Study places species census at 8.7 million

October 27th, 2011  |  by  |  Published in Research News

Camilo Mora headshot

Camilo Mora

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my…there appears to be some 8.7 million species on Earth, according to a new calculation by UH Mānoa geographer Camilo Mora and colleagues at Canada’s Dalhousie University.

The figure is based on an innovative, validated analytical technique applied to the 1.2 million species classified in the Catalogue of Life and the World Register of Marine Species.

Identification of reliable numerical patterns between known species and the more complete higher taxonomic levels suggests there are 6.5 million species on land and 2.2 million in the ocean.

In spite of 250 years of taxonomic classification, the results suggest that 86 percent of existing species on Earth and 91 percent of species in the ocean still await description, the authors write in the Aug. 23 journal PLoS Biology.

While their calculation is the most precise ever offered, it is still an estimate, give or take 1.3 million.

Download the paper or listen to comments at Mora’s website (in English and Spanish).

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