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How do we protect what we don’t know exists?
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How many species are there on Earth? In biology, this is one of a fundamental question that we still don’t have a very good answer for. Imagine if chemists didn’t know all the elements of the periodic table, or if physicists didn’t know all of the particles of the standard model. Knowing how many different species there are is information we need to know in order to protect the environment, but it’s a lot harder than you think!
Check out last week’s video, where we find a weird caterpillar in the Peruvian Amazon and ask “How do you discover a new species?”
Costello, Mark J., Robert M. May, and Nigel E. Stork. "Can we name Earth's species before they go extinct?." Science 339.6118 (2013): 413-416.
Locey, Kenneth J., and Jay T. Lennon. "Scaling laws predict global microbial diversity." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2016): 201521291.
May, Robert M. "The future of biological diversity in a crowded world." Current Science 82.11 (2002): 1325-1330.
May, Robert M. "How many species inhabit the earth." Scientific American 267.4 (1992): 42-48.
Mora, Camilo, et al. "How many species are there on Earth and in the ocean?." PLoS Biol 9.8 (2011): e1001127.
Stork, Nigel E. "How many species are there?." Biodiversity and Conservation 2.3 (1993): 215-232.
It’s Okay To Be Smart is written and hosted by Joe Hanson, Ph.D.
Director: Joe Nicolosi
Editor/animator/producer: Andrew Matthews
Producer: Stephanie Noone and Amanda Fox
Twitter: @okaytobesmart @DrJoeHanson
Produced by PBS Digital Studios
Music via APM
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