In 1876, British biologist Alfred Russell Wallace published a map of the world that outlined how related animals were spread over the Earth. For example, Wallace was the first to publicize that North American biodiversity was substantially different from South America, and that an invisible line separated Southeast Asian biodiversity from that of Australia, New Guinea, and nearby islands. With Wallace’s research came the founding of biogeography, or the study of species in relation to geography. Today, scientists with the University of Copenhagen have updated Wallace’s map—nearly doubling the number of biogeographic realms—with support from data on over 21,000 species….
With vast amounts of data, including DNA sequencing, the scientists have created new biogeographic realms, such as the island of Madagascar which is home to lemurs, tenrecs, mini-chameleons, and slew of other bizarre species. Still, much of Wallace’s original map survives, such as the split between North and South America, and the line—known as Wallace’s Line—separating Southeast Asia and Australia. However, the new study also splits Australia from New Guinea, creating a new biogeographic realm known as Oceania which includes New Guinea and other islands across the Pacific….
The map utilizes known data from 6,110 amphibians, 10,074 birds and 4,853 terrestrial mammals.