How many species live in the oceans ? Logically, an exact figure cannot be given. But scientists have calculated that there may be almost a million species that inhabit the oceans of this planet. International research, in which scientists from several countries have participated, indicates that there are up to 972,000 different species of eukaryotic organisms. In the research, in which the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) has participated, data comes to light that are very revealing about the species that inhabit the oceans.
- The part that we know is minimal
- What method has been used
- The results of the study
The part that we know is minimal
In the prediction, in the calculation, 270 taxonomists (experts in classifying species) from 32 different countries have participated. The findings will be published in the journal Current Biology. The number of marine species described, that is, recognized and classified, is approximately 230,000. Which shows our ignorance of the seas , the number of species that we do not even know.
What method has been used
The method to perform the calculation has been as follows. Each taxonomist has dealt with his specialty and has calculated how many species could exist, either through statistical models or based on personal experience. The great merit of the work has been to bring together so many taxonomists, the main ones from all over the world, collaborating for the same cause. The statistical prediction is based on the rate of description of new species in the last decades.
The results of the study
The results indicate that the marine species would be about 540,000, although this figure can vary between 320,000 and 760,000. The estimate based on their experience gives different, but similar results: the number of species would be between 704,000 and 972,000 .
Therefore, scientists know about a third of the species that live in the oceans. The same species with different names, apart from the fact that we do not know most of the ocean species, the ones that experts do know, in many cases, are repeated, since they have been described with different names in different periods or places. That is, only 230,000 species are correctly described.. For example, in the order of cetaceans (which includes whales, dolphins and butterflies), there are 1,271 different names, but only 87 species. According to the researchers, this phenomenon is more common the better known the species, the larger its size and the greater its commercial interest. Of the 230,000 known marine species, most belong to the animal kingdom (about 200 and the rest to plants, microscopic organisms, fungi, lichens … The research has not taken into account bacteria, viruses and archaea.)
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