Map of Life
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Latest Press Coverage

Map of Life has been covered by newspapers, magazines and blogs from around the world. Here are a few selected quotes from their articles, as well as links to access each article in its entirety.

Space-based tracker to give scientists a beyond-bird’s-eye-view of wildlife

The International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space, or ICARUS, will be flying closer to the sun than ever when a pair of Russian cosmonauts installs the antennae for its state-of-the-art animal tracking system on the exterior of the International Space Station on Aug. 15. The installation will be one small step for the cosmonauts and one giant leap for Yale biodiversity research.

Thanks to the recently founded Max Planck-Yale Center (MPYC) for Biodiversity Movement and Global Change, Yale and U.S.-based biodiversity researchers will be among the first to make use of the big data that this groundbreaking scientific instrument will be collecting by early 2019.

For the past 16 years, ICARUS has been simultaneously developing the tiniest transmitters (by 2025, the team hopes to scale down solar-powered backpacks enough to fit them on desert locusts) and some of the most massive antennae (the equipment that the cosmonauts will be installing). Together, these two new technologies will give biodiversity researchers an unprecedented, extraterrestrial perspective on the lives of some of Earth’s smallest and most mobile creatures, such as fruit bats, baby turtles, parrots, and songbirds.

“The system represents a quantum leap for the study of animal movements and migration, and will enable real-time biodiversity monitoring at a global scale,” said Walter Jetz, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale and co-director of the MPYC.

"I expect ICARUS to exceed what has existed to date by at least an order of magnitude and someday potentially several orders." -walter jetz

“In the past, tracking studies have been limited to, at best, a few dozen simultaneously followed individuals, and the tags were large and readouts costly,” added Jetz. “In terms of scale and cost, I expect ICARUS to exceed what has existed to date by at least an order of magnitude and someday potentially several orders. This new tracking system has the potential to transform multiple fields of study.”

Even with the limited tracking technology available, biodiversity researchers have already been able to predict volcanic eruptions by tracking the movements of goat herds and understand impacts of climate change by following migration changes in birds. This new space station-based system will allow researchers to see “not only where an animal is but also what it is doing,” explained Martin Wikelski, chief strategist for ICARUS, director of the Max Planck Center for Ornithology, and co-director with Jetz of the MPYC.

“At a global scale, we will be able to monitor individual animal behaviors as well as get a grasp of their intricate life histories and interactions with each other,” said Wikelski. In addition to positional coordinates, the transmitters are able to capture each animal’s acceleration, alignment to the magnetic field of Earth, and moment-to-moment environmental conditions, including ambient temperature, air pressure, and humidity.

The technology provides an exciting tool to monitor changing wildlife and the connectivity of landscapes for conservation and public health, explained Jetz. Researchers will be able to apply this new language of mass animal movement to everything from greater forewarning of geological disasters, such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, to monitoring the next potential disease outbreak in humans. For example, Wikelski plans to use the new system to advance his own project of tracking the movement of African fruit bats as sentinels for finding the hosts of the Ebola virus. (Fruit bats have antibodies against, but do not transmit, this deadly disease.)

“Tracked animals can act as intelligent sensors and biological sentinels and in near real-time inform us about the biodiversity effects of ongoing environmental change,” explained Jetz.

By the beginning of 2019, Wikelski and colleagues will have 1,000 transmitters in the field, but eventually, they hope to grow that number to 100,000. Every time a transmitter enters the International Space Station’s beam — roughly four times daily — it may send up a data packet of 223 bytes. From there, the data will be relayed back to the ground station and subsequently distributed to research teams. All data — except sensitive conservation data such as rhino locations — will also be published on the publicly accessible database MoveBank, and will inform maps and trends in Map of Life, a web-based initiative headed by Jetz that integrates global biodiversity evidence.

As with all fields of scientific research, however, the data are only as good as their processing and analysis. MPYC will be the primary initial interpreter of the big data harvested by the ICARUS satellite. Fortunately, Jetz notes, with Yale’s investment in integrative data science as a research priority, MPYC can handle the big data sets that the ICARUS tracking system generates.

“Going back to my own Ph.D. work observing and tracking nocturnal birds in Africa with much inferior technology,” said Jetz, “I was always driven by the wish to document and understand biodiversity from the level of the individual up to the global scale.”

“The new technology will allow us to put the bigger picture together,” Jetz continued. “Thanks to the near-global scale of ICARUS and satellite-based remote sensing of the environment, we are finally able to connect individual behaviors and decisions with the use of space and environments at large scales. Our collaboration with Max Planck and ICARUS is a wonderful enabler of and complement to our work at Yale.”

View article on Yale News

Mapping Species for Half-Earth

The Significance of Biodiversity

Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth, the building blocks of functioning ecosystems that provide the natural services on which all life depends, including people. Species, the fundamental units of biodiversity, are in the midst of an extinction crisis, losing ground globally at a rate 1,000 times greater than at any time in human history due to factors like habitat loss and climate change.

How do we stop this? Knowing where species live and the pressures threatening them is paramount in reversing the extinction crisis and maintaining the health of our planet, for ourselves and for future generations. As the impact of humans increasingly encroaches on critical habitats everywhere, determining ‘where’ to protect is just as critical as ‘how much’ to protect.

The Half-Earth Project In his book, Half-Earth, acclaimed biologist Edward O. Wilson proposed a solution commensurate with the problem: conserve half the Earth’s land and sea to protect the bulk of biodiversity from extinction. Scientists agreed that this proposal was both necessary and possible.

“In order to stave off the mass extinction of species, including our own, we must move swiftly to preserve the biodiversity of our planet.” — E.O. Wilson Born from his book and built on a solid scientific foundation, the Half-Earth Project is working to conserve half the Earth by protecting sufficient habitat to reverse the species extinction crisis and ensure the long-term health of our planet.

The next question the Half-Earth Project needed to answer was, which Half?

Mapping Half-Earth

Enter Map of Life. Map of Life is a core tool of the Half-Earth Project, which is working to identify and prioritize areas of greatest biodiversity value, and communicate this information in new, dynamic, and engaging ways.

Based out of Yale University and the University of Florida, Map of Life assembles, integrates, and analyzes data on global species distributions. It brings together a wealth of information, assessing information on nearly 100,000 species from hundreds of data sources with multiple data types.

Building on several years of close collaboration with Google, Map of Life leverages Google Cloud Platform services to support biodiversity research, monitoring, education, and decision-making. By leveraging an enormous biodiversity database and a suite of spatial modeling tools, Map of Life is able to capture detailed patterns of species distributions at planetary scale.

Today, the Half-Earth Project Map is using new and existing data and applying cutting-edge capabilities of Google Cloud Platform with the goal of mapping terrestrial, marine, and freshwater species at up to 1 kilometer resolution.

Science-Driven Conservation: A big data problem using Google Cloud Platform solutions Data Warehousing For an initial set of analyses we leveraged the PostGIS suite of spatial functions to measure expected species presence by overlaying species range map polygons with a global grid composed of approximately 110 km x 110 km cells.

Outputs from these intersections are stored on Google Cloud Storage and imported to the BigQuery data warehousing service. The speed at which BigQuery can aggregate across large tables and compute metrics has been vital for analyzing large volumes of biodiversity data. This is increasingly important as the Half-Earth Project continues to add new species groups and generates higher resolution predictions of where species occur. Tables currently in the hundreds of millions of rows may scale to billions or trillions of rows as our taxonomic and spatial resolution increases. The low storage cost and transaction-based pricing BigQuery offers allows us to query and aggregate tables of such size without the maintenance and overhead required by a traditional data warehouse solution.

Measuring Biodiversity One aspect of our work measured biodiversity data in two ways: richness and range rarity.

Richness is the number of species occurring, or expected to occur, within a given area. Richness is the simplest way to measure biodiversity.

Range rarity is a continuous metric of range-restrictedness and crucial for considering species with very small ranges that are often of greatest conservation concern. Range rarity is a close proxy for the irreplaceability of a location when the goal is to conserve as many species as possible.

Determining Goals for Species Protection Another aspect of our analysis included estimating the amount of land already protected within any given ca. 100km cells grid cell (mentioned above). To map the protected area network, we filtered the World Database of Protected Areas, which became available as an Earth Engine public table asset in 2017, to remove redundant reserves and so called “paper-parks” that lack on-the-ground biodiversity protection. For areas that lack a geometry and only include a point location and reserve area, we generated a polygon by buffering the point provided to the size of the park. We then computed the area protected within each grid cell, and exported the results to Cloud Storage.

