But we found that of the 1,080 species analyzed, there was only a 1% overlap of species in all four forest types in Manaus (Erwin, 1983a).
Data collected during three seasons for two forest plots in the same type of forest 50 meters apart in Tambopata indicate that only 8.7% species are shared. When we add the fourth season data (which will come in shortly), we predict that the percentage of shared species will drop.
Figure 13–3 is a cumulation species curve, which shows the increase in the number of species as we increase the samples. After this figure was made, some more samples were analyzed and the curve became much steeper. These data are just from Plot 1 in Upland Forest Type 1 (Erwin, 1985). The 3,000 species already analyzed amount to more than all the samples from Brazil.
A canopy beetle is shown in Figure 13–4. In fully describing the distribution of these insects in time and space in the tropics, we should think in terms of more than 30 million, or perhaps 50 million or more, species of insects on Earth. A large number of species are tied only to certain forest types that are found on very small patches of soil deposited differentially through time by the vast and meandering Amazon River system. The extermination of 50% or more of the fauna and flora would mean that our generation will participate in an extinction process involving perhaps 20 to 30 million species. We are not talking about a few endangered species listed in the Red Data books, or the few forbish louseworts and snail darters that garner so much media attention. No matter what the number we are talking about, whether 1 million or 20 million, it is massive destruction of the biological richness of Earth.