Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2012
Uses of Biodiversity and New and Future Domestications
In previous sections, we have learned of new techniques to investigate prehistoric domestications of crops and livestock, new hypotheses of domestication and spread of crops and livestock in human cultures, and the genetic basis for domestication. However, domestication is not only a process of the past. In spite of the fact that currently a very limited number of plant and animal domesticates contribute to the world's sustenance, new domestications are taking place and given what humans now know about the process, there are opportunities for new domestications that should be pursued.
The number of plant species that humans have made use of is huge. One estimate is that 75,000 angiosperm species are edible; 7,000 of these have been used by humans as food sources (Myers 1983). A more recent review puts it as 4,079 food species (Proche?? et al. 2008), still a strong contrast to the few cultivated species that predominate today.