The Species Knowledge Index maps what we know for 32,411 known species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians - in this case, with an eightfold gain after adding data from the Zoological Information Management System curated by 1200 zoos and aquariums worldwide. Credit: Species360 Conservation Science Alliance
Despite volumes of data currently available on mankind, it is surprising how little we know about other species. A paper published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) confirms that critical information, such as fertility and survival rates, is missing from global data for more than 98 percent of known species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.
It's a gap with far-reaching implications for conservationists seeking to blunt the impact of the Earth's sixth mass extinction event. Scientists working worldwide on behalf of IUCN Red List, IUCN Species Survival Commission, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES), TRAFFIC, Monitor, and others, require demographic data to assess species populations and intervene where needed.
"It seems inconceivable. Yet scientists tasked with saving species often have to power through with best-guess assumptions that we hope approximate reality," said lead researcher and Species360 Conservation Science Alliance director Dalia A. Conde.