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Wallace's century-old map of natural world updated
Date:1/3/2013

Until today, Alfred Russell Wallace's century old map from 1876 has been the backbone for our understanding of global biodiversity. 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. Published online in Science Express today, the new map provides fundamental information regarding the diversity of life on our planet and is of major significance for future biodiversity research.

An essential question in understanding life on Earth is why species are distributed the way they are across the planet. This new global map shows the division of nature into 11 large biogeographic 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.

Based on the work at the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen involving 15 international researchers and 20 years of data compilation, the study is published today in Science Express.

The first attempt to describe the natural world in an evolutionary context was made in 1876 by Alfred Russel 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," says co-lead-author, Dr. Ben Holt from the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate.

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 manag
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Contact: Ben Holt
bholt@bio.ku.dk
44-786-686-2865
University of Copenhagen
Source:Eurekalert  

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