The latest inventory of life in the United States has turned up an extra 100,000 species. The nation has at least 200,000 animals, plants, and fungi, according to Precious Heritage (2000, Stein et al., Oxford University Press). That impressive total doesn't include any of the national wealth of algae and other protists, bacteria, or viruses.
Relentless burrowing for data in recent surveys and studies doubled previous estimates, explains coeditor Bruce A. Stein of The Nature Conservancy in Arlington, Va. "We looked at peanut worms; we looked at tunicates, at spoon worms . . . ," he recalls.