While no habitat loss is ideal, species with larger range sizes can generally afford to lose more habitat than those with smaller ranges. Accordingly, we determined individual species “protected” status based on range size and the proportion of their range that is protected. As the amount of protected area increases, the number of species protected also increases.

But what is good for one species group is not necessarily ideal for another, and what is good for the whole of biodiversity may leave small groups vulnerable.

To address this, we leveraged BigQuery’s support for user defined functions (UDF) and computed adequate protection levels with a simple javascript function. Given the ability to apply this test to each species, we ranked grid cells for each species group and tested to see how many species’ global protections met the criteria via a BigQuery window function run across the ranked grid.

Progress toward Half-Earth will be measured as a running total of conservation protections, with the ultimate goal being half the Earth’s land and sea. BigQuery window functions allow this to be computed quickly for each cell in the grid. As we selected breakpoints up to 50% of the Earth’s area, we tested each species with our function to see whether it met its minimum protected area, then counted the number of species that met the criteria for each step in the scenario.

Putting It Together To ensure rapid map tile delivery to the globe, we generated and exported static tilesets to Cloud Storage using Earth Engine’s Export.map.toCloudStorage() feature. This meant exporting compiled data as CSV from BigQuery, which can be re-joined to the grid Shapefile using OGR command line tools and ingested to Earth Engine as a table asset. From there we were able to visualize and explore the data in the Earth Engine code editor and export tiles once we were satisfied with the appearance.

Finally, with our Cloud Storage bucket populated with map tiles and data to drive charts and infographics, the front-end wizards at Vizzuality plugged in to our API to bring it all to life on the Half-Earth Map.

The Half-Earth Map pieces together species distribution data, the protected areas map, and a mask of human activities into a single map useful to scientists, conservationists, communities, decision-makers and anyone interested in biodiversity and the health of our planet.

View article on Medium

Mapping Earth’s Species to Identify Conservation Priorities

THE HALF-EARTH PROJECT IS ‘UNLOCKING A NEW ERA IN DATA-DRIVEN CONSERVATION.’ The Half-Earth Project has launched online the first phase of their cutting-edge global biodiversity map. This unique, interactive asset uses the latest science and technology to map thousands of species around the world and illuminate where future conservation efforts should be located to best care for our planet and ourselves.

“The extinction of species by human activity continues to accelerate, fast enough to eliminate more than half of all species by the end of this century,” said E.O. Wilson in the New York Times Sunday Review on March 3. “We have to enlarge the area of Earth devoted to the natural world enough to save the variety of life within it. The formula widely agreed upon by conservation scientists is to keep half the land and half the sea of the planet as wild and protected from human intervention or activity as possible.”

Born from Wilson’s book Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life, the Half-Earth Project is providing the urgently needed research, leadership and knowledge necessary to conserve half the planet’s surface. The new map sits at the center of this effort. By mapping the biodiversity of our planet, we can identify the best places to conserve to safeguard the maximum number of species.

“The Half-Earth Project is mapping the fine distribution of species across the globe to identify the places where we canprotect the highest number of species,” Wilson said. “By determining which blocks of land and sea we can string together for maximum effect, we have the opportunity to support the most biodiverse places in the world as well as the people who call these paradises home.”

The Half-Earth Project is targeting completion of the fine-scale species distribution map for most known terrestrial, marine, and freshwater plant and animal species within 5 years.

“This mapping tool is unlocking a new era in data-driven conservation,” said Paula Ehrlich, President and CEO of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation and head of the Half-Earth Project. “It will provide the scientific foundation upon which communities, scientists, conservationists and decision-makers can achieve the goal of Half-Earth.”

A $5 million leadership gift from E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation board member Jeff Ubben and his wife Laurie will seed the second phase of the Half-Earth Project’s mapping effort.

“Half-Earth can’t wait. We have to work quickly and we need to be smart about how we do the work,” said Jeff Ubben. “This map will give us the information we need to make strong conservation investments.”

“Ed Wilson framed Half-Earth as a moonshot necessary to preserve the future health of our planet,” Ehrlich said. “The investment in our work from Jeff and Laurie Ubben attaches rocket boosters to this moonshot.”

View article on Half-Earth Project

The 8 Million Species We Don't Know

The history of conservation is a story of many victories in a losing war. Having served on the boards of global conservation organizations for more than 30 years, I know very well the sweat, tears and even blood shed by those who dedicate their lives to saving species. Their efforts have led to major achievements, but they have been only partly successful.

The extinction of species by human activity continues to accelerate, fast enough to eliminate more than half of all species by the end of this century. Unless humanity is suicidal (which, granted, is a possibility), we will solve the problem of climate change. Yes, the problem is enormous, but we have both the knowledge and the resources to do this and require only the will.

The worldwide extinction of species and natural ecosystems, however, is not reversible. Once species are gone, they’re gone forever. Even if the climate is stabilized, the extinction of species will remove Earth’s foundational, billion-year-old environmental support system. A growing number of researchers, myself included, believe that the only way to reverse the extinction crisis is through a conservation moonshot: We have to enlarge the area of Earth devoted to the natural world enough to save the variety of life within it.

The formula widely agreed upon by conservation scientists is to keep half the land and half the sea of the planet as wild and protected from human intervention or activity as possible. This conservation goal did not come out of the blue. Its conception, called the Half-Earth Project, is an initiative led by a group of biodiversity and conservation experts (I serve as one of the project’s lead scientists). It builds on the theory of island biogeography, which I developed with the mathematician Robert MacArthur in the 1960s.

Island biogeography takes into account the size of an island and its distance from the nearest island or mainland ecosystem to predict the number of species living there; the more isolated an ecosystem, the fewer species it supports. After much experimentation and a growing understanding of how this theory works, it is being applied to the planning of conservation areas.

So how do we know which places require protection under the definition of Half-Earth? In general, three overlapping criteria have been suggested by scientists. They are, first, areas judged best in number and rareness of species by experienced field biologists; second, “hot spots,” localities known to support a large number of species of a specific favored group such as birds and trees; and third, broad-brush areas delineated by geography and vegetation, called ecoregions.

All three approaches are valuable, but applying them in too much haste can lead to fatal error. They need an important underlying component to work — a more thorough record of all of Earth’s existing species. Making decisions about land protection without this fundamental knowledge would lead to irreversible mistakes.

The most striking fact about the living environment may be how little we know about it. Even the number of living species can be only roughly calculated. A widely accepted estimate by scientists puts the number at about 10 million. In contrast, those formally described, classified and given two-part Latinized names (Homo sapiens for humans, for example) number slightly more than two million. With only about 20 percent of its species known and 80 percent undiscovered, it is fair to call Earth a little-known planet.

Paleontologists estimate that before the global spread of humankind the average rate of species extinction was one species per million in each one- to 10-million-year interval. Human activity has driven up the average global rate of extinction to 100 to 1,000 times that baseline rate. What ensues is a tragedy upon a tragedy: Most species still alive will disappear without ever having been recorded. To minimize this catastrophe, we must focus on which areas on land and in the sea collectively harbor the most species.

Building on new technologies, and on the insight and expertise of organizations and individuals who have dedicated their lives the environment, the Half-Earth Project is mapping the fine distribution of species across the globe to identify the places where we can protect the highest number of species. By determining which blocks of land and sea we can string together for maximum effect, we have the opportunity to support the most biodiverse places in the world as well as the people who call these paradises home. With the biodiversity of our planet mapped carefully and soon, the bulk of Earth’s species, including humans, can be saved.

By necessity, global conservation areas will be chosen for what species they contain, but in a way that will be supported, and not just tolerated, by the people living within and around them. Property rights should not be abrogated. The cultures and economies of indigenous peoples, who are de facto the original conservationists, should be protected and supported. Community-based conservation areas and management systems such as the National Natural Landmarks Program, administered by the National Park Service, could serve as a model.

To effectively manage protected habitats, we must also learn more about all the species of our planet and their interactions within ecosystems. By accelerating the effort to discover, describe and conduct natural history studies for every one of the eight million species estimated to exist but still unknown to science, we can continue to add to and refine the Half-Earth Project map, providing effective guidance for conservation to achieve our goal.

The best-explored groups of organisms are the vertebrates (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes), along with plants, especially trees and shrubs. Being conspicuous, they are what we familiarly call “wildlife.” A great majority of other species, however, are by far also the most abundant. I like to call them “the little things that run the world.” They teem everywhere, in great number and variety in and on all plants, throughout the soil at our feet and in the air around us. They are the protists, fungi, insects, crustaceans, spiders, pauropods, centipedes, mites, nematodes and legions of others whose scientific names are seldom heard by the bulk of humanity. In the sea and along its shores swarm organisms of the other living world — marine diatoms, crustaceans, ascidians, sea hares, priapulids, coral, loriciferans and on through the still mostly unfilled encyclopedia of life.

