Exploding Species: a disappointment

Readers of a certain temperament, who seek high levels of stimulation, may feel a bit deflated —led on, then let down by the title — upon learning that the monograph called “Exploding Species” is about counting the number of species. The study is:

Exploding Species,” Trevor Price [pictured here], Trends in Ecology & Evolution, Volume 11, Issue 8, August 1996, Pages 314-315. The author, then at the University of California at San Diego, explains:

“The reclassification of subspecies and populations as sibling species may turn out to be much more widespread. In North America, Groth has used songs and call notes to split a single species of crossbill into eight’s, although these classifications are more controversial. There may well be large numbers of morphologically similar sibling species in that most speciose group of all, the Arthropods, in which case our estimates of species numbers could be wildly inaccurate. It is a truism that the temperate regions are much better known than the tropics, and that birds are much better known than other groups. If the genus Phylloscopus is a yardstick, it is clear that there is a long way to go to determine the number of species in the world, and it is likely that revised estimates will continue upwards, at least until the extinction spasm becomes well established.”