For food, water, and shelter, millions of people rely on the diverse palm plant family.

According to a study, over a thousand different species of palm trees face extinction. Scientists used artificial intelligence to assess the risks posed by every member of the palm family, from large trees to climbing plants. The data paints a much clearer picture of the number and types of vulnerable palm species. The study’s principal investigator, Dr. Sidonie Bellot of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, believes that more than a thousand palm species that are now known to be possibly endangered require protection. She asserted that the activity was required to gather more data on the plants as well as to protect those that were already present on the ground.

Scientists are concerned about the potential extinction of fewer, well-known wild relatives of popular ornamental or commercially developed palms. Others believe that wild plants may vanish even before they reach their full potential. The Kew-led team decided to investigate machine learning as a method because official assessments of extinction danger are time-consuming and expensive. They can identify species that require further conservation efforts in the countries where they are most threatened by using this strategy, which also helps define priorities for conservation activities.