[Taxacom] globalnames?

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Wed Sep 16 15:25:52 CDT 2009

It seems Dave and I made many of the same basic points:

> You said there are likely 2-3 million names, at most.  In 
> what sense of the word "name" since I get different answers 
> from botanists than zoologists as to what they mean and it 
> affects the cardinality of the estimate.  I posted a question 
> some time back where I asked how many name-bearing types 
> might exist.  I fear (as I often do in this area) that I 
> didn't have the term quite right but really was asking how 
> many original species descriptions (which I assume is tied to 
> a type) exist.  Clearly there are more of these than there 
> are species.  From these how many have been moved to new 
> genera, replaced, etc. to create more distinct names?  I 
> would have thought the number to be higher than 2-3 million.

I think this 2-3 million figure is "names sensu zoologists", where different
combinations are not counted as "different" names, but rather "different
combinations of two distinct names -- one genus-group name , and one
species-group name".

It's based on an estimated "over-description" rate of about 2:1
species-group names:species.  It also (I think) is only counting
species-group names.  From the rates I've seen, the ratio of species-group
names to genus-group names is something on the order of 5:1, so if you
include genus-group names, you'd bump it up another 20%.  Not sure on the
ratios for highr-level names (families, orders, etc.), but I suspect it
drops off abruptly, and whether or not you include names at those ransk is
lost in the noise of the estimate.


More information about the Taxacom mailing list