Mapping All Of The World’s Animals, So We Know Where To Save Them

These maps show the levels of biodiversity down to an incredibly granular level, and hopefully can help conservationists get the most bang for their buck (by focusing on places other than the Amazon).

If your goal is to protect species variety (biodiversity), it helps to have a fine-grained picture. A map showing data for an area 100 by 100 kilometers tells you some useful things about the state of population. But it might miss an awful lot.

“Such a coarse scale of analyzing the data causes many problems,” says Clinton Jenkins, a research scholar at North Carolina State. “For instance, a grid cell 100 kilometers across could include multiple Andean Mountain ranges within Colombia, yet we know many species occur only at one or another range, and often only at particular elevations within the mountains.”

Jenkins produced these maps, which are about 100-times more fine-grained than normal. They show the diversity (number of species) for mammals, amphibians and birds, across the world. The highest concentrations (red and yellow) are mostly in the tropics. Higher latitudes and deserts are blue, indicating lower numbers of species.

Jenkins hopes the maps will help improve decision-making on the ground. “When our analyses are at crude scales, they are of little guidance for regional decision-making, where people are often trying to decide which area of tens of square kilometers is to gain protection,” he says.

See the full and excellent article here on co-exist’s website