International Institute for Species Exploration

The International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) is a research institute located in Syracuse, New York. Its mission is to improve taxonomical exploration and the cataloging of new species of flora and fauna. Since 2008, IISE has published a yearly "Top 10" of the most unusual or unique biota newly identified in the previous year, with the aim of drawing attention to the work done in taxonomy across the world over the previous year.

International Institute for Species Exploration
FocusTaxonomy, Biodiversity
Area served
World wide
OwnerState University of New York
Key people
Quentin D. Wheeler, Executive Director[1]

In 2011, the institute contributed towards the estimate that Earth was home to approximately 8.7 million species.


The International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) is a research facility dedicated to cataloging the Earth's species across all biological kingdoms.[2] IISE cites three reasons why an improved taxonomic understanding of life is important: without knowing what exists today, humans will be unable to tell when species go extinct; the diversity of life driven by billions of years of natural selection means nature likely holds the answers to many human problems; and to better appreciate our place in the world.[3]

IISE is hosted by the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and located in Syracuse, New York, United States. It was founded in 2007.[2] IISE was previously associated with Arizona State University.[4] The institute's executive director is Quentin D. Wheeler, an entomologist.[5]

In 2011, the Institute contributed to a widely publicized estimate that Earth is home to approximately 8.7 million species.[6]

Top 10 New Species listEdit

Starting in 2008, the IISE has published an annual list of the "Top 10 New Species" in an effort to increase public awareness of the diversity of life on Earth.[5] The list is credited with bringing attention to the abundance of new discovers, just as the world's species are declining. Additionally, Wheeler said he hopes it spurs a sense of urgency to catalog Earth's creatures.[3]

Each year an international panel picks the list from the 17,000–18,000 species described during the previous calendar year, emphasizing diversity with their picks.[7] To be eligible for inclusion, the species must have been formally described in an accredited scientific journal and named within the previous calendar year.[8] The list is published on or just before May 23, the birthday of Carl Linnaeus, the "father" of taxonomy. The list is unordered.[3] According to selection committee chair Antonio Valdecasas, it is very difficult to select the list due to the large number of species discovered each year. He added that "always surprised" by the diverse discoveries each year and that we are "very far" from a complete description of life on Earth.[3]

The list regularly draws considerable press attention. The Dehli Daily News said the list "highlights the most amazing species found last year", while the New Zealand Herald called the creatures it features "bizarre discoveries".[9] TIME magazine called the list the "best of the best when it comes to new life".[10]


The Top 10 New Species for 2012 were announced on May 24, 2012 and included (in alphabetical order):[11]


The Top 10 New Species for 2013 were announced on May 22, 2013 and included (in alphabetical order):[12][13][14]


The 2014 list was announced on May 22, 2014. According to National Geographic, the list featured "a lineup of startling creatures notable for their scrappiness, weirdness, thrift, and sloth."[15][16]


The list was announced on 23 May, to coincide with the birthday of Carolus Linnaeus.[17][18]

State of observed species reportEdit

The IISE also releases an annual report that inventories the complete list of species cataloged two years prior and discusses the state of new species discovery. The 2011 report, for example, found that 19,232 species were named in 2009, a 5.6% increase over the prior year. The report takes about two years to compile due to the lack of standardized registration for new species, and issue which IISE has campaigned for. It routinely finds that insects make up roughly half of all new species discovered, followed by vascular plants and arachnids.[4]


  1. ^ "Staff & Partners," Archived November 27, 2013, at the Wayback Machine IISE, Arizona State University. Accessed: February 22, 2014.
  2. ^ a b "About us". International Institute for Species Exploration. Retrieved May 22, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d Lawrence LeBlond (May 22, 2014). "Rich Biodiversity Of Species Makes Annual Top Ten List Of Discoveries". Red Orbit. Retrieved May 22, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Remy Melina (January 28, 2012). "Insects Top Newly Discovered Species List". Huffington Post. Retrieved May 24, 2014.
  5. ^ a b Rosanne Skirble (May 22, 2014). "New Species Identified in 2014". Voice of America. Retrieved May 22, 2014.
  6. ^ The Guardian (August 23, 2011). "Planet Earth is home to 8.7 million species, scientists estimate". London. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
  7. ^ James Vincent (May 22, 2014). "Top ten new species of 2014 - from tree-dwelling carnivores to translucent shrimp". The Independent. Retrieved May 22, 2014.
  8. ^ "Top 10 New Species Announced By Scientists". Red Orbit. May 22, 2014. Retrieved May 22, 2014.
  9. ^ "Top 10 New Species 2014 listed". Dehli Daily News. May 22, 2014. Retrieved May 22, 2014.
  10. ^ Bryan Walsh (May 22, 2014). "Top 10 New Species for 2014". TIME. Retrieved May 22, 2014.
  11. ^ Christine Dell'Amore (May 29, 2014). "Top Ten New Species: Snub-Nosed Monkey, Devil Worm, More". National Geographic. Retrieved May 24, 2014.
  12. ^ Newswise (May 22, 2013). "Scientists Announce Top 10 New Species". Arizona State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Newswise, Inc. Retrieved May 23, 2013.
  13. ^ Arizona State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (May 22, 2013). "Top 10 new species of 2012". ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, LLC. Retrieved May 23, 2013.
  14. ^ Varma S (May 23, 2013). "Amazing top 10 new species include glowing cockroach, tiniest vertebrate and new monkey". The Times of India. Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. Retrieved May 24, 2013.
  15. ^ Frazer, Jennifer (May 22, 2014). "Top 10 New Species of 2014". National Geographic. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
  16. ^ "Snail, gecko and carnivore in 'top 10 new species' 2014". BBC. May 22, 2014. Retrieved May 22, 2014.
  17. ^ "The ESF Top 10 New Species for 2015". State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Retrieved November 13, 2015.
  18. ^ Berenson, Tessa (May 21, 2015). "These Are the Top 10 New Species Discovered Last Year". Time. Retrieved November 13, 2015.

External linksEdit