Why all the flowering plants and insects? Part I: The Numbers

When I started this blog last July I had the intention of photographing and writing about any macroscopic organisms I might come across.  While I’ve stuck to this plan, I’m aware that I have a distinct bias towards flowering plants and insects.  Part of this is personal interest, since I’m fascinated by both groups as well as their interactions.   The main reason for this bias, however, comes from nature itself.  Data compiled by the IUCN (2010) show that about 74% of all known macroscopic species are either flowering plants or insects.

Flowering plants represent over 16% of all known macroscopic species on earth.  While this doesn’t sound like a very big number, they are the second largest group.

The largest group are the insects, which compose nearly 58% of all known macroscopic species.  This figure is bound to grow even larger over time.  Although there are roughly one million known species, there are probably many hundreds of thousands yet to be described.

For context it’s interesting to compare these figures to those of vertebrate groups most people know and love.  Mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians each make up less than 1% of all known macroscopic species.  Even fish, the largest group of vertebrates, make up less than 2%.  All vertebrates together represent less than 4%.

Since nature is biased towards flowering plants and insects, it should be unsurprising that the content here favors these organisms.  While I photograph and write about other organisms when I stumble across them, they are in the minority.  It’s easy to find and photograph flowering plants and insects since we’re literally surrounded by thousands of them.

Literature cited:

International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Summary Statistics for Globally Threatened Species. Table 1: Numbers of threatened species by major groups of organisms (1996–2010).

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, Entomology, General and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Why all the flowering plants and insects? Part I: The Numbers

  1. Pingback: Why all the flowering plants and insects? Part II: Economic Importance | The Life of Your Time

  2. Pingback: Midland Painted Turtle | The Life of Your Time

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