Tel Aviv University researchers have completed the world’s first “atlas of life,” contributing a global review and map of every reptile on Earth.
The team, led by Prof. Shai Meiri of TAU’s Department of Zoology and Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, pinpointed new areas where conservation action is vital by linking it to existing maps for birds, mammals and amphibians. A study on the research was recently published in Nature Ecology and Evolution.
“Mapping the distributions of all reptiles was considered too difficult to tackle,” Prof. Meiri says. “But thanks to a team of experts on the lizards and snakes of some of the most poorly-known regions of the world, we managed to achieve our goals and contribute to the conservation of these often elusive vertebrates.”The reptile atlas covers more than 10,000 species of snakes, lizards and turtles/tortoises. The data completes the world map of 31,000 species of humanity’s closest relatives, including around 5,000 mammals, 10,000 birds and 6,000 frogs and salamanders. The new map has revealed unexpected trends and regions of biodiversity fragility for reptiles, including the Arabian Peninsula and the Levant; inland arid South Africa; the Asian steppes; the central Australian deserts; and the high southern Andes.