The Natural History Museum at the University of Oslo, in cooperation with a group of specialists, has carried out an assessment of the knowledge status of 1920 species groups. These species groups represent 97.5 % of the known biodiversity in Norway. The experts have assessed the knowledge status of taxonomy, distribution and ecology, as well as the number of described and undiscovered species in Norway.

As part of the Norwegian Taxonomy Initiative, the Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre commissioned the Museum of Natural History, at the University of Oslo, to prepare an updated overview of the biodiversity in Norway. The result of this work is presented in the report "Knowledge status for biodiversity in Norway 2015 (Elven and Søli 2016)1.

Key objectives of the Knowledge Report

The aims of the report are to:

  • provide an overview of the number of described species in Norway, as well as an estimate of the number of undiscovered species within each of the assessed groups
  • assess the level of knowledge for species groups using the parameters of taxonomy, distribution and ecology

An overview that exposes knowledge gaps is a useful tool for prioritising  the allocation of resources for research and survey work.

Nearly all Norwegian biodiversity is assessed

In total 1920 species groups at different taxonomic levels have been assessed. The groups cover 97.5 % of the known Norwegian biodiversity. The assessments cover all single-celled and multi-celled eukaryotic organisms. The eukaryotic organisms comprise the Alveolata, Amoebozoa, Animalia, Protozoa, Chromista, Fungi and Plantae kingdoms. The assessments do not include Archaea and Bacteria which together make up the prokaryotic organisms, nor do they include viruses. The systematic classification follows that which is used by the Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre in our species name database (Artsnavnebasen).

In Definitions and delimitations you can read more about which species are assessed.

Who carried out the assessments?

The work has been carried out by 60 specialists, including the editors Hallvard Elven and Geir Søli at the Natural History Museum, University of Oslo. These specialists represent a large part of the Norwegian expertise on the assessed groups. The majority of contributers are associated with scientific institutions and museums. In addition, many private individuals have contributed. For some organism groups, specialists from our neighbouring countries have also provided advice.

Due to a lack of specialists for various groups of organisms, some groups have not been assessed.

New knowledge about biodiversity in Norway

The first knowledge survey about biodiversity in Norway was published by the Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre in 2011, Biodiversity in Norway – a knowledge survey as at 2011 (Norwegian only) (Aagaard 2011). Since 2011, research and survey work has resulted in a considerable amount of new knowledge about biodiversity in Norway. For example, more than 2300 new species have been found in Norway via survey work as part of the Norwegian Taxonomy Initiative. Parallel with this, the Swedish Taxonomy Initiative has presented new knowledge on biodiversity in Sweden, which has also provided an important foundation for a new assessment of biodiversity in Norway. In 2015, all described eukaryotic species in Norway were registered in the Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre's name register (Artsnavnebasen). As at June 2015, 43 995 eukaryotic species were registered, approximately 3000 more species than in 2011.


1. The report is published in Norwegian as "Kunnskapsstatus for artsmangfoldet i Norge 2015" (Elven & Søli 2016). It is not available in English.