Researchers hope estimates of conservation cost will spur government action.
[FIJI] Indo-Pacific nations stand to make millions of dollars from medical applications of resources from marine invertebrates such as sponges and soft corals, researchers say.
But they warn that better regulation of such resources is needed to ensure they are used sustainably.
Substances generated by some marine invertebrates have the potential to be used in drugs to treat diseases like cancer, and exploration for these resources is expected to rise in response to escalating demands for such drugs, said Miguel Costa Leal, biologist at the University of Aveiro in Portugal and lead author of a study in PLoS One (20 January).
From the time Columbus discovered the new world in 1492, the connection of the new world and the old world and the transfer of biological material between these worlds profoundly changed, the scale, nature and political significance of exchanges and also the course of human development (Wynberg and laird 2009).
The Atlas Miller map
Wynberg, R. Laird, S. (2009) Bioprospecting, access and benefit sharing: revisiting the grand Bargin
Bioprospecting is only one part of the overall biodiversity conservation picture, and possibly quite a small part. Biodiversity is to be valued for many reasons, some of which relate to its uses and some of which do not (see Figure 1). As exciting as the prospect of new drug discovery may be, for both the potential health benefits and the potential financial returns, biodiversity conservation cannot be predicated upon this possibility alone.
Researchers from The University of Nottingham have demonstrated how a species of flatworm overcomes the aging process to be potentially immortal.
The discovery, published in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is part of a project funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Medical Research Council (MRC) and may shed light on the possibilities of alleviating aging and age-related characteristics in human cells. Planarian worms have amazed scientists with their apparently limitless ability to regenerate. Researchers have been studying their ability to replace aged or damaged tissues and cells in a bid to understand the mechanisms underlying their longevity.
Human Evolution: Tracing Our Origins with DNA
Michael Hammer, Research Scientist, Division of Biotechnology and Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology discusses the latest discoveries about the origin of our species, including the intriguing possibility of interbreeding between our ancestors and Neandertals.
Underground River discovered below Amazon
Brazil’s National Observatory believes that it’s found an enormous underground river flowing 4km below the Amazon rainforest.
By studying temperature variations at inactive oil wells drilled in the 70s and 80s by the state-owned Petrobras oil company, geoscientists obtained data showing the movement of water far below the course of the Amazon river on the surface. It’s thought to be about 6,000km long, which would make it about the same length as the Amazon.
It’s been named after Valiya Mannathal Hamza, who led the research team that made the discovery, and has been studying the region for more than four decades. The Hamza river flows west to east, like its surface counterpart, but it has a flow rate calculated to be around 3,000 cubic metres per second — which is a mere three percent of the Amazon river itself.
That’s still plenty, though — more than 46 times the flow of the Thames in London — and it represents a secondary drainage system for the Amazon basin.
It’s thought to empty into the Atlantic Ocean deep below the surface, and a statement released by the research team claimed it could be responsible for the low levels of salinity found in the waters around the mouth of the Amazon.
The big question I’m asking is, are the any interesting Flora & fauna in this underwater River. I would like to think so, if there are a multitude of unique organisms found in deep underwater oceanic vent then it’s not to difficult to hypothesize that interesting organisms can be found here. Organisms that have evolved/ adapted novel compounds and life history found no where else on this planet. Oh the possibilities.
There are approximately 8.7 million species currently on earth a study estimates
A recent Study says millions of species still to be discovered
* Scientists say time running as extinction soar
* Result points to urgency in finding new life
By David Fogarty
SINGAPORE, Aug 24 (Reuters) - Scientists have yet to discover, or classify, about 90 percent of the plant and animal species on Earth, which is estimated to be home to just under 9 million species, a study says.
The study, published in the open-access journal PLoS Biology on Wednesday , vastly increases the estimated richness of life on the planet. More than 1.2 million species have been formally described and named so far.
Scientists have long tried to classify life on Earth and to finally figure out how many species there are but estimates have varied wildly from 3 million to 100 million.
The quest is no mere scientific fancy. Humans derive huge benefits from the richness of life on the planet, from foods to medicines, to clean air and water. Knowing how many species there are and taking steps to ramp up the search and description could lead to more discoveries that benefit mankind.
The recent surge in extinction rates only made the quest more urgent, the scientists said
“With the clock of extinction now ticking faster for many species, I believe speeding the inventory of Earth’s species merits high scientific and societal priority,” said Camilo Mora of the University of Hawaii and Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, who led the study.
Some U.N. studies say the world is facing the worst losses since the dinosaurs vanished 65 million years ago.
Species are classified according to a 250-year-old taxonomy system. This groups life into a pyramid-like hierarchy, with species at the base, then genus, family, order, class, phylum, kingdom and domain.
Mora and team studied existing species databases and taxonomic data. They wanted to see if there were numerical patterns in the rankings, working on the assumption the higher taxonomic categories, meaning those at the top of the pyramid, are much more completely described than those as the bottom.
They examined well-known groups and found the relative numbers of species assigned to phylum, class, order, family and genus follow consistent patterns.
Applying this pattern to less well-studied groups could yield a reasonable estimate of total species numbers.
The result was 6.5 million species on land and 2.2 million in the ocean depths. The study had a error margin of 1.3 million in total.
The results suggested 86 percent of existing species on land and 91 percent of species in the ocean still await description, the scientists concluded.
“The diversity of life is one of the most striking aspects of our planet,” the scientists say in the study. “Hence knowing how many species inhabit Earth is among the most fundamental questions in science. Yet the answer to this question remains enigmatic.”
Writing in an accompanying commentary to the research, Robert May of the Zoology Department at Oxford University lamented the rapid rate of species loss, due to land clearing, pollution, climate change and other factors.
“It is a remarkable testament to humanity’s narcissism that we know the number of books in the U.S. Library of Congress on 1 February 2011 was 22,194,656,” wrote May, until recently the president of The Royal Society.
But it was remarkable that science “cannot tell you to within an order-of-magnitude how many distinct species of plants and animals we share our world with,” he added.
(Editing by Miral Fahmy)
This is where biopropecting & marine bioprospecting should come into play. Big business & science will only truly mix if you can make commercially effective products coupled with sustainable business approaches. Biological sensing & funding with the goal of finding new commercially viable species is a good idea. Policies should be designed to ensure a viable Percentage of any gain goes directly into conservation funding. Imagine all of the countless possibilities in that vast species list of new food, medical & industrial staples. This all fundamentally equates to commerce.