“How many species exist?” Seminar, Mark Costello. Dec 7,Fri. 3:10 2342 Storer”

Just got this in email:

Mark Costello will be giving a seminar on Friday, December 7th, at 3:10pm in Storer Hall room 2342. His talk will focus on several of his recent papers on “Can we discover Earth’s species before they go extinct?” If you have any questions, please contact Eliot Crafton (recrafton).

Mark is an Associate Professor as the University of Auckland Leigh Marine Laboratory. His work focuses on biodiversity, ecology, biogeography, and ectoparasites with an interest in conservation. He has done extensive work looking at biogeography of marine species, including invasive species, and examining the biodiversity of the world’s oceans. This work has relied on both taxonomic records and statistical modeling of these systems. In addition, Mark has been an active participant in developing and proliferating access to biodiversity data, including positions as the founding chair of the World Register of Marine Species (www.marinespecies.org), President of the International Association for Biological Oceanography (www.iabo.org), and Vice-Chair of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility Science Committee (www.gbif.org), among several other positions. More information regarding Mark’s activities can be found on his university webpage, http://www.marine.auckland.ac.nz/uoa/home/about/our-people/dr-mark-costello/

Seminar Topic: ‘Can we discover Earth’s species before they go extinct?’

Mark will be presenting findings from several of his 2012 papers. Poor estimates of how many species exist on Earth and extinction rates, coupled with a perception of declining taxonomic expertise, have led to concerns that many or most species may be extinct before they are discovered. In contrast to widespread beliefs, we find that hyper-estimates of species richness cannot be supported, that there have never been so many taxonomists, and that extinction rates are not yet out of control. Thus most species are likely to be described within this century, especially if taxonomic productivity increases.

Predicting Total Global Species Richness Using Rates of Species Description and Estimates of Taxonomic Effort

Mark J Costello, Simon Wilson, and Brett Houlding


The Magnitude of Global Marine Species Diversity

Appeltans et al.


Author: Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. (see my lab site here). My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis

3 thoughts on ““How many species exist?” Seminar, Mark Costello. Dec 7,Fri. 3:10 2342 Storer””

  1. I believe that Costello’s work here is fatally flawed, in part by an over-reliance on Catalogue of Life for data on terrestrial species, and in part by a total neglect of the geographical and other biases of taxonomic effort. There may well be more taxonomists than ever, but describing a new species takes longer than it used to, and the taxonomists are concentrated in certain parts of the world, and focus on particular groups of organisms from particular places. The claim that “thus most species are likely to be described within this century” is, quite frankly, complete and utter drivel! We won’t even have described all species that occur in the grounds of this campus by then!


  2. You don’t even have to take microbes into account … small terrestrial arthropods are more than enough. Oddy, in some places in his recent paper, Costello ambiguously suggests that he isn’t considering “smaller arthropods”!


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