Abstract

A growing literature shows that there are more people describing species new to science than ever before, that this is not due to multiple authorships of papers, and that the proportions of people (i.e. taxonomists) who describe many or only one species in their life-time has not changed. These data also show that there is a decreasing number of new species described in proportion to the number of taxonomists. Although descriptions are generally now more comprehensive and may take more time, this may be offset by modern efficiencies in field, laboratory and publication methods. We explain how the analyses of Bebber et al. (2014) support these findings; contrary to the tone of their paper. They conclude that c. 75% of flowering plant species have been described, and because of synonyms that the total number of 350 000 plant species may not change. This further supports our interpretation of the decreasing species catch per unit effort as an indication that most (c. 2/3) of species have been named and thus there are 2–3 million species on Earth.