Map of Life shows distribution of any species throughout the world
By Ben Coxworth
May 17, 2012
Ever wondered if a certain species of animal can be found where you live? The Map of Life website aims to answer this question. Built on a Google Maps platform, it lists virtually all of the vertebrate animals that can be found at any one point in the world.
Map of Life is currently accessible in a debut version, and is the result of a Yale University-led collaboration between several institutions and organizations.
Users can either select a species and then see where it occurs, or they can select a location and then get a listing of almost all the mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles that can be found at that location – freshwater fish data is currently limited to North America. More features are in the works.
Information on the website was gathered from a variety of sources, such as museums, regional checklists, and the observations of both professional and amateur scientists.
The project was initially funded by the National Science Foundation and NASA. Other partners include the Encyclopedia of Life, Senckenberg Museum, BiK-F Germany, The International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
“Ultimately, the hope is for this literally to include hundreds of thousands of animals and plants, and show how much or indeed how little we know of their whereabouts,” said Yale’s Walter Jetz, an associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology who is leading the Map of Life effort.