Centuries-old 'life map' updated

Dec. 20, 2012 at 6:05 PM
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COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Danish scientists say they've completed an update of a world map that for centuries has been the backbone of our understanding of global biodiversity.

University of Copenhagen researchers say advances in modern technology and data on more than 20,000 species has allowed them to update the map first created in the 1870s by Alfred Russel Wallace, the co-discoverer along with Charles Darwin of the theory of evolution.

This new global map shows the division of nature into 11 large biogeographic realms and shows how these areas relate to each other, combining evolutionary and geographical information for all known mammals, birds and amphibians, the university reported Thursday.

International researchers contributed to the map based on the work at the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen.

"Our study is a long overdue update of one of the most fundamental maps in natural sciences," center researcher Ben Holt said. "For the first time since Wallace's attempt we are finally able to provide a broad description of the natural world based on incredibly detailed information for thousands of vertebrate species."

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