Earth's biodiversity map updated for first time since 1876
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A 'life map' of biodiversity showing the organisation of terrestrial life on Earth has been updated after more than a century.
The original map, drawn up by British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace in 1876, was the first attempt to depict the myriad ways life has evolved on the world's continents.
Thanks to advances in modern technology and data on more than 20,000 species, scientists from University of Copenhagen have now produced a next generation map depicting the organisation of life on Earth.
The new map provides fundamental information regarding the diversity of life on our planet and is of major significance for future biodiversity research.
The new global map shows the division of nature into 11 large bio-geographic realms and shows how these areas relate to each other. It is the first study to combine evolutionary and geographical information for all known mammals, birds and
amphibians, a total of over 20,000 species.
The attempt to describe the natural world in an evolutionary context was made in 1876 by Wallace, the co-discoverer of the theory of natural selection, along with Charles Darwin.
"Our study is a long overdue update of one of the most fundamental maps in natural sciences. For the first time since Wallace's attempt we are finally able to provide a broad description of the natural world based on incredibly detailed information for thousands of vertebrate species," said researcher, Ben Holt in a statement.
The new map can be split into finer geographical details for each class of animals. It is made freely available to contribute to a wide range of biological sciences, as well as conservation planning and management of biodiversity.
Modern technology like DNA sequencing and a tremendous compilation of hundreds of thousands of distribution records on mammals, birds and amphibians across the globe has made it possible to produce the map.