Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The Catalogue of Life exceeds 1.5 million species

On 19th November 2013 the Catalogue of Life listed in excess of 1.5 million species names for the first time in its history.  This release of the Catalogue of Life, Dynamic edition, contains contributions from 142 databases with information on 1,516,879 species, 128,030 infraspecific taxa and also includes 1,162,766 synonyms and 403,928 common names.  Adding the names of synonyms and species means the index contains over 2.5million names recoverable by searching.  The Catalogue of Life has grown steadily since its launch although data cleaning and the change in Global Species Database contributors caused a short term dip in the number of accepted species in the 2013 Annual Checklist compared with the 2012 checklist.  The Annual Checklists are published in April each year.

As well as an increase in overall content, the community behind the Catalogue of Life continues to grow through the addition of new Global Species Databases.  Each database has one or more editors who are experts in taxonomy and are able to convert a mountain of taxonomic literature and experience into a simple checklist of species that they consider should be accepted in a particular group.

Catalogue of Life's daughter project, i4Life, has been helping build the infrastructure underneath the Catalogue and has directly funded the inclusion of new names via grants to GSD owners.  The i4Life project took the estimate of 1.9 million species globally as it's benchmark for a complete catalogue based on the review by Arthur Chapman - Numbers of Living Species in Australia and the World (2nd edition) so we consider current coverage to be almost 80% of our original target however new species continue to be discovered and estimates are now close to 2 million species meaning we have nearer 75% of the new target - this is still a phenomenal achievement.

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