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Lists of organisms by population

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A swarm of common starlings. Numbering over 310 million, this species contains at least as many individuals as the United States does humans.[1][2]

This is a collection of lists of organisms by their population. While most of the numbers are estimates, they have been made by the experts in their fields. Species population is a science falling under the purview of population ecology and biogeography. Individuals are counted by census, as carried out for the piping plover;[3][4] using the transect method, as done for the mountain plover;[5] and beginning in 2012 by satellite, with the emperor penguin being first subject counted in this manner.[6]

Number of species[edit]

More than 99 percent of all species, amounting to over five billion species,[7] that ever lived on Earth are estimated to be extinct.[8][9] Estimates on the number of Earth's current species range from 10 million to 14 million,[10] of which about 1.2 million have been documented and over 86 percent have not yet been described.[11] According to another study, the number of described species has been estimated at 1,899,587.[12] 2000–2009 saw approximately 17,000 species described per year.[12] The total number of undescribed organisms is unknown, but marine microbial species alone could number 20,000,000.[12] For this reason, the number of quantified species will always lag behind the number of described species, and species contained in these lists tend to be on the K side of the r/K selection continuum. More recently, in May 2016, scientists reported that 1 trillion species are estimated to be on Earth currently with only one-thousandth of one percent described.[13] The total number of related DNA base pairs on Earth is estimated at 5.0 x 1037 and weighs 50 billion tonnes.[14] In comparison, the total mass of the biosphere has been estimated to be as much as 4 TtC (trillion [million million] tonnes of carbon).[15] In July 2016, scientists reported identifying a set of 355 genes from the Last universal common ancestor (LUCA) of all organisms living on Earth.[16]

By domain[edit]

The domain of eukaryotes represent a small minority of the number of organisms;[17] however, due to their generally much larger size, their collective global biomass is estimated to be about equal to that of prokaryotes.[17] Prokaryotes number about 4–6 × 1030 cells and 350–550 Pg of C.[18]


It is estimated that the most numerous bacteria are of a species of the Pelagibacterales (or SAR11) clade, perhaps Pelagibacter ubique, and the most numerous viruses are bacteriophages infecting these species.[19] It is estimated that the oceans contain about 2.4 × 1028 (24 octillion) SAR11 cells.[20] The Deep Carbon Observatory has been exploring living forms in the interior of the Earth. "Life in deep Earth totals 15 to 23 billion tons of carbon".[21]


     Relative terrestrial biomasses
of vertebrates versus arthropods


Mammals (Mammalia)[edit]

The development of the world's landbased fauna over the millennia measured in biomass.

Birds (Aves)[edit]

Reptiles (Reptilia)[edit]

Animal Population Notes
Chinese alligator 100–200[24] Only in the wild. Chinese alligators are quite prolific in captivity, with estimates of the total captive population at over 10,000 animals, mostly in the Anhui Research Centre of Chinese Alligator Reproduction and the Madras Crocodile Bank.
Komodo dragon 4,000–5,000 Their populations are restricted to the islands of Gili Motang (100), Gili Dasami (100), Rinca (1,300), Komodo (1,700), and Flores (perhaps 2,000).[25] However, there are concerns that there may presently be only 350 breeding females.[26]

Fish (Osteichthyes, Chondrichthyes, and Agnatha)[edit]

There are an estimated 3.5 trillion fish in the ocean.[27][28]


Insects (Insecta)[edit]

Recent figures indicate that there are more than 1.4 billion insects for each human on the planet,[29] or roughly 1019 (10 quintillion) individual living insects on the earth at any given time.[30] An article in The New York Times claimed that the world holds 300 pounds of insects for every pound of humans.[30] Ants have colonised almost every landmass on Earth. Their population is estimated as between 1016–1017 (10-100 quadrillion).[31] With an estimated 20 quadrillion ants their biomass comes to 12 megatons of dry carbon, which is more than all wild birds and non-human mammals combined.[32][33][34]



