databases - reply

Robin Leech 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
3000 A.D.

2000 A.D. is a farce date.

Robin Leech

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