June 28, 2013 3:14 pm
Conservationists constantly warn that the planet’s biodiversity is in crisis mode, but the world is a big place. In order to best protect species, it’s useful to know where they live. With that simple truth in mind, a group of researchers have produced maps depicting the whereabouts of all known birds, mammals and amphibians at resolutions about 100 times finer than anything available before.
SavingSpecies reports on some of the interesting trends the maps reveal:
For birds, the Andes are simply unparalleled for their concentrations of rare birds. Within the Americas, only southeastern Brazil and parts of Central America come close to showing such concentrations of rare birds.
Rare mammals are concentrated in much the same pattern.
For amphibians, the concentration of these super-rare species is even more extreme. The map below shows how a handful of small regions in the Andes have exceptional concentrations of rare amphibians. In these and nearby regions scientists are discovering many new amphibians, just at the time when their habitats are disappearing faster than ever before.
Tellingly, too little data exist on reptiles and fishes in order to include them in the map. Animals such as insects and crustaceans are likewise out of the question for mapping since so little information is available about their distribution.
Still, the team hopes their maps can help inform both local and global policies, protections and research agendas based upon knowing where those efforts would make the biggest impact.
Here’s another view of the maps, showing how species concentrations can contrast by region.
More from Smithsonian.com:
Sign up for our free email newsletter and receive the best stories from Smithsonian.com each week.