19 July 2005

WWF launches WildFinder, worlds most powerful tool to find where wildlife live

The worlds only searchable database for all four groups of land vertebrates launches today on WWFs web site, worldwildlife.org. Wildfinder is the only online, map-driven tool to cover the entire globe.

"For the first time the geographic ranges of 26,000 species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians can be found at a single site," said Eric Dinerstein, WWF's Vice-President for Science. "This kind of information is critical for studies in ecology, biogeography, conservation biology and natural history. Before Wildfinder, finding these data might require a time-consuming search of several different references. Now, they are available with just a few mouse clicks."

WildFinder allows the user to search for wildlife two ways - by location or by species. To search by location, just click on any of the world’s 825 ecological regions (dubbed "ecoregions") and get a complete list of the animals living there. You can also enter a zip code or a city name and Wildfinder will find the ecoregion containing it and its animal inhabitants.

You can also search by species, and Wildfinder will create a map showing the ecoregions containing that species. Links throughout the site allow you to download these lists and maps to your computer, find photos of each species, learn about their threat status, or read more about the ecoregions in which they occur.

"WWF created WildFinder because successful, science-based conservation depends on good information including data on where the world's species live," said Taylor Ricketts, director of WWF's, Conservation Science Program. "This information has never been compiled in one place before and we’re delighted we can make it available to everyone for free."

Wildfinder is the result of a 6-year effort by WWF scientists that brought together hundreds of experts. The site is designed to be useful for scientists as well as development officials and planners, students, and ecotourists looking for bird lists. Even literature majors could browse the site to locate the range of Blake's tiger, Poe's raven, and Ogden Nash's pelican.

WildFinder currently includes information for four large taxa, or groups of species: birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. The information on these species and their distributions comes from published sources, such as field guides and species accounts, and from unpublished sources such as compiled museum records and information held by experts. New data on these and other taxa will be added to WildFinder as they become available.

Source: WWF - South Africa


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