Location: Systematic Entomology LaboratoryTitle: Mapping the Biosphere: exploring species to understand the origin, organization, and sustainability of biodiversity) Author
Submitted to: Trends in Ecology and Evolution
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/6/2012
Publication Date: 3/27/2012
Citation: Wheeler, Q.D., Knapp, S., Stevenson, D.W., Stevenson, J.W., Raven, P.H., Wilson, E.O., Woolley, J.B., Solis, M.A. 2012. Mapping the Biosphere: exploring species to understand the origin, organization, and sustainability of biodiversity. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 10(1):1-20. Interpretive Summary: About 2,000,000 species of organisms are known on earth and another 20,000 new plants and animals are described each year, many of these are agriculturally important insects. This paper proposes a mission to discover all plant and animal species on Earth and map their distributions in its biosphere. It concludes that theoretical, technological, and collaborative advances make attainable the discovery and description of 10 million new species in less than 50 years. The resultant cyber-enabled taxonomy, or cybertaxonomy, would be useful and provide open access to biodiversity data to developing nations, empower amateur scientists, and change how scientists and citizens access, use, and think about biological diversity information.
Technical Abstract: The time is ripe for a comprehensive mission to explore and document Earth’s species. We conclude that a goal to describe 10 million new species in less than 50 years is attainable based on the strength of 250 years of progress, worldwide collections, existing experts, technological innovation, and collaborative teamwork. Charting the biosphere is enormously complex, yet necessary expertise can be found through partnerships with engineers, informaticists, sociologists, ecologists, climate scientists, conservation biologists, industrial project managerss, and taxon specialists from agrostologists to zoophytologists. Benefits to society of the proposed mission would be profound, immediate, and enduring, from detection of early responses of flora and fauna to climate change to opening access to evolutionary designs for solutions to countless practical problems. The resultant cyber-enabled taxonomy, or cybertaxonomy, would provide open access to biodiversity data to developing nations, empower amateur scientists, and change how and citizens alike access, use, and think about biological diversity information.