databases - reply
robinl at NAIT.AB.CA
Fri Mar 24 19:18:54 CST 1995
So someone out there thinks that we can have a handle on all of the
species out there by the year 2000 A.D. Such extreme naivite. As you
say, it must be a molecular biologist or biochemist with his/her head
inside a testtube.
We have been working on spiders with a binomial nomenclature system since
1757 (C. Clerck's SVENSKA SPINLAR). Todate we have described somewhere
near 35,000 (an estimate given many years ago by Pierre Bonnet and others
- but, as we sometimes describe new species, so sometimes we declare some
names junior synonyms).
The estimate of a few years ago by J. Coddingdon and H.W. Levi is that
there are about 170,000 species of spiders out there. This is about 20%
Latest estimates for the number of insect species run anywhere from about
10 million as a conservative minimum to about 80 million. Take your
pick, but know that there are ONLY just over a million described species
presently. So, we are either at 10% described (since 1758 with Linnaeus'
SYSTEMA NATURAE) or only just over 1%.
The large areas is South and Central America that are being deforested
contain many species that will disappear before we can ever describe
them. Some more pessimistic than I have even said, "What's the use of
describing these (referring to some from S. or C. America) as extant
species? I am describing a fossil species, as their habitat is now gone,
and so are they."
I doubt that we will have all the species described - even if we put
billions of $$ and employ many thousands of taxonomists - by the year
2000 A.D. is a farce date.
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