How many species in the sea?
The Belgium meeting affirmed that the World Register should surpass 200,000 valid names by the end of 2008 and will offer the first complete listing of the estimated 230,000+ marine species known to science when the First Census of Marine Life (CoML) is released in October 2010.
"Decisions about the last few thousand species to be included could be difficult, as some descriptions are inadequate or the specimens missing," noted CoML Chief Scientist Ron O'Dor. "Experts may disagree on the scientific validity of an entry when evidence is contentious or scant."
The database has yet to reflect massive discovery efforts underway by CoML collaborators. Preliminary CoML estimates show many thousands of suspected new marine life species have been discovered in the first eight years of explorations, 110 of which have completed the formal description process.
The taxonomic analysis and description process means that "newly discovered" species often take years to appear in publications. The process involves exhaustive comparison, documentation, peer-review, publication, and depositing specimens in museum collections for others to access.
The Census is the largest-ever global marine biology research project, uniting researchers from more than 80 nations with the goal of assessing and explaining the diversity, distribution and abundance of ocean life past, present and future.
Started in 2000, some 17 projects (including 14 conducting field research) examining all aspects of sea life the world over are beginning to shift from data collection to analysis as the first Census moves towards a conclusion and synthesis report in 2010 an unpre
|Contact: Terry Collins|
Census of Marine Life