How Many Species Are There on Earth?

Science  16 Sep 1988:
Vol. 241, Issue 4872, pp. 1441-1449
DOI: 10.1126/science.241.4872.1441


This article surveys current answers to the factual question posed in the title and reviews the kinds of information that are needed to make these answers more precise. Various factors affecting diversity are also reviewed. These include the structure of food webs, the relative abundance of species, the number of species and of individuals in different categories of body size, along with other determinants of the commonness and rarity of organisms.

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