of Marine Life Scientists, is posited to be at 8.7 million based on taxonomic methodology.  Of this 8.7 million, at least 85% of the species on land and in sea still have yet to be identified and cataloged. It is amazing to think that we only know about 15% of the life found on Earth.  There remains much to be discovered.

Recently, researchers at the Smithsonian used the method of DNA barcoding to identify 168 crab species  More >

Pinus strobus EOL

The Encyclopedia of Life

Documenting the biological diversity of our planet is a challenging task. It implies information collection and organization of millions of species, their genetic diversity and their interactions in biological communities and ecosystems. It also implies coordination among multiple institutions and thousands of scientists, environmentalists, and professionals working with biodiversity.

In 2007, Dr. Edward O. Wilson’s speech as the recipient of the TED Prize potentiated the creation of the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL), an international effort to gather together all human knowledge of Earth’s biodiversity.  EOL’s mission is “to increase awareness and understanding of living nature through an encyclopedia that gathers, generates, More >

Got a shovel?

In the field of forensics, scientists can tell the story of how, when and where certain outdoor crimes occurred by analyzing the soil and its contents.  One of its contents includes DNA.  DNA from the victim or suspect can be recovered from the soil at a crime scene. In addition, DNA from other animals can be recovered in these same locations as animals slough off cells from their skin and waste.

According to a recent study in Molecular Ecology, scientists have shown that DNA fragments found in the soil can not only determine what species occupy a given area, but also More >

Fungi_of_Saskatchewan Wikipedia

How Many Species are on Earth?

For several years scientists have tried to estimate the number of species living on Earth. This is not an easy question to answer and multiple approaches have been developed to calculate how large Earth’s biodiversity is. All of the estimates obtained so far have a large prediction range, hundreds of thousands or even millions of species from the smallest estimates to the largest ones. On top of this shaming ignorance, our planet’s biodiversity is highly threatened. Solid evidence indicates that we are facing a massive extinction event, driven unfortunately by our own activities. The most recent evidence indicates that a More >