Do not call these organisms “bugs” or “critters.” They too are wildlife. Let us learn their correct names and care about their safety. Their existence makes possible our own. We are wholly dependent on them.

With new information technology and rapid genome mapping now available to us, the discovery of Earth’s species can now be sped up exponentially. We can use satellite imagery, species distribution analysis and other novel tools to create a new understanding of what we must do to care for our planet. But there is another crucial aspect to this effort: It must be supported by more “boots on the ground,” a renaissance of species discovery and taxonomy led by field biologists.

Within one to three decades, candidate conservation areas can be selected with confidence by construction of biodiversity inventories that list all of the species within a given area. The expansion of this scientific activity will enable global conservation while adding immense amounts of knowledge in biology not achievable by any other means. By understanding our planet, we have the opportunity to save it.

As we focus on climate change, we must also act decisively to protect the living world while we still have time. It would be humanity’s ultimate achievement.

View article on the New York Times

Map of Life: Preserving biodiversity with data

About Map of Life Map of Life supports global biodiversity education, monitoring, research, and decision-making by integrating and analyzing global information about species distributions and dynamics. Using hosted cloud technology, Map of Life makes its data available to scholars, researchers, students, teachers, and conservationists.

Industries: Education, Non-profit Location: United States Products: App Engine, BigQuery, Cloud SQL, Cloud Storage, Compute Engine, Google Earth Engine

Map of Life supports biodiversity education, monitoring, research, and decision-making by using Google Cloud Platform products to collect, analyze, and visually represent global data

Stores over 600M records for 44K+ species

Google Cloud Platform Results Speeds up data analysis required for accurate assessments of endangered species Provides scientific evidence to support conservation efforts Scales on demand to support additions and updates to large data volumes Stores over 600M records for 44K+ species

The richness and diversity of life on Earth is fundamental to the complex systems that inhabit it. But phenomena including climate change, pollution, unsustainable agriculture, and habitat destruction and degradation threaten the planet’s ecosystems and inhabitants. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates that wildlife populations worldwide declined by 58% between 1970 and 2012.

To reverse such trends, scientists, conservationists, and governments need to know where and how to target efforts to help prevent extinction and preserve biodiversity. Yale University and the University of Florida (UF) partnered to tackle the challenge by collecting and analyzing global sources of data and making information available to help guide research, policy, and conservation.

“Google Cloud Platform offers all the tools we need for large-scale data management and analysis. Its integration with Google Earth Engine makes it ideal for data visualization.” —Walter Jetz, Associate Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University

Their solution, Map of Life, contains data about vertebrates, plants, and insects from international, national, and local sources, including BirdLife International, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). Yale and UF chose Google Cloud Platform to support Map of Life’s data storage, analysis, and mapping because of its superior ability to scale, integrate, manage, mine, and display data.

“Google Cloud Platform offers all the tools we need for large-scale data management and analysis,” says Walter Jetz, Associate Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University. “Its integration with Google Earth Engine and Google Maps make it ideal for data visualization.”

Mapping where species are at-risk

Map of Life currently draws from more than 600 million records worldwide that contain information about approximately 44,351 species of vertebrates, plants, and insects and more than 700,000 species names, stores the information in Google Cloud Storage. Its scalable, high-performance architecture also includes the Google App Engine platform-as-a-service (PaaS) to host application logic and feed information to various user interfaces via RESTful application program interfaces (APIs). Geolocation and spatial data can be analyzed and displayed through Google App Engine APIs that connect to the Google Earth Engine, and CARTO geolocation data cloud platforms. The Map of Life CARTO service runs on Google Compute Engine virtual machines to improve scalability of on-demand vector mapping and query needs.

Combining data from multiple sources allows Map of Life to estimate the distribution of and trends within at-risk species and make this information available to naturalists, conservation groups, natural resource managers, scientists, and interested amateurs. Anyone who visits the website or downloads the mobile app can view the information.

Google Compute Engine performs complex data analyses to predict which species are at risk. The science behind understanding biodiversity and identifying and predicting trends within species requires multiple analytic iterations, each of which accounts for corrections and new input from scientists. Google Compute Engine is particularly well suited for this because of how quickly it processes each iteration.

“Map of Life uses Google BigQuery to analyze massive data sets, quickly. We can perform a query on 600 million species occurrence records in less than a minute, helping scientists reach conclusions more quickly.” —Jeremy Malczyk, Lead Software Engineer, Map of Life

“Every day we’re gathering more data, including from remote sensors,” says Walter. “Using Google Cloud Platform and Google Earth Engine, we’re able to make more accurate predictions about at-risk species worldwide.”

Map of Life continually incorporates new data sets, including those from individual observers who submit observations about vertebrates, plants, and insects. The platform even integrates remote-sensing data from Google Earth Engine and uses Google BigQuery to analyze large sets of unstructured data.

“Map of Life uses Google BigQuery to analyze massive data sets, quickly,” says Jeremy Malczyk, Lead Software Engineer for Map of Life. “We can perform a query on 600 million species occurrence records in less than a minute, helping scientists reach conclusions more quickly.”

Global conservation powered by data More than 100,000 scientists and concerned citizens already use Map of Life for biodiversity research and discovery. Map of Life is also developing new tools and visualizations to support the specific needs of government agencies and conservation organizations to help support the development of environmental policy.

The Chicago Field Museum and Map of Life received a $300,000 MacArthur Foundation grant to support conservation efforts in South America. Map of Life is creating data visualization dashboards for park managers, who can use the biodiversity information to improve conservation strategies in protected areas across Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.

“Humankind has historically had very little information about biodiversity with sufficient spatial detail at a global scale. Map of Life is setting out to change that,” adds Walter. “By combining in data and models we aim to help everyone from eco-tourists who can appreciate biodiversity wherever they travel, to resource managers who need to handle development in a sustainable way, and to governments who want to protect biodiversity.”

View article on Google Cloud Platform

Map of Life: new global biodiversity patterns pages launched

Map of Life has released a first suite of maps that aggregate biodiversity patterns. These pages feature global biodiversity patterns based on publications in Nature and PNAS. The types of maps available are:


Species Phylogenetic Functional
Species Richness Phylogenetic Diversity Functional Diversity
Species Endemism Phylogenetic Endemism Functional Endemism
Local Species Diversity Priority Local Phylogenetic Diversity Priority Local Functional Diversity Priority
Global Species Diversity Priority Global Phylogenetic Diversity Priority Global Functional Diversity Priority

Explore these new resources here.

View article on JetzLab

Study: Targeted conservation could protect more of Earth's biodiversity

Research by Yale and the University of Grenoble documents where additional conservation efforts globally could most effectively support the safeguarding of species (some examples shown here) that are particularly distinct in their functions or their position in the family tree of life. (Image credits: family tree illustration, Laura Pollock; Solenodon paradoxus photo, Nate Upham; additional photos, Wikipedia.) A new study finds that major gains in global biodiversity can be achieved if an additional 5% of land is set aside to protect key species.

Scientists from Yale University and the University of Grenoble said such an effort could triple the protected range of those species and safeguard their functional diversity. The findings underscore the need to look beyond species numbers when developing conservation strategies, the researchers said.

“Biodiversity conservation has mostly focused on species, but some species may offer much more critical or unique functions or evolutionary heritage than others — something current conservation planning does not readily address,” said Walter Jetz, a Yale associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and director of the Yale Center for Biodiversity and Global Change.

“We show that a direct consideration of these other biodiversity facets identifies different regions as high-priority for conservation than a focus on species does, and more effectively safeguards functions or evolutionary heritage,” Jetz said. “We find that through the smart placement of conservation areas, strong gains in the conservation of the multiple facets of biodiversity facets are possible.”

The study appears online May 24 in the journal Nature. Laura Pollock of the University of Grenoble is the study’s first author, Jetz is senior author, and Wilfried Thuiller of the University of Grenoble is co-author.

The researchers noted that 26% of the world’s bird and mammal species are not reliably included in protected areas. The outlook for filling gaps in bird and mammal diversity could improve dramatically by smartly expanding the areas currently managed for conservation, they said.

The researchers advocate a conservation strategy that emphasizes global representation, i.e., the planetary safeguarding of species function or evolutionary heritage planet-wide, rather than local representation. They estimate that a carefully prepared 5% increase in conservation area would allow a dramatically improved capture of bird and mammal biodiversity facets; an approach focused on species numbers alone would be much less optimal, the researchers said.

