The Belly Button Biodiversity Project, which explores the bacterial ecosystems living in its participants' navels, has discovered that a small number of bacterial phylotypes (or "species") dominate the micro-landscape.

The biologists' results show a "jungle of microbial diversity" with over 2,300 species of bacteria present and only eight of those recurring frequently -- a similar diversity distribution to that of tree species in tropical rainforests.

The Belly Button Biodiversity Project began life as a method of engaging the public in personalised scientific study, culturing belly button bacteria to provide an individualised microbiotic portrait. Marked differences between the cultures encouraged the researchers to extend the project and seek further belly buttons and bacterial data.

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