The All Species Inventory
September 23, 2002 6:02 AM   Subscribe

The All Species Inventory is a non-profit organization dedicated to the complete inventory of all species of life on Earth within the next 25 years - a human generation. It's an interesting project, based on open-source ideology (check out their "Principles") but seems to be limiting itself to strictly Linnaean methods.
posted by Irontom (10 comments total)
Brainchild of Kevin Kelly - one of the founding editors of Wired, amongst a host of other neat things he has done / is doing.
posted by Irontom at 6:04 AM on September 23, 2002

Isn't there still quite a large percentage of insect species (one figure I read said > 25%) which have yet to be discovered. I think the 25 year deadline might be a bit short.
posted by PenDevil at 6:26 AM on September 23, 2002

Betcha they get hung up on the beetles.

Besides, note the use of the dread phrase paradigm shift. This project is doomed from the start.
posted by yhbc at 6:34 AM on September 23, 2002

Off topic: My World Issues teacher had a love for the phrase "fundamental paradigm shift".

It became a pretty big joke in the class, and he finally caved and got in on the joke. I love being a trend-setter. Especially ones where no one gets hurt. :)
posted by Dark Messiah at 7:04 AM on September 23, 2002

Why start this project now? As they delay the start their job gets easier. It's similar to the theoretical effect of ever increasing computer speed on lengthy calculations. For many calculations you'll get your results faster if you actually delay its start.
posted by substrate at 7:08 AM on September 23, 2002

An interesting (and very nicely presented) site, Irontom.

Pendevil, the site faq says this: Since the first modern scientific surveys of life on Earth begun by Linnaeus and his contemporaries in the mid-eighteenth century, ~1.7 million species have been identified and described. Estimates of undiscovered species on Earth range from 10 million to 100 million, which (though I am woefully ignorant in this area) does make it seem a rather impossible task to accomplish in only 25 years, doesn't it?
posted by taz at 7:09 AM on September 23, 2002

Oh goody, we get to find out how many creatures Noah loaded onto that boat.
posted by 2sheets at 11:45 AM on September 23, 2002

As an ecologist I feel this is a noble cause, but I doubt they can hope to get it all done in 25 years. Firstly, species are evolving, and, especially if you start getting down into Monera and Arthropoda, it will be hard to keep up. And then there's the problem that the silly taxonomists keep redefining sub-species, species and genera the whole time. It's not going to be a project that's ever actually "finished".
posted by Jimbob at 5:04 PM on September 23, 2002

Wow - I didn't realize that there were any species evolving in an observable fashion. I'd love to hear more if you've got the time - you could even send me a note offline if you like.
posted by Irontom at 4:57 AM on September 24, 2002

Irontom, check out the Observed Instances of Speciation FAQ from talk.orgins. It also discusses another relevant point: where do you draw the line between species?
posted by PeteBevin at 8:51 AM on September 24, 2002

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