[Taxacom] Guess numbers of new taxa described per year?

Tony Rees tonyrees49 at gmail.com
Wed Apr 3 14:44:07 CDT 2019

Dear all,

I appreciate the responses and in particular the detailed breakdowns per
group which are probably of interest to many - so any more would also be

The total of around 18,000 new species per year quoted by Costello et al.
in 2013 comes from the IISE "State of Observed Species" reports available
here: https://www.esf.edu/species/SOS.htm and I have nothing better than
that (they give a total 176,311 new species described between 2000 and
2009). I did once have an idea that the annual number was a bit higher
(20,000? 22,000?) but cannot now remember where I got that from and perhaps
it was incorrect anyway. IISE appears to have ceased its collation
activities for now which is a bit of a shame - I always enjoy the
"macroscopic" view of the the world in addition to the microscopic...

>From my own data (which may be a little less than 100% complete but not too
much so) I have totals for new genera (all groups, extant+fossil, except
viruses) of 25,841 for 2000-2009 (around 2,580/year average) followed by
2,484 for 2010, 2,201 for 2011 and 2,319 for 2012. I also have data for
more recent years but these are less complete at the present time. So this
is around 50 new genus names published per week (7 per day!) for someone to
track and hopefully make available in some integrated form for the benefit
of users (Catalogue of Life etc.), in addition to the 340-odd new species
names per week (50 or so per day)...

For families (which may be a little more incomplete in my holdings), my
data give 924 new names for 2000-2009 (92/year average) followed by 127 in
2010, 99 in 2011 and 117 in 2012. Actually this is the number that most
surprised me - around 100 new families every year (2 per week)... showing
that higher taxonomy is still pretty dynamic with no sign of slowing  - at
least part of which must be due to molecular methods showing up new
divergences where not previously suspected, at least in the protists and
prokaryotes where morphological criteria may be more uniform.

For reference, my data are available via
http://www.irmng.org/download.php (last
update: March 2019), should you have an interest in exploring other aspects.

Tony Rees, New South Wales, Australia

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