Jetz and his colleagues also said their approach enables a more comprehensive guidance and capture of progress as mandated by the Convention on Biological Diversity and under evaluation by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

“Given the current biodiversity crisis, these results are encouraging because they show big conservation gains are possible for aspects of biodiversity that might otherwise be overlooked in conservation plans,” Pollock said. “This biodiversity is key to retaining the tree of life or functioning ecosystems, which nicely fits declared international policy goals. This approach can be updated and refined as the world’s biodiversity becomes better understood, catalogued, and documented.”

The researchers have created interactive web maps in the Map of Life project to accompany the study. They can be found at: https://mol.org/patterns/facets

The National Science Foundation, the Yale Center for Biodiversity and Global Change, the People’s Programme of the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme, and the European Research Council supported the research.

View article on YaleNews

How Map of Life helps preserve Earth’s biodiversity with Google Cloud Platform

Global biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate: The World Wildlife Foundation estimates the decline of two thirds of the earth's vertebrate populations by 2020, providing supporting evidence that we are currently in an extinction crisis. With so many species at risk, it’s difficult for scientists, conservationists and government agencies to know how and where to prioritize and target efforts to halt extinctions and preserve biodiversity.

Map of Life, a collaborative project hosted by Yale University and the University of Florida, endeavors to tackle this challenge by providing comprehensive biodiversity information that integrates data from a large number of sources, including museums, conservation groups, government agencies and individuals. It layers an astounding amount of information for hundreds of thousands of species and using a rapidly growing amount of data, currently over 600 million records, on web and mobile-based Google Maps.

Map of Life needed a cloud-based platform to host their considerably large database, and chose Google Cloud Platform because it offers the best scalable tools to integrate, manage, mine and display data, additionally integrating products with Google Earth Engine and Google Maps.

“Google Cloud Platform offers all the tools we needed for large-scale data management and analysis. Its integration with Google Earth Engine and Google Maps make it ideal for data visualization.”

— Walter Jetz, Associate Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University.

Pinpointing at-risk species

Combining data from multiple sources, Map of Life provides estimates of the distribution and potential trends of at-risk species and makes this information available to naturalists, conservation groups, resource managers, and global threat assessors. Anyone who visits the website or downloads the app can get information about which species occur where, globally. Google Cloud Storage hosts the data and scales automatically as the amount of information grows. Google App Engine runs a middleware API that integrates the data, makes it available to researchers, and displays it on Google Maps. Google Compute Engine performs data analyses to predict which species are at risk.

In biodiversity science, making predictions is extremely complex and requires many iterations, each of which includes corrections and new input from scientists. Compute Engine is particularly well-suited for this because of how quickly it performs each iteration. That allows more iterations to be run in a given time period.

“Every day we’re gathering more data, including from remote sensors. Using Google Cloud Platform and Google Earth Engine, we’re able to make more accurate predictions about at-risk species worldwide,” says Jetz.

Map of Life continually incorporates new data sets from resources around the world. It also allows people to send in their own observations about birds, mammals, cacti, and many more organisms. This platform integrates remote-sensing data from Google Earth Engine additionally utilizing Google BigQuery to perform queries on very large data sets.

“Map of Life uses Google BigQuery to analyse massive data sets, quickly. We can perform a query on 600 million species occurrence records in less than a minute, helping scientists reach conclusions more quickly,” says Jeremy Malczyk, lead software engineer for Map of Life.

Addressing biodiversity and conservation across the globe

Well over 100,000 scientists and citizen scientists are using Map of Life for biodiversity research and discovery. Map of Life is now developing visualizations and tools to support the specific needs of government agencies and conservation bodies and to help decision-making for environmental policy. In September 2016, the Chicago Field Museum and Map of Life received a $300,000 MacArthur Foundation grant to support conservation efforts in South America. Dashboards will provide park managers with biodiversity information including lists of species expected in a particular location. That information will be used to improve conservation strategies in protected areas within South America.

“Humankind has historically had very little information about biodiversity with sufficient spatial detail at a global scale. With Map of Life are setting out to change that. By combining in data and models we aim to help everyone from ecotourists who can appreciate biodiversity wherever they travel, to resource managers who need to handle development in a sustainable way, and to governments who want to protect biodiversity,” Jetz says.

View article on Google Cloud Platform

Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment Mountain Portal: a powerful new online tool developed by Map of Life for exploring mountain biodiversity

The Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment (GMBA) teamed up with Map of Life (MOL) to launch a new web-portal for the visualization and exploration of biodiversity data for over 1000 mountain ranges defined worldwide.

Mountains are hotspots of biodiversity and areas of high endemism that support one third of terrestrial species and numerous ecosystem services. Mountain ecosystems are therefore of prime importance not only for biodiversity, but for human well-being in general. Because of their geodiversity, mountain ecosystems have served as refuge for organisms during past climatic changes and are predicted to fulfill this role also under forthcoming changes. Yet, mountains are responding to increasing land use pressure and changes in climatic conditions, and collecting, consolidating, and standardizing biodiversity data in mountain regions is therefore important for improving our current understanding of biodiversity patterns and predicting future trends.

In order to accurately predict potential changes in mountain biodiversity in response to drivers of global changes and develop sustainable management and conservation strategies, we must be able to define what exactly a mountain is, where mountains are in the world, and what species currently occur in those mountains.

More than 1000 mountain ranges around the world have now been described in a new study published in Alpine Botany by Christian Körner et al. (2016). Additionally, and for the first time, this global mountain inventory coverage has also been combined with expert range maps for approximately 60,000 species across different organismic groups and is being made available online through the Mountain Portal. The Mountain Portal is an interactive web platform provided by the Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment of Future Earth and developed by Map of Life. With just a few clicks users can explore and download growing lists of mountain ranges and expected species. Downloaded data can then be used for a multitude of projects ranging from mechanistic studies on the evolution and ecological drivers of mountain biodiversity to the development of indicators in sustainability research.

The mountain portal is an open source tool for all types of users, ranging from laymen and citizen scientists to researchers, practitioners, stakeholders and policy makers. It is an evolving resource that will utilize the power of the global community to improve mountain biodiversity and inventory information.

View article on Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment

Map of Life and The Field Museum win MacArthur Foundation grant

The Yale-led Map of Life project and The Field Museum in Chicago have won a $300,000 MacArthur Foundation grant to support conservation decisions in South America.

The two institutions will work with park services and wildlife agencies in Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia to improve conservation actions by harnessing better information about biodiversity. They will develop online dashboards to provide park managers with demand-driven, actionable biodiversity information such as lists of species expected in a particular location and estimates of their distribution trends. Park staff and visitors will use the service, which will be tailored to each park reserve area.

Map of Life is an online platform for species distributions, led by Walter Jetz, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and director of the Yale Center for Biodiversity and Global Change. “The new tools will provide biodiversity information specific to single parks and offer reserve managers basic analysis and reporting tools on data gaps and actual conservation gaps in their reserve system,” Jetz said.

Map of Life’s partner in the project, The Field Museum, has helped protect 23 million acres of wilderness in the tropical Andes through its Keller Science Action Center.

For more information, visit:

Map of Life

Keller Science Action Center

MacArthur Foundation

Jetz Lab

View article on Yale News

Map of Life named a 2016 Best App for Teaching & Learning

The American Association of School Librarians has named Map of Life, a Yale-led project with the University of Florida that assembles and integrates multiple sources of data about species distributions worldwide, as a 2016 Best App for Teaching & Learning.

The recognition honors apps of “exceptional value to inquiry-based teaching and learning” by fostering innovation, creativity, active participation, and collaboration. The award was announced June 25 at the American Library Association annual conference in Orlando, Florida.

Walter Jetz, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and director of the Yale Program in Spatial Biodiversity, is the guiding force behind Map of Life.

The Map of Life app puts a wealth of the world’s knowledge about biodiversity in the palm of a user’s hand. It can tell users which species are likely to be found in the vicinity, with photos and text to help identify and learn about species. The app also helps users create personal lists of observations and contribute those lists to scientific research and conservation efforts.

View journal article on Yale News

Range geometry and socio-economics dominate species-level biases in occurrence information

Despite the central role of species distributions in ecology and conservation, occurrence information remains geographically and taxonomically incomplete and biased. Efforts to address this problem, such as targeted data mobilization and advanced distribution modelling, all crucially rely on a solid understanding of the patterns and determinants of occurrence information. Numerous socio-economic and ecological drivers of uneven record collection and mobilization among species have been suggested, but the generality of their effects remains untested. Here, we provide the first global analysis of patterns and drivers of species-level variation in different metrics of occurrence information.

