The 'Map of Life' Will Track Every Plant and Animal on the Entire Planet The 'Map of Life' Will Track Every Plant and Animal on the Entire Planet
Environment

The 'Map of Life' Will Track Every Plant and Animal on the Entire Planet

by Sarah Laskow

May 14, 2012

Users can also search for a list of species within a particular area by right -licking on any point. Within 30 miles or so of Manhattan, one can find woodland voles, muskrats, smoky shrews, bobcats, and a slew of other species.

The team behind the project, led by Yale professor Walter Jetz, also is planning to create a mobile app for the map, which would generate a list of species based on the user’s location. They’re also looking for users to contribute to the project, helping to flag areas where the different data sets contradict each other, for instance.

Ultimately, the Map of Life could document the changes in biodiversity across the globe. “The idea behind the Map of Life isn't just about geographical distributions,” Guralnick says. “It's about the environment—climate change and landscape change.” It's important to understand how these changes are impacting species: A recent study found that biodiversity loss can affect the productivity of ecosystems on the same scale as pollution. Right now, scientists and land managers don’t have information about biodiversity on the scale that people actually live in. Putting all of the data into one place could help change that. 

Photo courtesy of the National Park Service

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The 'Map of Life' Will Track Every Plant and Animal on the Entire Planet