Geographic information about biodiversity is vital for understanding the many services nature provides and their potential changes, yet remains unreliable and often insufficient. Built on a scalable web platform geared for large biodiversity and environmental data, Map of Life endeavors to provide ‘best-possible’ species range information and species lists for any geographic area. Map of Life aims to support effective and global biodiversity education, monitoring, research and decision-making by assembling and integrating a wide range of knowledge about species distributions and their dynamics over time.
The Map of Life assembles and integrates different sources of data describing species distributions worldwide. These data include expert species range maps, species occurrence points, ecoregions, and protected areas from providers like IUCN, WWF, GBIF, and more. All data assets are stored, managed, backed up, and accessed using a hosted cloud instance.
The Map of Life architecture is built for scalability and performance using the Google App Engine, Google Earth Engine, Google Maps Engine, and CartoDB cloud platforms. The AppEngine platform-as-a-service (PaaS) hosts application logic and feeds information to various user interfaces via RESTful apis. More complex queries and analyses are handled by the Earth Engine platform, which is exposed to clients via AppEngine APIs. Maps and metadata queries are handled by the CartoDB Postgres database, proxied through the Amazon CloudFront CDN and AppEngine.