How many species are there in the world?

How many species are there in the world?

This is a very good question, but the truth is, its very hard to know, or even estimate. Currently there are about 1.4 million species described. Yet, we’re probably far from being close to the actual number of species.

Take this into consideration. In a famous study conducted in Panama, 19 trees were “fogged” with insecticide and the dead were collected as they fell through the canopy. In this study, nearly 1,200 species of beetles alone were collected. Of those, 80 percent were not known to science. While it may be dangerous to extrapolate numbers like these to other places, it gives at least a high estimate of the number of species that could exist on earth – that high estimate being around 100 million species. A low estimate is 2 million. Read more here.

An Australian scientist now believes that only 5.5 million species may share our planet. He concludes with 90 per cent certainty that there are between 2.5 and 3.7 million arthropod species.

If you add to the arthropods the known vertebrates (approximately 50,000 species), plants (400,000) and other organisms such as fungi and algae (1.3 million), “the magic number is 5.5 million”. Read more here.

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One Response to “How many species are there in the world?”

  1. Pollinator Says:

    Love it! Very well illustrated.

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