View journal article on Wiley Online Library

A Cloud Atlas Provides Clues to Life on Earth

After countless years of daydreamers being told otherwise, there’s now a good reason to keep your head in the clouds. Scientists combed through satellite photographs of cloud cover taken twice a day for 15 years from nearly every square kilometer of Earth to study the planet’s varied environments.

By creating cloud atlases, the researchers were able to better predict the location of plants and animals on land with unprecedented spatial resolution, allowing them to study certain species, including those that are often in remote places. The results were published last week in PLOS Biology.

Clouds directly affect local climates, causing differences in soil moisture and available sunlight that drive photosynthesis and ecosystem productivity.

The researchers demonstrated the potential for modeling species distribution by studying the Montane woodcreeper, a South American bird, and the King Protea, a South African shrub.

“In thinking about conserving biodiversity, one of the most important scientific questions is ‘Where are the species?’” said Adam Wilson, an ecologist now at the University at Buffalo, who led the study. The maps also could help monitor ecosystem changes.

For cloud-gazing, you can download the data: earthenv.org/cloud.html

View article on New York Times

Map of Life, the biodiversity in your hand

Map of Life builds on a global scientific effort to help you discover, identify and record species worldwide.

Map of Life is an application about biodiversity that gathers data from observations and references from numerous databases throughout the world, with information on different animal groups and plants. Some differences were detected between the mobile and the web app version, so they will be described separately.

The mobile app offers a lateral menu with different options:

What’s around me, option based on the geolocation of the user, delimiting an area (the radius is unknown) on which the information is extracted. Search the map by entering a place name or clicking on the map. Search for species by common or scientific name. My records, where you can upload your sightings after opening a free account. Settings, section where you can select the language or access to the help (only in English), for example. The information for each species includes a data sheet with a description taken from Wikipedia (in the selected language for the app), a map of geographical distribution and multiple images, in addition to the classification of the IUCN Red List.

The web app is more complete than the mobile version, since from the “Detailed Map” option you can filter information such as the range of years or the uncertainty, related in this case with geolocation errors (less accurate in old sightings and more detailed in actual observations made with modern devices).

View article on Green apps & web

Map of Life based indicators supporting GEO BON, CBD

Last week, an ad-hoc technical expert group of the CBD met in Geneve to advise CBD on a small set of indicators that could be used to assess progress towards the Aichi targets. GEO BON presented a new generation of indicators based on integrating information from a small set of essential biodiversity variables (http://www.geobon.org/Downloads/brochures/2015/GBCI_Version1.1_low.pdf).

The indicators, developed in collaboration with GEO BON partners Map of Life and CSIRO, were the Species Habitat Indices (Target 5 and 12), the Biodiversity Habitat Index (Target 5), the Species Protection Index Target 11), the Protected Area Representativeness and Connectedness Indices (Target 11), the Global Ecosytem Restoration Index (Target 15), and the Species Status Information Index (Target 19). They are based on global datasets for 4 EBVs: Species Distributions, Taxonomic Diversity (gamma diversity), Ecosystem Extent, and Primary Productivity. The indicators were very well received at the AHTEG, and were adopted as specific examples of indicators for these targets. They also illustrate the power of EBVs as a modelled layer between direct observations and indicators and its potential to generate global indicators and spatial explicit datasets.

View article on GEO BON

Research in the news: Spotting the knowledge gaps in biological species data

Wealthy, emerging countries that are home to some of the most threatened animals on Earth are also the very places where biological records about animals are most sparse.

A comprehensive survey of global species distribution data, conducted in conjunction with the Yale-based Map of Life team, found that few records are accessible for Brazil, China, India, and several other large, emerging economies.

The survey results appear in the journal Nature Communications. The scientists investigated millions of records about the distribution of all known species of mammals, birds, and amphibians. Most of the records came from natural history museums or regional field surveys that make such information available.

“In our study we show that in most parts of the world, and even in many well-off countries, way too little data has been collected or shared to guide conservation and sustainable resource use,” said co-author Walter Jetz, a Yale University associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and director of the Yale Program in Spatial Biodiversity Science & Conservation.

Jetz is the guiding force behind Map of Life, a project that assembles and integrates multiple sources of data about species distributions worldwide, including a mobile app. “More international data sharing is critical, and efforts such as Map of Life can help guide the efficient collection and use of new information,” Jetz said.

The new study sheds light on exactly where species information is most needed. “Until now it was thought that the largest data gaps were in tropical developing countries, that are rich in biodiversity but often lack the resources to study it,” said lead author Carsten Meyer of the University of Göttingen. “Our study adjusts and refines this impression and demonstrates the need to carefully assess and close these gaps.”

Additional co-authors of the study are Holger Kreft of the University of Göttingen and Rob Guralnick of the University of Florida-Gainesville.

For more information about the Map of Life, visit the website.

View article on Yale News

Toute la vie dans une app

Avec Map of Life, le big data et la géocalisation s’allient pour faire de vous un explorateur averti, voire un biologiste enrichissant la plateforme de ses observations

Vous êtes-vous jamais demandé quels étaient tel étrange oiseau croisé en voyage, telle fleur rencontrée en randonnée ou tel batracien baillant au bord de l’étang? Grâce au big data et à la géolocalisation, il suffit désormais d’un smartphone pour se muer en explorateur averti du grand jardin de la vie. L’initiative en revient à Map of Life, un effort de recherche international coordonné par l’Université de Yale.

Une fois l’app téléchargée, il suffit d’activer la fonction «What’s around me» pour connaître la composition de la flore et la faune alentour. Sur l’île de Miyajima au Japon (où cette chronique a été écrite), on trouve par exemple 229 oiseaux, 39 mammifères, 3 tortues, 19 amphibiens, 48 coléoptères et 19 conifères. A chaque espèce correspondent une fiche signalétique, des images et une carte des zones d’habitat.

Il y a plus: Map of Life est mise à jour en fonction des dernières observations par satellite, études académiques, bases de données et recensements. L’utilisateur lui-même peut identifier des espèces et/ou découvrir leur présence en sauvegardant et partageant ses observations sur la plateforme. «Les changements environnementaux, les disparitions d’espèces ou les invasions sont des irrégularités qui restent difficiles à détecter par satellite», explique dans un article le professeur Walter Jetz du Département d'écologie et l'évolution de Yale. «Vos marches en forêt, dans le désert ou dans les prés pourraient devenir des ressources inestimables pour la compréhension locale et globale de la biodiversité.»

Map of Life, pour iPhone et Android. Gratuit

View article on Le Temps

MOL app reviewed by Science Magazine

The field guide, rebooted. Map of Life joins a small but growing number of mobile applications seeking to reimagine the field guide by combining big data and mobile technology. Reviewer Gregory R. Goldsmith takes the app for a test drive, breaking down its pros, cons, and its potential for attracting a new generation of ecologists.

View article on Science Magazine

Map of Life: A phone app that helps track wildlife

Walter Jetz has been working on the Map of Life app for four years. He's an expert in biodiversity, teaching at both Yale University in the US and Imperial College in the UK. I caught up with him on a slightly overcast day on a picnic table in the leafy grounds of Silwood Park, Imperial College’s campus about 40km west of London, where he explained how the app works. Touching the light blue icon with a three-branched tree opens the Map of Life, clicking on "What's Around Me", brings up a list including amphibians, butterflies, bees and 180 birds. "We can move on to the songbirds, there are all sorts of tits and warblers around me that we can hear and then connect up with the app," Jetz told Al Jazeera. More than 20,000 people from Brazil to Indonesia to South Africa have downloaded the app since it launched two months ago. Jetz said five to 10,000 people log on daily. "The exciting thing about the app is it’s not just a field guide; it’s a flipped field guide. So instead of you having to sift through pages and pages of a field guide to identify that species you’ve just seen," Jetz said. "It’s already a tailored list of species where you are right now." The app is an international collaboration with scientists and computer programmers funded in part by NASA and the National Science Foundation in the US. Valuable information There are 35,000 species on the app across the globe but it’s not just meant to be fun in the park; science and biodiversity are the core. Users in remote parts of the world, particularly near the Equator, are encouraged to report back their sightings. Jetz said the citizen scientists are providing valuable information. He said app users in Java had spotted a turtle not seen for many years. "You’d be surprised for one or two of those (turtle) species we barely have any information at all," Jetz said. "We have a rough map but no points on the ground that would tell us in detail where the species would be found." The sightings are pinpointed by the phone's built-in GPS and added to the ever growing database. Jetz said the app comes at a critical time as many species are changing fast - some becoming dominant in a region, others moving to different areas. "Suddenly, we have information about potential threats, potential risks of extinction….which allows us to paint a detailed picture of where the species is and how its range may fair in the future," said Jetz, whose enthusiasm for wildlife was sparked by a childhood in Bavaria and is undimmed. The data can be passed on to policy makers who can then decide if another agriculture project in a region is a good idea or if it will harm nearby species and impact biodiversity. There are plans to add to the app’s six languages and within a few months there will be sounds the animals make to improve identification. The pictures and text are easy to understand; I used the app in New York’s Central Park last month when I spotted a bright orangey-red bird with a matching beak, sure enough the Map of Life identified it as a Northern Cardinal.