According to NASA in 2005, there were over 400 billion trees on our globe.[35] However, more recently, in 2015, using better methods, the global tree count has been estimated at 3 trillion.[36] Other studies show that the Amazonian forest alone yields approximately 430 billion trees.[37] Extrapolations from data compiled over a period of 10 years suggest that greater Amazonia, which includes the Amazon Basin and the Guiana Shield, harbors around 390 billion individual trees.[38]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Sturnus vulgaris". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. IUCN. Retrieved 2012-12-22.
  2. ^ "U.S. POPClock Projection". U.S. Census Bureau.
  3. ^ Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center. "2011 International Piping Plover Census: Study Description". United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
  4. ^ "Positive Piping Plover Count". Government of Saskatchewan. 6 Nov 2006. Archived from the original on 2013-05-06. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
  5. ^ "Mountain plover survey guidelines — Wyoming" (PDF). United States Fish and Wildlife Service. March 2002. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-06-02. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
  6. ^ Dell'Amore, Christine (13 April 2012). "Emperor Penguins Counted From Space—A First". National Geographic News. National Geographic. Archived from the original on April 15, 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-22.
  7. ^ Kunin, W.E.; Gaston, Kevin, eds. (31 December 1996). The Biology of Rarity: Causes and consequences of rare—common differences. Springer. ISBN 978-0412633805. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  8. ^ Stearns, Beverly Peterson; Stearns, S. C.; Stearns, Stephen C. (2000). Watching, from the Edge of Extinction. Yale University Press. p. preface x. ISBN 978-0-300-08469-6. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
  9. ^ Novacek, Michael J. (8 November 2014). "Prehistory's Brilliant Future". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-12-25.
  10. ^ G. Miller; Scott Spoolman (2012). Environmental Science - Biodiversity Is a Crucial Part of the Earth's Natural Capital. Cengage Learning. p. 62. ISBN 978-1-133-70787-5. Retrieved 2014-12-27.
  11. ^ Mora, C.; Tittensor, D.P.; Adl, S.; Simpson, A.G.; Worm, B. (23 August 2011). "How many species are there on Earth and in the ocean?". PLOS Biology. 9 (8): e1001127. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001127. PMC 3160336. PMID 21886479.
  12. ^ a b c Pennak, Sara; et al. (18 January 2012). "State of observed species: A decade of species discovery in review" (PDF). International Institute for Species Exploration; Arizona State University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 October 2012. Retrieved 2013-01-02.
  13. ^ Staff (2 May 2016). "Researchers find that Earth may be home to 1 trillion species". National Science Foundation. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  14. ^ Nuwer, Rachel (18 July 2015). "Counting All the DNA on Earth". The New York Times. New York. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-07-18.
  15. ^ "The Biosphere: Diversity of Life". Aspen Global Change Institute. Basalt, CO. Retrieved 2015-07-19.
  16. ^ Wade, Nicholas (25 July 2016). "Meet Luca, the Ancestor of All Living Things". New York Times. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  17. ^ a b Whitman WB, Coleman DC, Wiebe WJ (June 1998). "Prokaryotes: the unseen majority" (PDF). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 95 (12): 6578–6583. Bibcode:1998PNAS...95.6578W. doi:10.1073/pnas.95.12.6578. PMC 33863. PMID 9618454. Archived (PDF) from the original on 20 August 2008. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  18. ^ Whitman, William B.; Coleman, David C.; Wiebe, William J. (1998-06-09). "Prokaryotes: The unseen majority". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 95 (12): 6578–6583. Bibcode:1998PNAS...95.6578W. doi:10.1073/pnas.95.12.6578. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 33863. PMID 9618454.
  19. ^ Erin M. Eggleston; Ian Hewson (2016). "Abundance of Two Pelagibacter ubique Bacteriophage Genotypes along a Latitudinal Transect in the North and South Atlantic Oceans". Frontiers in Microbiology. 7: 1534. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2016.01534. PMC 5039313. PMID 27733846.
  20. ^ Merry Youle & Gemma Reguera (February 22, 2015). "The Most Abundant Small Things Considered".
  21. ^ "Life in deep Earth totals 15 to 23 billion tons of carbon—hundreds of times more than humans". phys.org. Retrieved 2018-12-30.
  22. ^ "Number of chickens worldwide from 1990 to 2018". Statista. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  23. ^ UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (July 2011). "Global Livestock Counts". The Economist. Archived from the original on July 15, 2016. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  24. ^ Alligators, River Dolphins, Giant Salamanders In China - China | Facts And Details Archived 2010-11-23 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ Trooper Walsh; Murphy, James Jerome; Claudio Ciofi; Colomba De LA Panouse (2002). Komodo Dragons: Biology and Conservation (Zoo and Aquarium Biology and Conservation Series). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Books. ISBN 1-58834-073-2.
  26. ^ "Ora (Komodo Island Monitor or Komodo Dragon)". American Museum of Natural History. Archived from the original on March 7, 2010. Retrieved 2007-01-15.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  27. ^ "Trillion". 23 May 2009.
  28. ^ "How Many Fishes Are There in the World". 5 July 2022.
  29. ^ Worrall, Simon (6 August 2017). "Without Bugs, We Might All Be Dead". National Geographic Society. Archived from the original on August 6, 2017. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  30. ^ a b ""Numbers of Insects - Species and individuals"". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 23 Nov 2022.
  31. ^ Embery, Joan and Lucaire, Ed (1983) Collection of Amazing Animal Facts.
  32. ^ "How many ants are on Earth? 20 quadrillion, study says". France 24. September 19, 2022. Retrieved September 19, 2022.
  33. ^ Grandoni, Dino (September 19, 2022). "How many ants are crawling the Earth? Nearly 20 quadrillion, scientists say". Washington Post. Retrieved September 19, 2022.
  34. ^ Schultheiss P, Nooten SS, Wang R, Wong MKL, Brassard F, Guénard B (2022). "The abundance, biomass, and distribution of ants on Earth". Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 119 (40): e2201550119. Bibcode:2022PNAS..11901550S. doi:10.1073/pnas.2201550119. PMC 9546634. PMID 36122199.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  35. ^ "Going Out On A Limb With A Tree-Person Ratio : Krulwich Wonders... : NPR".
  36. ^ Ehrenberg, Rachel (2 September 2015). "Global count reaches 3 trillion trees - Approach combines ground-based surveys with satellite imaging to find higher density than anticipated". Nature. doi:10.1038/nature.2015.18287. S2CID 189415504. Retrieved 28 November 2015.
  37. ^ "How many tree species are there in the Amazon and how many of them will go extinct?". Archived from the original on 26 March 2012.
  38. ^ "Field Museum scientists estimate 16,000 tree species in the Amazon". EurekAlert!.