There are 43 705 known species in Norway, 65 % of which belong to the animal kingdom. The largest group is insects, with more than 18 000 species. It is estimated that there are around 60 000 species in Norway, many of which are yet to be discovered.
- A rich diversity of insects
- Every fifth species in Norway is a fungus
- Every other plant is a flowering plant (angiosperm)
- Large increase in the number of species
- Many more species can be discovered
The number of known species in Norway, in 2015, is 43 705. In terms of the seven kingdoms, 28 417 species belong to the animal kingdom (Animalia), 8418 species to the fungi kingdom (Fungi) and 4458 species to the plant kingdom (Plantae). These are the three largest kingdoms. A smaller number of species can be found in the Chromista kingdom (1105 species), the Protozoa kingdom (553 species), the Alveolata kingdom (479 species) and the Amoebozoa kingdom (275 species).
Several poorly surveyed groups, which are also likely to be rich in species, lack assessements. Such groups can be found in the Amoebozoa and Chromista kingdoms. The number of known species is therefore an estimated minimum.
A rich diversity of insects
The greatest species diversity is to be found among arthropods (Arthropoda) with 22 695 known species. Among the arthropods, insects are clearly the largest group (18 287 species) and make up 64% of the species in the animal kingdom.
Among the insects, most species belong to the groups true flies (Diptera), and sawflies, wasps, ants and bees (Hymenoptera). In each of these groups more than 5000 species have been documented in Norway. Non-biting midges (Chironomidae, 625 species) and fungus gnats (Mycetophilidae, 611 species) are examples of two large groups of true flies (Diptera). The majority of wasps belong to Apocrita (4494 species). We also find bees in this group, with 208 detected species in Norway, including 35 bumblebee species.
High biodiversity is also to be found among chordates (Chordata) and molluscs (Mollusca). The number of known species is assessed as being 1000 and 947 species respectively. Vertebrates (Vertebrata) comprise the majority of chordates, while snails (Gastropoda) are the largest group of molluscs.
Every fifth species in Norway is a fungus
There exists a great diversity of fungi and every fifth species in Norway belongs to the fungi kingdom. More than 90 % of the fungi species in Norway are Ascomycota (4570 species) or Basidiomycota (3804 species).
Lecanoromycetes is the largest species group of Ascomycota with more than 1600 species. In this group we find species that live together with green algae (or cyanobacteria) and form lichen.
Among the Basidiomycota are the Agaricomycetes, indisputably the largest species group with 3320 species. More than 2000 species belong to the order of gilled mushrooms (Agaricales). Many of the genera which we know well belong to this order, for example Cortinarius (370 species), champignons (Agaricus, 35 species) and Amanita (28 species).
Every other plant is a flowering plant (angiosperm)
Within the plant kingdom (4458 species) more than 2155 flowering plants, or angiosperms (Magnoliophyta), are known in Norway. This is decidely the largest species group in the plant kingdom. The angiosperms comprise 486 monocots (Liliopsida) – species with only one embryonic leaf and 1669 dicots (Magnoliopsida) – species with two embryonic leaves. The highest diversity of monocots is found in the order Poales (grass) with 323 species. The largest groups of angiosperms are Asteraceae (Asterales, 278 species) and species in the Rosaceae (Rosales, 272 species).
Large increase in the number of species
For many species groups the numbers from 2011 (Aagaard 2011) and 2015 (Elven & Søli 2015) are directly comparable. These groups show an increase of 10% in the number of known species, and a 50% increase in the estimate of undiscovered species. For example, the number of known species in the following groups increased from 7 – 23 % from 2011 to 2015: the fungi Ascomycota and Basidiomycota; sawflies, wasps, ants and bees (Hymenoptera); and true flies (Diptera).
One important reason for this increase is the comprehensive survey of species that is taking place via the Norwegian Taxonomy Initiative. Since the survey began in 2010, nearly 2300 new species have been added to the Norwegian flora and fauna. Unsurprisingly, most of the new species have been discovered in species-rich groups that are thought to have many undiscovered species i.e. groups like fungi (377 species), true flies (758 species) and sawflies, wasps, ants and bees (542 species). About a quarter of the new species for Norway are probably new species for science. A great number of the undiscovered species have been found in the ocean, in the species groups segmented worms (Annelida), flatworms (Platyhelminthes), molluscs (Mollusca) and sponges (Porifera).
Many more species can be discovered
The total number of species in Norway (both known and those yet to be discovered) is estimated to be 59 843 species. This estimate implies that only around 73% of the Norwegian biodiversity is known. Consequently, there are probably slightly more than 16 000 species that have not yet been discovered.
For some groups, like butterflies, we have a good level of knowledge about their biodiversity. For other groups, such as mites, we assume that we have only found about half of the species. Read more about poorly surveyed species in Many undiscovered species in Norway.