Historical patterns of avian taxonomy -- 1

This plot shows the number of currently valid species described each year since 1758.

The counts are plotted as the log (natural log "ln") of the number per year, otherwise the large number of taxa described in 1758 suppresses the structure in the rest of the data.

In the initial period, there is great variablility from year to year. The pattern of acitivity stabilizes in approximately 1815, peaks at about 1837, and then enters a steady, peristent, slightly accelerating decline. Dips in acitivity can be seen that occur at World War I, and World War II.

In the last fifty years the rate of new species descriptions has remained relatively constant and is perhaps increasing slightly of late. Only years with at least one description of a species currently considered valid are plotted. Surprisingly the last year there were none, was 1768.

Comments&Suggestions to Data Steward

Alan P. Peterson, M.D.
POB 1999
Walla Walla, WA 99362-0999

Last updated 2000.05.20