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Expert range maps of global mammal distributions harmonised to three taxonomic authorities

Friday, April 22, 2022

A figure from the Marsh et al. paper 'Expert range maps of global mammal distributions harmonised to three taxonomic authorities'. The figure shows two columns and three rows of world maps. The first row is labelled as the Handbook of Mammals of the World, the second row is labelled as Illustrated Checklist of Mammals of the World, and the third row is labelled as the Mammal Diversity Database v1.2. According to the figure legends, the first column depicts the number of species and the second column depicts the difference in the number of species between the different sources.
Figure from Marsh et al.

More than 18,000 georeferenced expert range maps for all mammals are now available for exploration and download on the Map of Life (MOL) website thanks to the monumental efforts of the MOL team and over 100 incredible collaborators. For the past several years, this team has been working on a global compilation of all extant mammal ranges harmonised across three taxonomic authorities: the Handbook of the Mammals of the World (HMW), the Illustrated Checklist of the Mammals of the World (CMW), and the Mammals Diversity Database (MDD). This comprehensive harmonisation pinpoints where taxonomic discrepancies occur among these three databases and the IUCN, allowing researchers and conservationists to make more informed decisions about the taxonomies to which they subscribe. A crucial focus in this project has also been the assurance of future transparent, easily traceable updates to range maps, so the MOL team is currently working on a digital interface to facilitate expert collaboration on range map refinement - stay tuned for updates on this tool!

The data paper detailing the results of this ambitious undertaking was recently published open access in the Journal of Biogeography, and all range maps can be downloaded at (HMW), (CMW) and (MDD). Maps for individual species can also be viewed and downloaded, along with other species-level spatial data, on MOL’s species pages.