Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Wallace's century-old map of natural world updated

Date:
December 20, 2012
Source:
University of Copenhagen
Summary:
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 have now produced a next generation map depicting the organization 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.

This new global map shows the division of nature into 11 large biogeographic realms and shows how these areas relate to each other.
Credit: Science/AAAS

Until today, Alfred Russel Wallace's century old map 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 management of biodiversity.

Hundreds of thousands of records

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:

"The map provides important baseline information for future ecological and evolutionary research. It also has major conservation significance in light of the on-going biodiversity crisis and globalenvironmental change. Whereas conservation planners have been identifying priority areas based on the uniqueness of species found in a given place, we can now begin to define conservation priorities based on millions of years of evolutionary history," says Dr. Jean-Philippe Lessard, the other co-lead-author from the Copenhagen center, who is currently based at McGill University, Canada.

Senior author Carsten Rahbek, director of the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate adds: "Despite the incredible advances of natural science, we are still battling to understand the underlying laws that govern life on the planet. This holistic description of the natural world that we provide could be a new cornerstone in fundamental biology."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Copenhagen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. B. G. Holt, J.-P. Lessard, M. K. Borregaard, S. A. Fritz, M. B. Araujo, D. Dimitrov, P.-H. Fabre, C. H. Graham, G. R. Graves, K. A. Jonsson, D. Nogues-Bravo, Z. Wang, R. J. Whittaker, J. Fjeldsa, C. Rahbek. An Update of Wallace's Zoogeographic Regions of the World. Science, 2012; DOI: 10.1126/science.1228282

Cite This Page:

University of Copenhagen. "Wallace's century-old map of natural world updated." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121220143518.htm>.
University of Copenhagen. (2012, December 20). Wallace's century-old map of natural world updated. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121220143518.htm
University of Copenhagen. "Wallace's century-old map of natural world updated." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121220143518.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Scientists have developed a new device that mimics the way octopuses blend in with their surroundings to hide from dangerous predators. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) Malaysia's last "fish listeners" -- practitioners of a dying local art of listening underwater to locate their quarry -- try to keep the ancient technique alive in the face of industrial trawling and the depletion of stocks. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
USDA Cracks Down On Imports From Foreign Puppy Mills

USDA Cracks Down On Imports From Foreign Puppy Mills

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) New USDA measures to regulate dog imports aim to crack down on buying dogs from overseas puppy mills. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bone Marrow Drug Regrows Hair In Some Alopecia Patients

Bone Marrow Drug Regrows Hair In Some Alopecia Patients

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) Researchers performed an experiment using an FDA-approved drug known as ruxolitinib. They found it to be successful in the majority of patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins