Sat, Jul 18, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Agriculture officials laud diversity of biological species

'BUTTERFLY KINGDOM' An official said Taiwan was home to 44 butterfly fish species and 423 butterfly species, while 60 percent of insects are endemic species

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Taiwan has a rich diversity of biological species, boasting more than 50,000 endemic species, or 2.5 percent of the world’s total, the Council of Agriculture said in a statement.

The Biodiversity Research Center at Academia Sinica — the nation’s foremost academic institution — recently completed a list of all of the nation’s species. Commissioned by the Council of Agriculture and the National Science Council, the list documents 50,164 indigenous species in eight domains, 55 divisions, 126 classes, 610 orders and 2,900 families, the statement said.

The list, published in book form, also documents 1,056 alien and naturalized species in eight domains, 14 divisions, 82 classes, 82 orders, 171 families and 644 genuses.

Officials from the Forestry Bureau said more than 160 local biologists have spent seven years compiling the book, the first official publication of a full list of species in the nation.

AMAZING

“Taiwan’s biodiversity is amazing” a Forestry Bureau official said. “The country’s land area accounts for only 0.025 percent of the world’s total, but the number of its indigenous species makes up 2.5 percent of the number of known species around the globe.”

With a land area of 36,000km², Taiwan boasts 1.4 species per square kilometer. This is a much greater number than in New Zealand — also well known for its biodiversity — where there are 0.2 species per square kilometer, the official said.

The number of marine species in the waters surrounding Taiwan is 400 times the world’s average, representing 10 percent of the world’s species, the official said.

Peter Raven, one of the world’s foremost biodiversity academics and head of the Missouri Botanical Gardens in the US, estimated in April that Taiwan has at least 200,000 to 250,000 biological species.

NOT YET DISCOVERED

“Should that be the case, three-fifths to four-fifths of Taiwan’s species have yet to be discovered and documented,” the official said, adding that the nation’s rich biodiversity would encourage the international biological community to take notice of Taiwan.

Taiwan ranks high in world ratings in terms of insect, plant, vertebrate and fungus species, as well as butterflies, he said.

The official said Taiwan could be called the “Butterfly Fish Kingdom” or “Butterfly Kingdom” because it is home to 44 butterfly fish species and 423 butterfly species.

The official said that 71 percent of the mammals found in Taiwan are endemic species, with 17 percent of bird species endemic, 22 percent of reptiles that are found nowhere else, 31 percent of amphibians live only in Taiwan and 19 percent of the freshwater fish and 25 percent of the plant species are endemic to the country. In the insect category, endemic species account for 60 percent of the total, he said.

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