OK, so what exactly do we have here? Well, a team of researchers has embarked on a potentially groundbreaking project known as the Map of Life — an online database designed to catalog and locate every known plant and animal species on Earth, and is led by Yale biology professor Walter Jetz. The team recently released a beta version of the tool, which already features location data on more than 25,000 species. With the browser-based app, users can search for a plant or animal by name, or right-click any region of the map to bring up a list of species within a given radius.
Its a simple idea, but this may indeed yield a rather profound impact.
We know about two million plant and animal species on Earth, but there is lots more that we still need to discover. There is also a heck of a lot we simply do not know about about some species, so by opening this up and crowd sourcing data by allowing hikers and nature enthusiasts to flag any animals they may encounter, a vast pool of data will take root and rapidly grow.
Right now its a beta, but Jetz is busily adding more information to the map, and hopes to catalogue tens of thousands more species in the final version. They also looking to develop a mobile version of their app, which would be able to track any animals within a user’s immediate vicinity.
Your can read more about it here, where they also note …
It’s supported by NASA, international research institutions and the Encyclopedia of Life project, itself a monumental undertaking that aims to catalog all there is to know about every species on the planet. …. A series of filters lets you search by species, whose known distributions appear as points on the map. You can display records from specific study areas, like nature reserves or large regions. You can even see what species are located in the vicinity of any location on the planet — set the search radius and group of interest (birds, mammals, etc.) and right-click on any point of the map. A list appears with every species found in your radius.
OK yes, the final obvious bit … you can play with it here.
Damn, that 600 year old Noah must has built a heck of a big boat to hold so much biodiversity … all within walking distance … amazing ;-)