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Planet's biodiversity map updated after 136 years

United Kingdom,Science/Tech, Fri, 21 Dec 2012 IANS

London, Dec 21 (IANS) A biodiversity map drawn up by British naturalist Russel Wallace in 1876 depicting how life evolved on our continents has been updated after 136 years.

Technological advances and data on more than 20,000 species have allowed a team of 15 international researchers 20 years to map biodiversity in greater detail.

The map shows the division of nature into 11 large biogeographic realms and how they relate to each other, the journal Science reports.

Wallace was the the co-discoverer of the theory of natural selection, along with Charles Darwin.

Ben Holt from the Centre for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, who led the study said: "Our study is a long overdue update of one of the most fundamental maps in natural sciences."

"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," Holt added.

Study co-author Jean-Philippe Lessard, from McGill University, Canada, said: "The map provides important baseline information for future ecological and evolutionary research. It also has major conservation significance in light of the on-going biodiversity crisis and global environmental change."

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