List of all creatures, large and small: First universal 'list of species' on Earth, in the making
No single, agreed-upon list of species exists. Researchers say some iconic animals even have competing lists.
Scientists have put forth a plan to create the first universally-recognised list of species on Earth, in an attempt to erase any confusion on classifications of flora and fauna on the planet.
According to the report, Professor Stephen Garnett of Charles Darwin University, the paper's lead author said, "Currently no single, agreed list of species is available."
Instead, some iconic groups of organisms have several competing lists, he adds.
The 10-point plan aims to create an authoritative list of the world's species which would improve global efforts to tackle biodiversity loss, trade in endangered species, biosecurity and conservation, the Guardian reports.
The report highlights the need for such a list by bringing to the fore scientific evidence indicating the African elephant could be two species – the forest elephant and the savanna elephant. Organisations like the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) acknowledge only one of the two.
The new paper outlines a potential solution to the problem.
Dr Kevin Thiele, Director of Taxonomy Australia and a co-author on the paper, said that the list "clearly defines the roles of taxonomists – the scientists who discover, name and classify species – and stakeholders such as conservationists and government and international agencies."
Thiele adds, "While taxonomists would have the final say on how to recognize and name species, the process ensures that stakeholders' needs are considered when deciding between differing taxonomic opinions."
According to Garnett, the list is an important step in managing and conserving all the world's species.
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