View article on Al Jazeera English

Life? There’s an app for that.

When the ornithologist and painter Roger Tory Peterson published the first modern field guide in 1934, he solved one of the biggest problems in species identification. No longer was it necessary to shoot or catch a creature and take it to an expert to find out its name; all you needed was the Field Guide to Birds (or one its many successors, which cover all sorts of living creatures)—along with sharp eyes, patience, and fast fingers to turn the pages.

Now, thanks to smartphones and “big data,” an effort is under way to create field guides that can tell you what’s around even before you lift the binoculars or the magnifying lens. A field guide of this sort was recently launched by Map of Life, an international research effort headquartered at Yale’s Program in Spatial Biodiversity Science and Conservation.

The Map of Life app shows what kinds of life surround you, no matter where you are in the world. When you request information on a particular group (mammals, birds, amphibians, trees, wildflowers, turtles, dragonflies, butterflies, or fish—a collection that is growing rapidly), the app delivers an inventory of all the species believed to be in your area. It also provides images, range maps, and authoritative natural history information, so you can satisfy your curiosity about the frog or butterfly you just glimpsed. The data are culled from scientific literature and public databases, along with satellite remote-sensing, so the app is constantly updated. The predictions of where and when species may occur are generated using the latest modeling techniques. The app also makes the study of natural history more interactive. Therein lies great scientific utility. The gaps and uncertainties in our data on spatial biodiversity can be huge, and they put constraints on scientific undertakings such as assessments of species status and trends, monitoring of species invasions, resource management, and ecological research. Changing environments and species losses and invasions are on the horizon, yet there is no satellite system or other system to monitor these perturbations and few means for biologists to assess and predict the consequences.

But detailed observations from individuals, especially in understudied regions, could advance our knowledge significantly. Armed with mobile technology, amateurs can become citizen scientists, sharing their observations and helping to fill in the gaps. Your hike into the woods, the desert, or the prairie could become an invaluable resource for our global and local understanding of biodiversity.

View article on Yale Alumni Magazine

New app creates a searchable network of species worldwide

Part interactive field guide, part map, a new app compiles millions of records on species ranges worldwide. By pinpointing your location, the Map of Life app lets you explore plants and critters you might see nearby. Or tap around the globe to see what might be blooming in Singapore, for example. Click on a species name to reveal its range map (one shown below), as well as crowdsourced pictures.

A team led by Walter Jetz of Yale University and Robert Guralnick of the Florida Museum of Natural History spent two years creating the Map of Life app, which is free for iPhones and Android. “The story of biodiversity is a visual one,” Guralnick says. Citizen scientists can help tell that story by reporting species sightings.

The Map of Life team plans to add a way to access records even without cellphone service. That could come in handy if you’re trying to figure out if that backcountry berry is edible.

View article on Science News

Whether it is a bird, a bug or a plant, now there is an app for that!

A NEW MOBILE APPLICATION can tell you what wildlife species, animal or plant, may be living nearby.

The app estimates your location and provides information and photos about species that could be living near your location. The app relies in the vast Map of Life (MOL) database, an international effort "that aims to advance and share the global knowledge about the distribution of biodiversity in space and time and to provide a resource for mapping and monitoring species worldwide," says Dr Walter Jetz, a senior scientist in the Grand Challenges in Ecosystems and Environment group at Imperial College London.

The MOL app currently hosts information for more than 30,000 species from around the world, including birds, mammals, amphibians, butterflies, trees, and much more.

"The app puts a significant proportion of our global knowledge about biodiversity in the palm of your hand, and allows you to discover and connect with biodiversity in a place, wherever you are," says Jetz.

The novel application, currently available for Android and Apple iOS, also comes with a recording feature, which allows users to make their own notes of new sightings or any other relevant observation, which can then be added to the MOL database and shared with the wider community.

Jetz hopes this new application will help users change the way we identify and learn about the wildlife we see when travelling, walking in the bush or even stepping out into our own backyard, he says.

The app was released last week and already users worldwide are flocking to use it, notes Jetz. "…thousands of users worldwide are already using it to discover and connect with biodiversity and share their observations with friends or the project. Map of Life research is underway to use this and other information, including remote sensing, to better map and monitor species," says Jetz.

In the future, the MOL app plans expand its database to include more species and to allow for stand-alone use, for when the celluar network is out of reach, says Jetz. "On the research front and including scientists from all over the world, the project is contributing to multiple global biodiversity status and trend assessments," he adds.

View article on ABC

Map of Life’s new app: The world’s biodiversity in the palm of your hand

Never has knowledge of the world’s biodiversity knowledge been more at your fingertips, thanks to a new smartphone app: the Map of Life. No matter where you are, the app can tell you what species of plants and animals are nearby.

Building on the Map of Life’s unrivaled, integrated global database of everything from bumblebees to trees, the app tells users in an instant which species are likely to be found in their vicinity. Photos and text help users identify and learn more about what they see. The app also helps users create personal lists of observations and contribute those to scientific research and conservation efforts.

“The app puts a significant proportion of our global knowledge about biodiversity in the palm of your hand, and allows you to discover and connect with biodiversity in a place, wherever you are,” said Walter Jetz, a Yale University associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and the guiding force behind Map of Life. “This vast information, personalized for where we are, can change the way we identify and learn about the things we see when traveling, hiking in the woods, or stepping in our own back yard.”

Instead of sifting through hundreds of pages in a printed field guide, naturalists get a digital guide that is already tailored to their location. With a novel modeling and mapping platform covering tens of thousands of species — everything from mammals and birds to plants, amphibians, reptiles, arthropod groups, and fish — Map of Life presents localized species information via maps, photographs, and detailed information. The National Science Foundation and NASA provided initial support for the Map of Life. Google and Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung also have supported the project.

Thanks to a recording feature, citizen scientists everywhere can log their bird encounters and dragonfly sightings directly into the app and add to the biodiversity data available to scientists around the world. “Think of a field guide that continues to improve the more we all use it and add to it. That is the beauty of this mobile application, and its great strength,” said Rob Guralnick, associate curator at the University of Florida and the project’s co-leader. “We hope that the Map of Life app, built from 100 years of knowledge about where species are found, will accelerate our ability to completely close the many gaps in our biodiversity knowledge.”

Indeed, making it easier and more globally streamlined for citizen scientists to contribute information is one of the key motivations behind creating the app. “The world is changing rapidly and species continue to disappear before we even knew where they existed, what role they had, and how we could conserve them,” said Jetz, who is director of the Yale Program in Spatial Biodiversity Science & Conservation and is involved in several global science initiatives for advancing biodiversity monitoring.

“Too much of our knowledge is limited to too few places and species,” Jetz said. “Helping people everywhere to identify and then record biodiversity carries the potential to hugely extend the geographic and taxonomic reach of measuring the pulse of life.”

The Map of Life app is available in six languages for iPhone and Android smartphones. For more information about the app, visit the website.

For more information about the Map of Life project, visit http://mol.org/.

View article on Yale News

New app puts the world's biodiversity in the palm of your hand

The free Map of Life app dispenses with bulky field guides by allowing users to access a vast global database of species and their ranges, based on their location.

Building on the Map of Life website, which provides a database of everything from bumblebees to trees, the app tells users in an instant which sets of species are likely to be found in their vicinity. Photos and text help users identify and learn more about what they see. The app also helps users create personal lists of observations and contribute those observations to scientific research and conservation efforts.

"The app puts a significant proportion of our global knowledge about biodiversity in the palm of your hand, and allows you to discover and connect with biodiversity in a place, wherever you are," said guiding force behind the Map of Life Professor Walter Jetz, a Senior Scientist in the Grand Challenges in Ecosystems and Environment group at Imperial College London and an associate professor at Yale University.

"This vast information, personalized for where we are, can change the way we identify and learn about the things we see when traveling, hiking in the woods, or stepping in our own back yard."

Instead of sifting through hundreds of pages in a printed field guide, naturalists get a digital guide that is already tailored to their location. With a novel modelling and mapping platform covering tens of thousands of species -- everything from mammals and birds to plants, amphibians, reptiles, arthropod groups, and fish -- Map of Life presents localised species information via maps, photographs, and detailed information.

