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The magnitude of global marine species diversity

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The question of how many marine species exist is important because it provides a metric for how much we do and do not know about life in the oceans. We have compiled the first register of the marine species of the world and used this baseline to estimate how many more species, partitioned among all major eukaryotic groups, may be discovered.

There are ?226,000 eukaryotic marine species described. More species were described in the past decade (?20,000) than in any previous one. The number of authors describing new species has been increasing at a faster rate than the number of new species described in the past six decades. We report that there are ?170,000 synonyms, that 58,000–72,000 species are collected but not yet described, and that 482,000–741,000 more species have yet to be sampled. Molecular methods may add tens of thousands of cryptic species. Thus, there may be 0.7–1.0 million marine species. Past rates of description of new species indicate there may be 0.5 ± 0.2 million marine species. On average 37% (median 31%) of species in over 100 recent field studies around the world might be new to science.

Currently, between one-third and two-thirds of marine species may be undescribed, and previous estimates of there being well over one million marine species appear highly unlikely. More species than ever before are being described annually by an increasing number of authors. If the current trend continues, most species will be discovered this century.

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Appeltans, Ward, Ahyong, Shane T., Anderson, Gary, Angel, Martin V., Artois, Tom, Bailly, Nicolas, Bamber, Roger, Barber, Anthony, Bartsch, Ilse, Berta, Annalisa, Błażewicz-Paszkowycz, Magdalena, Bock, Phil, Boxshall, Geoff, Boyko, Christopher B., Brandão, Simone Nunes, Bray, Rod A., Bruce, Niel L., Cairns, Stephen D., Chan, Tin-Yam, Cheng, Lanna, Collins, Allen G., Cribb, Thomas, Curini-Galletti, Marco, Dahdouh-Guebas, Farid, Davie, Peter J.F., Dawson, Michael N., De Clerck, Olivier, Decock, Wim, De Grave, Sammy, de Voogd, Nicole J., Domning, Daryl P., Emig, Christian C., Erséus, Christer, Eschmeyer, William, Fauchald, Kristian, Fautin, Daphne G., Feist, Stephen W., Fransen, Charles H.J.M., Furuya, Hidetaka, Garcia-Alvarez, Oscar, Gerken, Sarah, Gibson, David, Gittenberger, Arjan, Gofas, Serge, Gómez-Daglio, Liza, Gordon, Dennis P., Guiry, Michael D., Hernandez, Francisco, Hoeksema, Bert W., Hopcroft, Russell R., Jaume, Damià, Kirk, Paul, Koedam, Nico, Koenemann, Stefan, Kolb, Jürgen B., Kristensen, Reinhardt M., Kroh, Andreas, Lambert, Gretchen, Lazarus, David B., Lemaitre, Rafael, Longshaw, Matt, Lowry, Jim, Macpherson, Enrique, Madin, Laurence P., Mah, Christopher, Mapstone, Gill, McLaughlin, Patsy A., Mees, Jan, Meland, Kenneth, Messing, Charles G., Mills, Claudia E., Molodtsova, Tina N., Mooi, Rich, Neuhaus, Birger, Ng, Peter K.L., Nielsen, Claus, Norenburg, Jon, Opresko, Dennis M., Osawa, Masayuki, Paulay, Gustav, Perrin, William, Pilger, John F., Poore, Gary C.B., Pugh, Philip, Read, Geoffrey B., Reimer, James D., Rius, Marc, Rocha, Rosana M., Saiz-Salinas, José I., Scarabino, Victor, Schierwater, Bernd, Schmidt-Rhaesa, Andreas, Schnabel, Kareen E., Schotte, Marilyn, Schuchert, Peter, Schwabe, Enrico, Segers, Hendrik, Self-Sullivan, Caryn, Shenkar, Noa, Siegel, Volker, Sterrer, Wolfgang, Stöhr, Sabine, Swalla, Billie, Tasker, Mark L., Thuesen, Erik V., Timm, Tarmo, Todaro, M. Antonio, Turon, Xavier, Tyler, Seth, Uetz, Peter, van der Land, Jacob, Vanhoorne, Bart, van Ofwegen, Leen P., van Soest, Rob W.M., Vanaverbeke, Jan, Walker-Smith, Genefor, Walter, T. Chad, Warren, Alan, Williams, Gary C., Wilson, Simon P. and Costello, Mark J. (2012) The magnitude of global marine species diversity Current Biology, 22, (23), pp. 2189-2202. (doi:10.1016/j.cub.2012.09.036).

