The ‘Map of Life’ Tracks All Life on Planet Earth
The Map of life is an online tool that tracks and catalogues all of the world’s biodiversity. Every species of animal and plant life is catalogued and presented to you on an in-browser app.
The project is led by biodiversity scientists Walter Jetz and Robert Gurainick. The goal is to create a living map that measures biodiversity in geographical terms, and shows changes in the territories a species inhabits as species grow and decline.
“Imagine if you had the world’s most amazing field guide,” said Guralnick, biodiversity scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder to Good Environment. “When you go to the national parks or out exploring, you had at your fingertips something that was not just a static book but the world’s most amazing field guide that changed and that you could contribute to.”
Right now the map is only in Beta version, with around 25,000 species included. There are over a million known species living on our planet, and those are just the ones we know about. There are potentially millions of undocumented species out there.
Gurainick and Jetz’s goal was to bring biodiversity maps into the modern age: “Where geography was 150 years… that’s kind of what we’re doing today in the world of biodiversity,” Guralnick told Good. “Whereas today anyone can zoom in on a digital map and see details at the neighborhood level, the finest-grained biodiversity data is orders of magnitude more difficult to capture. Different sources of data about a species also provide different types of information. Some are really good at telling you where species are not, Some of them are really good at telling you where species are.”
If you want to find out what is around your specific region, right-click on the map around where you live, and you will be able to select the species you want to track from a list. As well as a scientific project, it also makes a great teaching tool. Teachers will be able to show students of any age, the wildlife in their own back yards.
This is a screen cap that shows the prevalence of two different species of Wild Turkey, but you can explore the map for yourself, here.