Thanks to a recording feature, citizen scientists everywhere can log their bird encounters and dragonfly sightings directly into the app and add to the biodiversity data available to scientists around the world.

"Think of a field guide that continues to improve the more we all use it and add to it. That is the beauty of this mobile application, and its great strength," said Rob Guralnick, associate curator at the University of Florida and the project's co-leader. "Built from 100 years of knowledge about where species are found, we hope to accelerate our ability to completely close the many gaps in our biodiversity knowledge."

Indeed, making it easier and more globally streamlined for citizen scientists to contribute information is one of the key motivations behind creating the app. "The world is changing rapidly and species continue to disappear before we even knew where they occurred, what role they had, and how we could conserve them," said Professor Jetz, who is involved in several global science initiatives for advancing biodiversity monitoring.

"Too much of our knowledge is limited to too few places and species," said Professor Jetz. "Helping people everywhere to identify and then record biodiversity carries the potential to hugely extend the geographic and taxonomic reach of measuring the pulse of life."

The Map of Life app is available in six languages for iPhone and Android smartphones, and can be downloaded from https://mol.org/mobile.

The National Science Foundation and NASA provided initial support for Map of Life and Google and Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung also have supported the project.

View article on Science Daily

Data visualization: Science on the map

In 2011, de la Torre was part of a team researching biodiversity informatics. The group was seeking an online platform to make a map of all known species on the planet. “There wasn't technology for doing that,” he says — no tool could handle the amount of data, nor visualize how they changed over time.

The researchers decided to develop the tool themselves and created what became the open-source platform CartoDB. The company offers free and paid plans for hosting and visualizing data through its website. Unlike TileMill, which is primarily intended for drawing and designing static maps, CartoDB specializes in visualizing dynamic layers of data on top of basemaps. Users can import their geo-located data into CartoDB's web-based interface and then filter or cluster data points, change the colour or size of symbols, and animate data changes over time. “CartoDB wants to be a place where your data lives,” says Steve Bennett, a research-oriented technologist at the University of Melbourne who takes workshops on mapping, including the one that Gawne attended.

View article on Nature International weekly journal of science.

TOP 10 MAPPING APIS: GOOGLE MAPS, MICROSOFT BING MAPS AND MAPQUEST

These days map aficionados can find an unlimited number of beautifully designed interactive and static digital maps. There are maps that display open data, like Chris Whong's New York City Complaints Map, which displays the past seven days of the city's 311 complaints. There are maps that incorporate many source data sets, like the Map of Life, a set of maps that display species range information and species lists for any geographic area worldwide. There are maps that are both fun and useful, like the Zombie Apocalypse Survival Map, which shows the nearest locations for grocery stores, hospitals, warehouses, etc., along with zombie danger zones. There are real-time information maps, like Tetsudo Now, an animated map that uses Google Maps, OpenLayers and transit timetables to show Tokyo's subways and buses in transit.

View article on ProgrammableWeb

Map of Life unveils new Google Earth-powered tool to aid conservation efforts

Extinction sucks. And with that in mind, it’s incumbent on humans to make sure that other species besides ourselves can inhabit the planet and support thriving populations for generations to come.

Another resource has now made its way into the toolkit to help with the critical task of protecting biodiversity. Map of Life has pre-released a new service powered by the Google Earth engine that can better define and locate at-risk species specifically in nature reserves.

View article on The Next Web

谷歌地球新服务:“生命地图”关注濒危物种保护/ Google Earth's new service : 'life map' attention to the protection of endangered species

根据谷歌研究博客(Google Research Blog)上的介绍,这项新服务会借助生物多样性数据以及高分辨率的栖息地信息,对受威胁物种的栖息地进行定位,并对该物种的实际生存情况进行评估。博客上提到:“该服务以直观的交互形式,对保护区内物种的潜在数量进行评估。对于栖息地大幅减少,以及保护措施严重不足的物种,还会高亮显示。“

View article on Goukr

Map of Life listar var utrotningshotade djur finns

Map of Life är en ny tjänst där man använder sig av Google Earth Engine för att lista var någonstans i världen utrotningshotade djur har sitt habitat.

Det finns en rad med olika verktyg på tjänsten och man kan bland annat själv lägga till en djurart och markera var denna finns. Ett annat verktyg man kan experimentera med är en funktion där man utökar eller minskar det utrotningshotade djurets habitat på kartan och se hur detta påverkar artens utveckling i framtiden.

View article on Feber

Map of Life hará uso del motor de Google Earth para proteger mejor la biodiversidad

Google Earth es una herramienta fundamental de la Fiscalía de Pontevedra a la hora de perseguir los delitos urbanísticos, contra la ordenación del territorio y el medio ambiente. Un constructor de la provincia fue condenado a seis meses de cárcel por un delito de desobediencia grave a la autoridad y otros seis meses por un delito contra la ordenación del territorio por haber ampliado ilegalmente su fábrica sobre terreno rústico y forestal y romper los precintos que colocó la Policía Local.

View article on GENBETA

Map of Life: A preview of how to evaluate species conservation with Google Earth Engine

Nature reserves have a vital role for protecting biodiversity and its many functions. However, there is often insufficient information available to determine where to most effectively invest conservation efforts to prevent future extinctions, or which species may be left out of conservation actions entirely.

To help address these issues, Map of Life, in collaboration with Google Earth Engine, has now pre-released a new service to pinpoint at-risk species and where in the world that they occur. At the fingertips of regional naturalists, conservation groups, resource managers and global threat assessors, the tool has the potential to help identify and close key information gaps and highlight species of greatest concern.

View article on Google Research Blog

MapMonday: Biodiversity Map Shows Hemorrhaging of Species

"Metrics that international treaties set for the protection of biodiversity are solely focused on the quantity – and not the quality – of efforts to conserve habitats. Unfortunately, we are not doing a very good job in setting aside the critical areas many vulnerable species depend upon for their survival. Many protected areas are the leftovers, where extractive industries would have too much trouble casting their nets. It shouldn’t be surprising that species have not responded by migrating en masse, choosing instead to carry on in the places they like, even as those places disappear or become increasingly hostile."

View article on Scientific American

Can love and technology save global biodiversity?

A new inspirational way to engage people to become environmentally active has emerged. Instead of sending messages of loss and destruction, companies are trying to inspire the next generation with positive messages. Google's Earth engine also powers the Map of Life, a project based out of Yale University that aims to put all information about the world's biodiversity – from satellite imagery of forest canopies or snow cover to remote sensing data of animal populations to information from species databases – on an interactive map and at the fingertips of the ordinary public.

View article on Deutsche Welle, Environment

Mapping it so it doesn’t disappear

"To address this gap in the lack of indicators that assess how protected areas are protecting species, the EPI and the Map of Life (MOL) — a web tool combines large datasets on species and where they occur — are collaborating. Led by Yale University professor Walter Jetz and his team, the MOL utilizes 55 datasets and displays data for 25,000 species. It sets out to refine global understanding of where species actually occur (called a 'refined range') and where they align with terrestrial protected areas. The MOL paints a game-changing picture of how well—and how poorly—our terrestrial protected areas are set up to do their jobs.

As a first step to bring attention to the potential for these datasets to develop indicators that signal which countries may not be providing adequate protection for its species, the EPI and MOL have partnered to develop a first-ever interactive map launched in time for the World Parks Congress."

View article on Environmental Performance Index

Some birds come first — a new approach to species conservation

A Yale-led research team has developed a new approach to species conservation that prioritizes genetic and geographic rarity and applies it to all 9,993 known bird species.

“To date, conservation has emphasized the number of species, treating all species as equal,” said Walter Jetz, the Yale evolutionary biologist who is lead author of a paper published April 10 in Current Biology. “But not all species are equal in their genetic or geographic rarity. We provide a framework for how such species information could be used for prioritizing conservation.”

View article on Yale News

New Computer Model Uses DNA to Identify Earth’s Most Distinctive Birds

Of all the birds on Earth, perhaps none is more unique than the South American oilbird, which 90 million years ago hopped onto its own branch of the evolutionary tree and has been on it ever since. The oilbird perches atop a new analysis of avian distinctiveness: how old each species is, and whether they have close relatives. By this metric, the most distinct species are truly one-of-a-kind. “It’s millions of years of evolutionary information that’s distinct to the species,” said evolutionary biologist Walter Jetz of Yale University. The new analysis, led by Jetz and published April 10 in Current Biology, used a computer model that turned genetic data, the fossil record and previously-proposed taxonomic trees into a new evolutionary tree of birds.

