In isolated parts of the world, such as the deep-sea, the tropics, and the Southern Ocean swirling around Antarctica, discovery of previously undescribed species can exceed 80% of specimens captured, especially for smaller animals like crustaceans, worms and molluscs. Census plankton project leader Ann Bucklin predicts her collaborators will at least double the number of known zooplankton species in the world, which in 2008 consisted of 7,000 species in 15 different phyla.
"Discovering a species never known to science before is one of the great prizes of marine research," says Ian Poiner, Australia-based chair of CoML's Scientific Steering Committee. "The accomplishment earns the researcher the hard-earned right to bestow the species with a name.
"For years to come, as new species discoveries are validated and enter the literature, some individual researchers could earn that right hundreds of times over and we look forward to seeing thousands of new species identified through the Census eventually fed to the World Register."
"What may appear a simple task on the surface is in fact two-fold: the names of every known species have first to be validated, and the register must also simultaneously try to keep pace with new discoveries," says WoRMS data manager Ward Appeltans of the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ), noting that one expert representing each taxonomic group is assigned to control the quality of the databank's content.
"The fact that every year scientists still find more than 100 new marine fish species in the sea is astonishing," he adds. "While we are looking up to search for life on Mars, there is still so much beauty to discover at our feet."
|Contact: Terry Collins|
Census of Marine Life