databases & naivete

Bentivenga, Stephen P INVAM at WVNVM.WVNET.EDU
Sat Mar 25 08:49:04 CST 1995

The ridiculousness of the notion of describing all species by the year
2000 becomes apparent if one considers fungi.  There are approx. 70,000
described species and an estimated 1.5 million total (Hawksworth, 1991.
Mycol. Res. 95: 641-655).  This leaves about 1,430,000 species yet to
be described.  If we assume that there are 10,000 mycologists world-wide
(a gross overestimation), and that half of them are taxonomists
(another gross overestimation), then each of these 5000 people would
have to describe 57 species per year for the next 5 years!  A prolific
mycologist would be lucky to describe this many species in their career,
let alone in one year!

Steve Bentivenga
West Virginia University

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