University of Bristol
Wellcome Trust
Recommended by:
Society of Biology
PEEP for Physics & Ethics at GCSE


Click to enlarge
Rhino beetle - belongs to
possibly the most diverse
order of insects – the

Facts and figures

Figures for biodiversity are difficult to estimate and it is worth visiting the Natural History Museum webpage devoted to this.
 Visit the Natural History Museum webpage

Despite this difficulty, there are some agreed figures for biodiversity:

  • Total number of species on earth is between 13 and 14 million
  • About 1.75 million have been described
  • Plants and vertebrates account for only 3% of this estimated total
  • The majority of species belong to groups such as the insects, arachnids, fungi, nematodes and micro-organisms.
  • Rainforest has half the world’s species but only occupies 7% of the earth’s surface.
  • Plant species diversity can be calculated using the  Simpson’s diversity index formula (required by some examining boards).

For more detailed figures and maps, visit ‘The Convention on Global Diversity ‘ website, where you will find the most up-to-date facts and figures.
 Go to the CGD website


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Got to the ‘The Convention on Global Diversity’ website, Click on table 1.1 for Estimated numbers of described species, and possible global total.

Construct TWO pie graphs (using a suitable program such as Microsoft Excel) to show the number of described and estimated species for the 5 main kingdoms listed.