Norway mounts effort to identify all the country's native species

Dec. 19, 2013 at 5:02 PM
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OSLO, Norway, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- An exceptional effort to describe all native species in Norway has identified more than 1,100 previously unknown species, scientists say.

The Norwegian Taxonomy Initiative is one of two government efforts under way worldwide funding an effort to catalog a country's true species diversity, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology reported Thursday.

Scientists have focused on describing poorly known species groups across Norway's varied habitats, from its alpine plateaus to the northernmost reaches of the island archipelago of Spitsbergen.

From new species of insects and lichens to new species of molluscs and cold-water sponges, scientists have racked up a discovery count of 1,165 species.

Scientists say only around 41,000 of the 55,000 native species they believe live in Norway have been discovered, making the new species an important addition.

"These are very good results that provide new knowledge of both individual species and ecosystems," Ivar Myklebust, director of the Norwegian Biodiversity Information Center, said.

Norway's landscape varies greatly in its topography, climate and habitats for species.

"Norway's land, seas and coastal areas have a unique variety of landscapes and ecosystems with great variation over short distances, which is rare in a global context," Tine Sundtoft, Norway's Minister of Climate and the Environment, said. "This gives us a rich and varied flora and fauna. The government will take our management responsibilities seriously."

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