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Scientists: Missing species in need of protection are likely already safe

Many of the world's missing species live in regions that have already been targeted as priorities for conservation by scientists, easing concerns over global conservation priorities, a new study found.

Conservation biologists have long been trying to identify places around the world where conservation efforts could save the most species from threats. These places, called biodiversity hotspots, are places with extreme rates of habitat loss and high numbers of endemic species.

But many of these species are undiscovered, making it difficult for scientists to know which areas to protect, according to lead author Lucas Joppa, of Microsoft Research in Cambridge, U.K. Joppa's study compared a model estimating how many species of flowering plants are yet undiscovered with regions that are currently identified as conservation priorities. The two sets matched, researchers found.

This means that six hotspots in South America, southern Africa, and Australia are estimated to contain 70 percent of all missing species. Only two regions that are likely to contain many missing species - south-mid Africa and the northern Palearctic - are not yet marked as hotspots.
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