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Integrating biodiversity distribution knowledge: toward a global map of life

Walter Jetz, Jana M. McPherson, Robert P. Guralnick

Global knowledge about the spatial distribution of species is orders of magnitude coarser in resolution than other geographically-structured environmental datasets such as topography or land cover. Yet such knowledge is crucial in deciphering ecological and evolutionary processes and in managing global change. In this review, we propose a conceptual and cyber-infrastructure framework for refining species distributional knowledge that is novel in its ability to mobilize and integrate diverse types of data such that their collective strengths overcome individual weaknesses. The ultimate aim is a public, online, quality-vetted ‘Map of Life’ that for every species integrates and visualizes available distributional knowledge, while also facilitating user feedback and dynamic biodiversity analyses. First milestones toward such an infrastructure have now been implemented.


Trends in Ecology & Evolution, Vol. 27, No. 3. (March 2012), pp. 151-159, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2011.09.007 
Key: INRMM:9949642

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