The world’s botanical gardens harbor more than 30 percent of all known plant species, providing a haven for both threatened and endangered flora.
A team from the University of Cambridge made this discovery by analyzing a series of datasets compiled by Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI). This allowed them to cross-reference the list of all known plant species — which currently sits at 350,699 — with the species records from a third of botanic gardens on the planet, nearly 1,116 institutions in all.
That process enabled the scientists to get a “minimum estimate” for the plant diversity held in botanic gardens. It also showed that global botanic gardens conserve almost two-thirds of plant “genera” — the classification above species — and over 90 percent of all plant families. As a result, the areas could be a great way for researchers to protect or house any threatened species.
However, the team also notes that this diversity differs greatly between temperate and tropical regions. Despite the fact that most plant species are tropical, only 25 percent of species in botanical gardens are topical. That is quite small compared to the 60 percent of temperate species housed in such areas.
The team plans to take a closer look at those numbers in order to get a better idea of global distribution. They hope such research will spur new conservation efforts and help them better protect certain plants in the future.
“This study is extremely important because it will enable us to target our efforts much more effectively, and work together to ensure that plant species don’t needlessly become extinct,” said study co-author Paul Smith, Secretary-General of BGCI, according to Gears of Biz.
The study was published in the journal Nature Plants.