A research team involving Yale University and the University of Colorado Boulder has developed a first public demonstration version of its “Map of Life,” an ambitious Web-based endeavor designed to show the distribution of all living plants and animals on the planet.
The demonstration version allows anyone with an Internet connection to map the known global distribution of almost 25,000 species of terrestrial vertebrate animals, including mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and North American freshwater fish. The database, which continues to expand, already contains hundreds of millions of records on the abundance and distribution of the planet’s diverse flora and fauna.
The initial version of the map tool being released today is intended to introduce it to the broader public, according to the researchers. It allows users to see several levels of detail for a given species — at its broadest, the type of environment it lives in, and at its finest, specific locations where the species’ presence has been documented. One function allows users to click a point on the map and generate a list of vertebrate species in the surrounding area. More functions will be added over time, according to the team.
“It is the where and the when of a species,” said Walter Jetz, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale and the project lead. “It puts at your fingertips the geographic diversity of life. Ultimately, the hope is for this literally to include hundreds of thousands of animal and plant species and show how much or indeed how little we know of their whereabouts.”
Read the Complete Announcement
Direct to First Demonstration Release of ‘Map of Life’