The number of tree species on Earth

Roberto Cazzolla Gatti, Peter B. Reich, Javier G.P. Gamarra, Tom Crowther, Cang Hui, Albert Morera, Jean Francois Bastin, Sergio de-Miguel, Gert Jan Nabuurs, Jens Christian Svenning, Josep M. Serra-Diaz, Cory Merow, Brian Enquist, Maria Kamenetsky, Junho Lee, Jun Zhu, Jinyun Fang, Douglass F. Jacobs, Bryan Pijanowski, Arindam BanerjeeRobert A. Giaquinto, Giorgio Alberti, Angelica Maria Almeyda Zambrano, Esteban Alvarez-Davila, Alejandro Araujo-Murakami, Valerio Avitabile, Gerardo A. Aymard, Radomir Balazy, Chris Baraloto, Jorcely G. Barroso, Meredith L. Bastian, Philippe Birnbaum, Robert Bitariho, Jan Bogaert, Frans Bongers, Olivier Bouriaud, Pedro H.S. Brancalion, Francis Q. Brearley, Eben North Broadbent, Filippo Bussotti, Wendeson Castro da Silva, Ricardo Gomes César, Goran Češljar, Víctor Chama Moscoso, Han Y.H. Chen, Emil Cienciala, Connie J. Clark, David A. Coomes, Selvadurai Dayanandan, Mathieu Decuyper, Laura E. Dee, Jhon Del Aguila Pasquel, Géraldine Derroire, Marie Noel Kamdem Djuikouo, Tran van Do, Jiri Dolezal, Ilija Đorđevic, Julien Engel, Tom M. Fayle, Ted R. Feldpausch, Jonas K. Fridman, David J. Harris, Andreas Hemp, Geerten Hengeveld, Bruno Herault, Martin Herold, Thomas Ibanez, Andrzej M. Jagodzinski, Bogdan Jaroszewicz, Kathryn J. Jeffery, Vivian Kvist Johannsen, Tommaso Jucker, Ahto Kangur, Victor N. Karminov, Kuswata Kartawinata, Deborah K. Kennard, Sebastian Kepfer-Rojas, Gunnar Keppel, Mohammed Latif Khan, Pramod Kumar Khare, Timothy J. Kileen, Hyun Seok Kim, Henn Korjus, Amit Kumar, Ashwani Kumar, Diana Laarmann, Nicolas Labrière, Mait Lang, Simon L. Lewis, Natalia Lukina, Brian S. Maitner, Yadvinder Malhi, Andrew R. Marshall, Olga V. Martynenko, Abel L. Monteagudo Mendoza, Petr V. Ontikov, Edgar Ortiz-Malavasi, Nadir C. Pallqui Camacho, Alain Paquette, Minjee Park, Narayanaswamy Parthasarathy, Pablo Luis Peri, Pascal Petronelli, Sebastian Pfautsch, Oliver L. Phillips, Nicolas Picard, Daniel Piotto, Lourens Poorter, John R. Poulsen, Hans Pretzsch, Hirma Ramírez-Angulo, Zorayda Restrepo Correa, Mirco Rodeghiero, Rocío Del Pilar Rojas Gonzáles, Samir G. Rolim, Francesco Rovero, Ervan Rutishauser, Purabi Saikia, Christian Salas-Eljatib, Dmitry Schepaschenko, Michael Scherer-Lorenzen, Vladimír Šebeň, Marcos Silveira, Ferry Slik, Bonaventure Sonké, Alexandre F. Souza, Krzysztof Jan Stereńczak, Miroslav Svoboda, Hermann Taedoumg, Nadja Tchebakova, John Terborgh, Elena Tikhonova, Armando Torres-Lezama, Fons van der Plas, Rodolfo Vásquez, Helder Viana, Alexander C. Vibrans, Emilio Vilanova, Vincent A. Vos, Hua Feng Wang, Bertil Westerlund, Lee J.T. White, Susan K. Wiser, Tomasz Zawiła-Niedźwiecki, Lise Zemagho, Zhi Xin Zhu, Irié C. Zo-Bi, Jingjing Liang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

One of the most fundamental questions in ecology is how many species inhabit the Earth. However, due to massive logistical and financial challenges and taxonomic difficulties connected to the species concept definition, the global numbers of species, including those of important and well-studied life forms such as trees, still remain largely unknown. Here, based on global ground-sourced data, we estimate the total tree species richness at global, continental, and biome levels. Our results indicate that there are ∼73,000 tree species globally, among which ∼9,000 tree species are yet to be discovered. Roughly 40% of undiscovered tree species are in South America. Moreover, almost one-third of all tree species to be discovered may be rare, with very low populations and limited spatial distribution (likely in remote tropical lowlands and mountains). These findings highlight the vulnerability of global forest biodiversity to anthropogenic changes in land use and climate, which disproportionately threaten rare species and thus, global tree richness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2115329119
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume119
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 8 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Biodiversity
  • Forests
  • Hyperdominance
  • Rarity
  • Richness

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