World needs a "barometer of natural life", say scientists

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London, Apr 10 (ANI): A group of well-known scientists has warned that the world needs a "barometer of life" for the prevention of ecosystems and species being lost forever.

In the journal Science, the boffins said that the existing schemes did not include enough species from groups such as fungi and invertebrates to provide a detailed picture of what is at risk.

According to them, the barometer would increase the number of species being assessed from almost 48,000 to 160,000.

The article was penned by four leading figures in conservation, including Harvard University's Edward O Wilson and Simon Stuart, chairman of the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC), reports The BBC.

"Knowledge about species and extinction rates remains very poor, and species disappear before we know they existed," they wrote.

To date, about 1.9m species have been described and given scientific names, but the actual number may exceed 10m.

The plan is for thousands of scientists to collect information on 160,000 of the world's nearly 2 million known species - from great mammals, fish and birds to obscure insects and fungi - chosen to be representative of life on Earth.

The index would more than triple the scope of what is alreadythe world's biggest scheme - the "red list" of extinct and endangered species published by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) - and would be updated every five years.

"As scientists are better able to assess the conservation status of the species that compose an ecosystem, the more they will understand the health of that ecosystem," they continued.

"It is time to accelerate taxanomy and scientific natural history, two of the most vital but neglected disciplines of biology."

"The barometer would broaden the reach of the Red List to make it representative of all life, that's what it's all about," Dr Stuart explained. (ANI)

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