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New app creates a searchable network of species worldwide

Biodiversity information at your fingertips

7:00am, June 29, 2015

A new app compiles millions of records of species worldwide and allows users to add sightings. 

Part interactive field guide, part map, a new app compiles millions of records on species ranges worldwide. By pinpointing your location, the Map of Life app lets you explore plants and critters you might see nearby. Or tap around the globe to see what might be blooming in Singapore, for example. Click on a species name to reveal its range map (one shown below), as well as crowdsourced pictures.

A team led by Walter Jetz of Yale University and Robert Guralnick of the Florida Museum of Natural History spent two years creating the Map of Life app, which is free for iPhones and Android. “The story of biodiversity is a visual one,” Guralnick says. Citizen scientists can help tell that story by reporting species sightings.

The Map of Life team plans to add a way to access records even without cellphone service. That could come in handy if you’re trying to figure out if that backcountry berry is edible.

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