View article on Wired

Giant ibis, little dodo, and the kakapo: meet the 100 weirdest and most endangered birds

The comic dodo, the stately great auk, the passenger pigeon blotting out the skies, the giant moas reigning over New Zealand: human kind has wiped out nearly 200 species of birds in the last five hundred years. Birds we'll never get back. Now, if we don't act soon we'll add many new ones to the list: birds such as the giant ibis, the plains-wanderer, and the crow honeyeater. And these are just a few of the avians that appear today on the long-awaited EDGE list of the world's 100 strangest and most endangered birds.

View article on Mongabay

Map of Life

Ever wonder where you can find Anolis gorgonae? Or what about Anolis proboscis? How about some 25,000 other species? Well, then you might want to go have a look at the Map of Life (www.mappinglife.org). Even just casually perusing this web database for some odd species searches can be really eye-opening.

View article on Anole Annals

GPS for Critters

This is not your grandmother’s blob map. The distribution data are nearly infinitely searchable and can be made almost instantly visible. A user can ask a basic question like “Where in the world is the yellow wattlebird?” and get an answer in unprecedented detail. One can map the whereabouts of dozens of species simultaneously, or pick a spot large or small, in Borneo, or British Columbia, or Chicago, and ask: “What are all the species that are found nearby?”

View article on One Earth

Scientists seek feedback on new global Map of Life

The scientists are hoping that this work will support the scientific community in understanding and saving the world’s biodiversity. They are predicting that the creation of online, integrated and accessible biodiversity data will rapidly increase the speed by which scientists and decision-makers can respond to changes in biodiversity that often result from habitat loss and other forms of environmental degradation.

View article on EarthSky

Интерактивная карта животного мира

Интересно ли вам узнать какие животные обитают в ваших краях? Или вы задумались над тем, где в природе встречаются те или иные виды? Теперь это очень просто узнать с помощью сайта "Карта жизни".

View article on Dirty.ru.

La ‘mappa della vita’ è online specie a portata di click

Volete scoprire quali specie di uccelli vivono nella vostra città, o dove sono gli ultimi esemplari di panda gigante, la specie in via d’estinzione simbolo del WWF? Da oggi bastano pochi click, grazie alla “Map of Life”, un nuovo progetto supportato da varie importanti istituzioni, fra cui la NASA e l’Encyclopedia of Life.

View article on La Repubblica.it

Where is the world's wildlife? Interactive map plots global species distributions

A collaborative project led by a team from Yale and University of Colorado Boulder has set out to create an interactive map of the global distribution of every species of animal in the world. New data is being added every day, but the demo version is already impressively well-populated. The map's creators have kindly allowed us to showcase it on our site, so you can see for yourself just how comprehensive a picture it provides.

View article on The Guardian

Find Out Where Any Species Lives with the “Map of Life”

The Map of Life is an innovative new mapping tool using Google Maps that can virtually depict the area of the world in which a certain species lives. This tool can come in handy for hunters seeking to learn more about exotic game and for those off-the-beaten track travelers who worry about poisonous species wherever they go.

View article on OutdoorHub.com

Map of life — каталог информации о биологических видах на Земле

В интернете появилась бета-версия сервиса Map of Life, который может оказаться полезным для учёных, занимающихся биологическими и экологическими исследованиями, и просто всем любопытствующим. Создатели сервиса — учёные Йелльского университета совместно с NASA — позиционируют Map of Life как «биологическую Википедию», однако отмечают, что информация на сайте будет пополняться только из академических источников и после многократной проверки.

View article on Habrahabr

Το απόλυτο εργαλείο για τη ζωή στον πλανήτη

Αναρωτηθήκατε ποτέ σε ποιες περιοχές του πλανήτη ζουν οι καφέ αρκούδες ή που θα βρείτε την καφέ νυχτερίδα Myotis lucifungus, η οποία κινδυνεύει με εξαφάνιση λόγω του «Συνδρόμου της Λευκής Μύτης», της φοβερής ασθένειας που αφανίζει τις νυχτερίδες;

View article on Newsbeast.gr

Pogledajte sav život na Zemlji

Google Maps odsad nudi opciju kojom možete locirati svako živo biće koje obitava na Zemlji, piše PopSci. Ambiciozni projekat nazvan Map of Life koristi Google Maps kao platformu pomoću koje označava prebivališta 30 hiljada vrsta širom sveta.

View article on b92.net

Startavo interaktyvus pasaulio „Gyvybės žemėlapis“ žemėlapis

„Map of Life“ („Gyvybės žemėlapis“) - naujas interaktyvus pasaulio biologinės įvairovės analizės šaltinis, žadantis naują erą rūšių pasiskirstymo vizualizacijoje. Šis žemėlapis iš pirmo žvilgsnio gali atrodyti tik dar viena biologinės įvairovės duomenų bazė internete, tačiau ji turi naujovišką interneto kartografavimo priemonę, kuri susideda iš įvairiausių duomenų: nuo muziejų kolekcijų iki ekspertų surinktos statistikos.

View article on Grynas

Térkép készült az állatok élőhelyeiről

A Map of Life projekt arra vállalkozott, hogy feltérképezi a Föld élővilágát és térképen teszi kereshetővé, melyik állat milyen területeken él. A Google Mapson alapuló térképre eddig harmincezer fajt vittek fel, és folyamatosan töltik fel újabbakkal.

View article on index.hu

Ο Χάρτης της Ζωής δείχνει πού ζει κάθε είδος του πλανήτη

Έχετε αναρωτηθεί ποτέ σε ποιες περιοχές του κόσμου ζει η καφέ αρκούδα; Ή ποια πουλιά ζουν σε ακτίνα 50 χιλιομέτρων από το σπίτι σας; Μπορείτε τώρα να δείτε τις απαντήσεις να εμφανίζονται στο Google Maps, χάρη σε φιλόδοξο ερευνητικό πρόγραμμα με την ονομασία Map of Life.

View article on news.in.gr.

Filling In the Blanks on a Map of Life

The applications for such a compilation are vast. Aside from being an educational tool, it helps expose holes in distribution data sets so that future biodiversity research can focus on more specific targets. It’s also a resource for making better decisions on land management and conservation and a potential means of studying disease transmission in wildlife populations.

View article on New York Times Green Blog

Map of Life Shows the Location of All Organisms, Large and Small

Ever wonder exactly where grizzly bears live on this continent? Or where you might find Myotis lucifungus, the fuzzy, adorable little brown bat that is currently threatened with extinction because of white-nose syndrome? Now you can track them on Google Maps, thanks to a new program that aims to plot the location of every single living thing on Earth. It's kind of like the Gawker Stalker, only with lemurs instead of Malcolm Gladwell.

View article on Popular Science

Find locations of 25,000 species on new interactive map

What's new about Map of Life is that it combines several sources of data that, at first glance, don't seem like they would fit well together. Range maps found in field guides, individual points from someone observing a species in a particular place, citizen science data, data gathered by national park rangers and data gathered from larger regions all show up on the Map of Life.

View article on Innovation on NBCNEWS.com

Online Map of Life

Map of Life, a new interactive website the draws on a diverse source of datasets to map species across the globe, went online yesterday (May 10), reported Nature. The visualization tool combines expert range maps, presence/absence checklists, point-occurrence records, and other digitized species data to form a searchable map. The current version focuses on fish and land-dwelling vertebrates, with plant and some invertebrates species slated to arrive later in the year.

View article on The Scientist

‘Map of Life’ tracks animals around the globe

“We are taking 200 years of different types of knowledge coming from different sources, all documenting the locations of species around the world and compiling them in a way that will greatly enhance our knowledge of biodiversity,” says University of Colorado-Boulder Associate Professor Robert Guralnick, of the ecology and evolutionary biology department.

View article on Futurity

New ‘Map of Life’ project aims to show distribution of all plants, animals on planet

“A small but powerful next step is to provide a means for anyone, anywhere on the globe to use their mobile devices to instantly pull up animal and plant distributions and even get a realistic assessment on the odds of encountering a particular species of wildlife,” said Guralnick, who also is the curator of invertebrate zoology at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History.

View article on University of Colorado Boulder News

Map of Life goes Live

Map of Life — an interactive resource for global biodiversity analysis — launches today, promising a new era in the visualization of species distributions.

View article on Nature News

Map of Life goes live

“Map of Life is more than a sum of its parts; what’s transformational is that these different data types cross-inform each other and help us piece together the most transparent, robust representations of species distribution yet achieved,” says co-creator Walter Jetz, a conservation biologist at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut."

View article on Nature