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GlobalWG 1.1 – Vertebrates


From Aardvark to Zebra

Chair: Eldredge Bermingham
Smithsonian Tropical Research Unit, Panama
Vice-chair: George Amato
American Museum of Natural History, New York City

The global species count for vertebrates is modest. It is 30,000 for fishes, 10,000 for birds and 5,000 each for mammals, amphibians and reptiles.

Because vertebrates are among the largest animals, their population sizes are small and they are at particular risk of extinction. For example, all but one of the 37 species of felids is endangered; the house cat is the only member of this family with a secure future. Apart from conservation concerns, many vertebrates are of major economic importance because they support commercial and recreational activities (e.g. fisheries).

Despite the high human interest, species identifications for many groups remain problematic. Connecting larval and adult forms is often difficult, especially for amphibians and fishes. By gathering barcode records for all 55,000 species of vertebrates, iBOL will eliminate such uncertainty.

30,000 species of fishes
10,000 birds
5,000 mammals
6,000 amphibians
9,000 reptiles


Changes announced at iBOL
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