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MEPS
Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 635:71-79 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13201

Progress in the discovery of extant and fossil bryozoans

Marta Pagès-Escolà1,*, Philip E. Bock2, Dennis P. Gordon3, Simon Wilson4, Cristina Linares1, Bernat Hereu1, Mark J. Costello5

1Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Institut de Recerca de la Biodiversitat (IRBIO), University of Barcelona (UB), 08028 Barcelona, Spain
2Museum Victoria, Melbourne VIC 3001, Australia
3National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA), Private Bag 14901, Kilbirnie, Wellington 6241, New Zealand
4School of Computer Science and Statistics, Lloyd Institute, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland
5Institute of Marine Sciences, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The number of species that exist on Earth has been an intriguing question in ecology and evolution. For marine species, previous works have analysed trends in the discovery of extant species, without comparison to the fossil record. Here, we compared the rate of description between extant and fossil species of the same group of marine invertebrates, Bryozoa. There are nearly 3 times as many described fossil species as there are extant species. This indicates that current biodiversity represents only a small proportion of Earth’s past biodiversity, at least for Bryozoa. Despite these differences, our results showed similar trends in the description of new species between extant and fossil groups. There has been an increase in taxonomic effort during the past century, characterized by an increase in the number of taxonomists, but no change in their relative productivity (i.e. similar proportions of authors described most species). The 20th century had the most species described per author, reflecting increased effort in exploration and technological developments. Despite this progress, future projections in the discovery of bryozoan species predict that around 10 and 20% more fossil and extant species than named species, respectively, will be discovered by 2100, representing 2430 and 1350 more fossil and extant species, respectively. This highlights the continued need for both new species descriptions and taxonomic revisions, as well as ecological and biogeographical research, to better understand the biodiversity of Bryozoa.


KEY WORDS: Diversity · Descriptions · Authors · Marine · Fossil · Bryozoans · Species accumulation curves


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Cite this article as: Pagès-Escolà M, Bock PE, Gordon DP, Wilson S, Linares C, Hereu B, Costello MJ (2020) Progress in the discovery of extant and fossil bryozoans. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 635:71-79. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13201

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