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Published date: 4 December 2012
Organisations: Ocean and Earth Science, Marine Biogeochemistry


Local EPrints ID: 348323
ISSN: 0960-9822
PURE UUID: 4acf63b8-10ce-480c-8c36-a3ac33622f44

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Date deposited: 12 Feb 2013 10:55
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 04:52

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Author: Ward Appeltans
Author: Shane T. Ahyong
Author: Gary Anderson
Author: Martin V. Angel
Author: Tom Artois
Author: Nicolas Bailly
Author: Roger Bamber
Author: Anthony Barber
Author: Ilse Bartsch
Author: Annalisa Berta
Author: Magdalena Błażewicz-Paszkowycz
Author: Phil Bock
Author: Geoff Boxshall
Author: Christopher B. Boyko
Author: Simone Nunes Brandão
Author: Rod A. Bray
Author: Niel L. Bruce
Author: Stephen D. Cairns
Author: Tin-Yam Chan
Author: Lanna Cheng
Author: Allen G. Collins
Author: Thomas Cribb
Author: Marco Curini-Galletti
Author: Farid Dahdouh-Guebas
Author: Peter J.F. Davie
Author: Michael N. Dawson
Author: Olivier De Clerck
Author: Wim Decock
Author: Sammy De Grave
Author: Nicole J. de Voogd
Author: Daryl P. Domning
Author: Christian C. Emig
Author: Christer Erséus
Author: William Eschmeyer
Author: Kristian Fauchald
Author: Daphne G. Fautin
Author: Stephen W. Feist
Author: Charles H.J.M. Fransen
Author: Hidetaka Furuya
Author: Oscar Garcia-Alvarez
Author: Sarah Gerken
Author: David Gibson
Author: Arjan Gittenberger
Author: Serge Gofas
Author: Liza Gómez-Daglio
Author: Dennis P. Gordon
Author: Michael D. Guiry
Author: Francisco Hernandez
Author: Bert W. Hoeksema
Author: Russell R. Hopcroft
Author: Damià Jaume
Author: Paul Kirk
Author: Nico Koedam
Author: Stefan Koenemann
Author: Jürgen B. Kolb
Author: Reinhardt M. Kristensen
Author: Andreas Kroh
Author: Gretchen Lambert
Author: David B. Lazarus
Author: Rafael Lemaitre
Author: Matt Longshaw
Author: Jim Lowry
Author: Enrique Macpherson
Author: Laurence P. Madin
Author: Christopher Mah
Author: Gill Mapstone
Author: Patsy A. McLaughlin
Author: Jan Mees
Author: Kenneth Meland
Author: Charles G. Messing
Author: Claudia E. Mills
Author: Tina N. Molodtsova
Author: Rich Mooi
Author: Birger Neuhaus
Author: Peter K.L. Ng
Author: Claus Nielsen
Author: Jon Norenburg
Author: Dennis M. Opresko
Author: Masayuki Osawa
Author: Gustav Paulay
Author: William Perrin
Author: John F. Pilger
Author: Gary C.B. Poore
Author: Philip Pugh
Author: Geoffrey B. Read
Author: James D. Reimer
Author: Marc Rius
Author: Rosana M. Rocha
Author: José I. Saiz-Salinas
Author: Victor Scarabino
Author: Bernd Schierwater
Author: Andreas Schmidt-Rhaesa
Author: Kareen E. Schnabel
Author: Marilyn Schotte
Author: Peter Schuchert
Author: Enrico Schwabe
Author: Hendrik Segers
Author: Caryn Self-Sullivan
Author: Noa Shenkar
Author: Volker Siegel
Author: Wolfgang Sterrer
Author: Sabine Stöhr
Author: Billie Swalla
Author: Mark L. Tasker
Author: Erik V. Thuesen
Author: Tarmo Timm
Author: M. Antonio Todaro
Author: Xavier Turon
Author: Seth Tyler
Author: Peter Uetz
Author: Jacob van der Land
Author: Bart Vanhoorne
Author: Leen P. van Ofwegen
Author: Rob W.M. van Soest
Author: Jan Vanaverbeke
Author: Genefor Walker-Smith
Author: T. Chad Walter
Author: Alan Warren
Author: Gary C. Williams
Author: Simon P. Wilson
Author: Mark J. Costello

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