PerspectiveEcology

Tropical Arthropod Species, More or Less?

Science  02 Jul 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5987, pp. 41-42
DOI: 10.1126/science.1191058

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Summary

If some alien version of the Starship Enterprise visited Earth, what might be the visitors' first question? I think it would be: “How many distinct life forms—species—does your planet have?” Embarrassingly, our best-guess answer would be in the range of 5 to 10 million eukaryotes (never mind the viruses and bacteria), but we could defend numbers exceeding 100 million, or as low as 3 million.

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