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Species research: Botanists find previously unknown carnivorous plants


Botanists have discovered six new plant species in Australia - rather by accident. Four of them had previously photographed nature lovers and posted them on the internet.

Enlarge image

All species of the Drosera microphylla complex.

Previously three species were known, now there are nine.

Photo: Thilo Krueger / Curtin University / dpa

Botanists have discovered six new carnivorous plants in western Australia.

The scientists did not identify four of them through field research, but via the Internet.

Nature photographers had posted pictures of the plants on Facebook.

The German-Australian research team has now examined the six new species and published its results in the journal Biology.

The plants all belong to the genus


, commonly known as sundew.

The complex, of which six new species have now been discovered, is named

Drosera microphylla


So far, only three species have been known, the first discovery dates back to 1837. One of the species that has now been identified was described by a collector almost 150 years ago: the plant is said to be "the most beautiful of the


genus " because of its blooms.

But it was only thanks to Facebook that the scientists found photos of her for the first time.

More discoveries by laypeople than researchers

In the meantime, the data from lay scientists exceeds that from research collections, according to a statement from the Munich State Botanical Collection on the study.

This is particularly the case with carnivorous plants.

They are visually conspicuous, which may be why they make it onto social media or biodiversity databases particularly quickly.

Such data, often published accidentally, sometimes intentionally, by hobby photographers and citizen scientists have become a valuable source for biodiversity research.

And thus of great importance for the protection of many animal and plant species, emphasized Andreas Fleischmann from the Munich State Botanical Collection and the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.

"In particular, it would not have been possible for us to determine the distribution areas of very rare species without this additional data filling."

A sundew species from South Africa, for example, became known in 2018 through three historical finds - and seven photos on a citizen science website.

Today there are already 307 observations from 131 hobby researchers interested in nature on the internet platform.

Although many species are becoming extinct worldwide in the 21st century, new animal and plant species are still being discovered.

"A race against time," emphasized the scientists.

Without the intensive work of species researchers, "many creatures would die out without being known beforehand."

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2023-01-18

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