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ผู้เขียน หัวข้อ: Marine Life Census sheds light upon ocean biodiversity  (อ่าน 3031 ครั้ง)
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« เมื่อ: สิงหาคม 17, 2010, 09:17:32 AM »


The waters of Japan and Australia are thought to be the most varied. (Photo: Sea Education Association/coml.org)

Marine Life Census sheds light upon ocean biodiversity

WORLDWIDE
Tuesday, August 17, 2010, 00:30 (GMT + 9)


Crabs, lobsters and other crustaceans are now believed to be the most common species in the seas of Australia and Japan, whose waters are thought of as the most varied according to a marine life census which has recently been released.
 
"As a result of this latest discovery, we have learned new things," the AFP was told by Jesse Ausubel, founder of the Marine Life Census, who has also compiled extensive research himself.
 
The waters of Japan and Australia are home to around 33,000 different life forms that have been elevated to the category of "species."
 
The waters of China, the Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico are also in the top five most biologically diverse marine regions, according to a preliminary census in the public opening of data in the Public Library of Science (PLoS ONE).
 
The ambitious census will see an investigation with 360 scientists taking part, the projected cost is believed to be around USD 650 million over ten years.
 
The scientists have combined information collected over centuries, with new data obtained during the census. Which will create a list of species in 25 regions, from the Antarctic to the Arctic, through temperate and tropical seas.
 The investigation will be supplemented with information gathered in regions such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Madagascar and the Arabian Sea in a larger paper to be released in October.
 
Even then, the investigation is incomplete, said Nancy Knowlton, from the Smithsonian Institution which is responsible for researching coral reefs. "The ocean is just so huge that after ten years of hard work, we still only have snapshots, but some of which are very detailed," said Knowlton.
 
So far, the study found an average of 10,750 known species in specified regions, and researchers believe that for every known species, there are at least four yet to be discovered.
 
And the recent findings which show crustaceans to be the most numerous, will change the way that humans exploit the sea.
 
"When people think of the ocean, we think of fish and whales," Ausubel said. "But the big mammals represent only 2 per cent of the total diversity and fish a surprsingly low 12 per cent. We should first  think of crustaceans and mollusks," he added.
 
Almost a fifth of all the marine life are crustaceans, closely followed by shellfish, squid, octopus and snails, which represent 17 per cent of the total. Then, with 12 per cent, there is the family of fish, including sharks. The unicellular organisms of the protozoa and algae families as well as other types of organisms which shape plants, are located in fourth place with 10 per cent. Among others are echinoderms such as the starfish, sand dollars and sea cucumbers. Porifera, including sponges and cnidarians, such as sea anemones, corals and jellyfish.
 
Popular marine mammals such as whales are included in the vertebrates category "other," with only a small portion of the marine biodiversity.
 
The algae, protozoa, birds and marine mammals that continually cross the world's oceans are considered the most cosmopolitan species, as found in more than one region.
 
Sloane's viperfish (Chauliodus sloani) are found in more than a quarter of the world's oceans.
 
The relatively isolated waters of Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica and South Africa have the largest number of endemic species, or which are unique to that area. By contrast, the Mediterranean has more "exotic" creatures: with more than 600 species, many of which came from other places.
 
A key reason for compiling this marine life inventory was to catalog species which are endangered.
 
"Marine species have suffered major declines in some cases, as losses can be upto 90 per cent, mainly due to human activities which will drive them to extinction, as has happened with many of the species on land," said Mark Costello of Auckland University, New Zealand, as he explaining the urgency to complete the inventory.
 
AFP
 
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