The new map made use of resources barely imaginable in Wallace's time. Genetic analysis helped to define species in the modern map along with the classical anatomical descriptions Wallace used. It took 15 researchers and 20 years of data compilation to update Wallace's original magnum opus of biological geography.
Developing a map of where species live may prove invaluable as a changing global climate, habitat loss and invasive species are rearranging animals' home ranges.
"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. Whereas conservation planners have been identifying priority areas based on the uniqueness of species found in a given place, we can now begin to define conservation priorities based on millions of years of evolutionary history," said Jean-Philippe Lessard, the other co-lead-author, of McGill University, Canada, in a press release.