[Taxacom] Total number of name-bearing types

Steve Manning sdmanning at asub.edu
Thu Jan 15 16:37:22 CST 2009

Of course what is meant by "accepted" or "generally recognized" 
species would have to be defined.  The "lumper-splitter" issue comes 
into play here.  To state a probably over-used cliche, the accepted 
number in a particular group depends on who has the latest 
publication in that group.  Even if two or more species are combined 
in a valid publication, not all workers in the group may agree with 
the combination.  Maybe not all Dipterologists would agree that 
154,000 is the actual number of flies - some may think 185,000 is 
closer to the actual number (?).


This At 08:03 PM 1/14/2009, Kenneth Kinman wrote:
>Dear All,
>       This is a very interesting question, and I was happy to see that
>Chris Thompson could provide some minimal numbers for Diptera:  "at
>least" 185,000 type specimens for about 154,000 species of flies.
>However, I was disappointed that there was no further discussion for
>other taxa.   Of course this is somewhat understandable given the
>uncertainty as to the total numbers of accepted species of living
>organisms that have been described and generally accepted.
>       Anyway, Chris came up with approximately a ratio of 1.4 of type
>specimens/accepted described species.  I suspect beetles are a little
>lower than 1.4, and that ants are probably higher than 1.4 (since
>syntypes series of ants can often include not only males and females,
>but workers as well).  Although many mammalogists are not well tuned
>into the huge number of subspecies and synonyms (which each have their
>own types), my own studies indicate that the ratio of type specimens to
>recognized species is probably relatively high (easily 5.0, if not
>more), and I suspect the same is true of birds.  I just wonder if fish
>(higher in numbers of species), also have anything like this ratio.
>       In any case, I would estimate the number of described "accepted"
>species of living organisms to be at least 1,700,000.  If we assume a
>minimum ratio of 1.5 for organisms as whole, we are talking about a
>minimum of
>2,350,000 type specimens.  I suspect that it is closer to 3,000,000 if
>not more.  I just wish I knew more about the prevalence of angiosperm
>syntype series (and their numbers) to estimate the ratio for that rather
>speciose group.  Is it much greater than 1.4 that was estmated for the
>minimum of Dipteran type specimens?  An estimated ratio for molluscs
>(another speciose group) would also be helpful.
>          --------Cheers,
>                           Ken Kinman
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