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Infographic of the Day: An Atlas of the World’s Ecosystems

US Atlas

On April 22nd, the Nature Conservancy will release it’s first Atlas of Global Conservation–a book of maps summarizing everything we know about nature on earth. No one’s ever done that before. Three years of work went into producing it.

Just to create a single map of where the world’s 828 freshwater bird species are found, the Washington Post reports, scientist Timothy Boucher spent two months reading the scientific descriptions of every. Single. Bird. That’s 9,800 species. (Boucher’s qualifications? He’s personally seen 43% of the world’s known bird species.)

What’s more, Boucher’s contribution is just a tiny portion of the larger work. There are 100 maps in the Atlas, and it represents studies and data drawn from over 70 institutions around the world. In other words, the book represents the life’s work of literally thousands of scientists.

The maps vary, describing where the diversity is found in various categories of wildlife. And other maps describe exactly how much of that diversity is under threat. For example, up top you can see a map of amphibian diversity. And here’s the map of where they’re in trouble:

US Atlas

You’ll notice in the bottom left a legend, which manages to encapsulate four separate data points–the three reasons why various species are threatened, and the number of species affected:

Amphibian count

For slideshow of other maps, check out the Post; to explore the maps online, click here.

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