Syracuse University's College of Arts and Sciences experts recently studied whether we can agree to a specific number of vertebrate species that inhabited Earth or not. The main interest of this species-counting challenge serves as an effort to the preservation of the animals. The total number of species will help the experts to correct the number of headcount for sorting and priority purposes, with regards to vertebrate species conservation.

Counting the Number of Species is Impossible

Bassano Animals entering Noah's Ark.jpg
(Photo : Leandro Bassano / WikiCommons)

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences professors and authors of the study Linda Ivany and Bruce Wilkinson conducted a study that states counting the true, total number of species could not be concluded.

The question 'how many species?' have many revolving factors that should be recognized, and can not be answered abruptly. For example, only a fraction of currently identified species have been named, and there are still many species on our planet that are yet to be discovered. To prove, the researchers attempted to predict the end of species counting, the point where all species have been found, through the data gathered from each year's species identification.

Wilkinson has observed the comparison between the discovery rate of new species with the overall reservoir size of nonrenewable materials found on our planet, including mineral ores and oil. The calculation of the total global reservoir and the estimated time of harvesting all of the resources were previously attempted by experts in hopes to extend the curve of the resource reservoir.

This counting method, also known as the theory of exploitation, resulted in a bell-shaped curve. The curve increased as the production rate from discoveries increase. However, the curve also dropped along with the decline of the production rate, even though full efforts were conducted to find more resources.

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Total Number of Species: Hubbert's Peak and the Earth's Richness

Hubbert's peak is the point where the time of maximum discovery is extremely high, right before the curve will decline and depleted until there will be no resource left.

According to the study published in Biological Journal entitled "Estimating vertebrate biodiversity using the tempo of taxonomy — a view from Hubbert's peak," experts said that quantifying the total species on Earth is similar to the nonrenewable resources bump. Compared to the escalation of the oil curvature as an effect of the horizontal drilling in the 2000s, the new species discovery curvature from the 1950s is somehow similar. This surge in species exploration was put in the limelight right after the second World War. More funding was allotted to the scientific community for a better understanding of biological and molecular science, as well as identifying and sorting species that were never known before.

The curvature of the counting of species has significantly changed throughout time. The factors included in the transition of the curves were the methods of discovery, as well as the efforts made by the scientific community. The counting of all species that inhabited Earth is a demonstration of the scientific method, which states that there will be no conclusion unless the quantified facts are straight and proven. With that said, the possibility of concluding the species count is far from completion. Ivany said that our efforts on finding the number of species will not match the richness of our planet, ScienceDaily reports.

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